In short: yes we do.
Indeed, as academics we’re all super-busy, teaching and researching, meeting and writing. And of course, we do communicate about our research, in conference presentations and publications. We’re all part of academic associations, international peers are our key audience.
We mostly stay within our comfortable academic niches, talking to people who tend to share our ideas. We need to also connect with people outside of our disciplines, to expose ourselves to new ideas.
What’s more: we tend to mostly connect with international peers, presenting our work at conferences across the globe – but rarely do we talk to peers within the university, in other research traditions beyond our own biotope.
Particularly when working on issues of gender and sexuality, at the University of Antwerp we still tend to work in isolation. Gender and sexuality are studied by individuals or small clusters of people, working within their faculty, departments and research groups. We hardly know what happens on another floor, let alone in another UAntwerp building.
So yes, we do believe A*, the Antwerp Gender and Sexuality Studies Network, will serve a purpose, if only to connect UAntwerp researchers. Our initial aim is to make people aware of each-other’s work; gradually, we hope to also elaborate new initiatives.
All of this, in a context where gender and sexuality have become legitimate topics of research, but are also the object of wide social debate and protest. #MeToo, same-sex marriage, increasing trans* visibility: all of these are simultaneously applauded, opposed and rejected. Not the least in academic research.
So let’s connect, exchange experiences and keep these debates going – alert to voices who may want to silence us. And yes, we do need another network for that!
Alexander Dhoest & Petra Meier