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Sara Ahmed – Closing the door: complaint as diversity work

This talk draws on interviews conducted with staff and students who have made complaints within universities that relate to unfair, unjust or unequal working conditions and to abuses of power such as sexual and racial harassment. It approaches complaint as a form of diversity work: the ordinary and often painstaking labour of trying to transform institutions so they are more accommodating. Making a complaint requires becoming an institutional mechanic: you have to work out how to get a complaint through a system. It is because of the difficulty of getting through that complaints often end up being about the system. Sara Ahmed explores the significance of how complaints happen “behind closed doors,” and shows how doors are often closed even when they appear to be opened.

20:00 Introduction by Sophie Withaeckx (VUB, RHEA)
20:10 Lecture by Sara Ahmed
21:15 Q&A moderated by Iman Lechkar (VUB, Fatima Mernissi Chair)

Sara Ahmed is an independent feminist scholar and writer. Her work is concerned with how power is experienced and challenged in everyday life and institutional cultures. She has recently completed the book What’s the Use? On the Uses of Use, which is forthcoming with Duke University Press in October 2019.  Her previous publications include Living a Feminist Life (2017), Willful Subjects (2014), On Being Included (2012), The Promise of Happiness (2010), Queer Phenomenology(2006), The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2014, 2004), Strange Encounters (2000) and Differences that Matter (1998).

an initiative by VUB, Furia & Kaaitheater