Angelika Sjöstedt Landén

Angelika Sjöstedt Landén

Interviews “FEMACT is led by an ethos of feminism-across-borders”

The academic community is international, and this solidarity crosses borders. Angelika Sjöstedt-Landén is one of the founders of the network FEMACT, that aim to fight the limiting space for academic freedom. We asked her to explain more about the initiative.

Published in the printed edition of Baltic Worlds BW 2018:4 Vol XI, pages 50-51
Published on balticworlds.com on mars 6, 2019

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The academic community is international, and this solidarity crosses borders. Angelika Sjöstedt-Landén is one of the founders of the network FEMACT, that aim to fight the limiting space for academic freedom. We asked her to explain more about the initiative.

What is FEMACT?

“FEMACT is a network of gender studies scholars, activists, and critical researchers that works as a platform for sharing and creating new knowledge about how illiberal and anti-gender mobilizations operate in different countries. We also try to work out ways to resist threats against academic freedom. We currently have around 50 members across Europe and in neighboring countries.”

Could you say more about the call for international cooperation to make it possible for scholars who have been hampered by restrictions to still be able to conduct research? Access to electronic library resources and scholarships for junior researchers and visiting research positions for more senior ones might be part of this structure?

“The network gathers scholars from countries in which a shift towards illiberal democracy has been fairly successful such as Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Turkey, as well as countries in which this trend is less visible but is nevertheless present. There is much diversity within Europe regarding the ways in which different countries have experienced austerity, unemployment, growth in precarious employment, and cuts in benefits, all of which have disproportionately affected women in countries such as Greece, Spain, and Ireland. FEMACT is led by an ethos of feminism-across-borders and a politics of solidarity. The combination of members makes it possible to share resources across the group. By resources I mean not only monetary ones, and could, for example, be the possession of a passport. Meetings can take place in locations where scholars are based who cannot travel because of the confiscation of their passports — which is the case for much of the Turkish members of the network — or we might need to find online solutions for participating. This is very important for overcoming isolation, which is very common for gender scholars who often are the only ones defined as gender scholars in their department, in their region, or even in their country. This is one of the core things about working together, that someone recognizes what is happening in the different locations and that we can act collectively for one another. We have also seen while building the network that it is very important that membership not be reduced to formal affiliation with an institution such as a university, especially when scholars are locked out of their departments.”

What can a scholarly international journal do to contribute to this structure?

“Journals could definitely make their archives open and free to access so that students and scholars can access their catalogues irrespective of departmental affiliation. A closer cooperation between networks such as FEMACT and journals could enable the initiation of more contacts as well as wider knowledge about the conditions scholars are under in different national and institutional contexts. Such understanding could make possibilities for publishing greater. Also, journals could consider publishing in more languages or alternatively offering funds for translation to a greater extent. Requirements for writing in English can be very excluding, and cooperation with journals in different countries that publish in a variety of languages could also be a way forward. It is also very important that current issues of academic freedom are addressed, such as in this current issue of Baltic Worlds.” ≈