Transgressing Borders: Feminist activist-scholars pursuing critical knowledge
Feminist activist scholarship lacks recognition from hierarchical academia, which privileges intellectual work to the detriment of active political engagement. Several authors come to the conclusion that academics should appreciate the value of disagreement, as well as the use of different theory and methodology as instruments to create new knowledge and understandings. How can we create a more engaged and responsible role for scholars working with people, communities and movements, and engage with them in a way that they might benefit from the study? This presentation is taking stock of previous critical writings on knowledge production and political activism where I intend to bring to the fore the racialized and gendered lived experiences of Romani and other racialized women in the academia, in order to highlight mechanisms of oppressive hierarchization and argue for an epistemic change. Moreover, this lecture explores the academic potential of feminist activist scholarship, particularly, how Romani women activist-scholars challenged the mono-focal and one-dimensional identity politics in Roma Civil Rights Movement.
Angéla Kóczé, Assistant Professor of Romani Studies and Academic Director of the Roma Graduate Preparation Program at Central European University, Budapest. She was the principal investigator of a research project (2013-16) on Institutionalization of Romani Politics After 1989 in Hungary, funded by the Hungarian Social Research Fund. Her research focuses on the intersections among gender, ethnicity and class as well as the social and legal inequalities facing the Roma in various European counties. She has published several peer-reviewed academic articles and book chapters with various international presses including Palgrave Macmillan, Ashgate, and Central European University Press, as well as several thematic policy papers related to social inclusion, gender equality, social justice and civil society. She is currently preparing a monograph on the political representation and social struggles of Romani women in Europe as well as an edited volume that takes stock of the contemporary situation and identity struggle of Europe’s Romani minority. In 2013, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington D.C., honored Kóczé with the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award for her interdisciplinary research approach, which combines community engagement and policy making with in-depth participatory research on the situation of the Roma. Outside of her academic career, she has worked as a Senior Policy Adviser in the Hungarian Government (2004-2008), was a director of the human rights education program at the European Roma Rights Center (1998-2003), and was the founding director of the Romaversitas program in Budapest (1996-1997), which offers scholarships and mentorship to underprivileged students.