5. Critical, feminist and caring pedagogies

Critical, feminist and caring pedagogies in times of crisis

Convenors: Kirsti Lempinen, Anu Valtonen & Tiina Seppälä, University of Lapland

Contact: kirsti.lempiainen (at) ulapland.fi

Seminar room: Aspire (Parallel sessions 1, 2 & 3)

Format: Hybrid

This working group discusses critical, feminist and caring pedagogies in higher education and working life aiming to foster more liveable, just and egalitarian futures for humans and more-than-humans. Given the on-going profound ecological and socio-political crises as well as persistent problems concerning inequality and discrimination based on gender, sex, sexuality, ethnicity, race, culture, religion, class, age, ability ect., it is widely accepted that a radical change in (western) worldviews and ways of living is urgently needed. As a result, fruitful theorizations are underway (Alaimo & Hekman, 2008; Haraway, 2016; Grusin, 2017; Pullen & Rhodes, 2014; Valtonen, Rantala & Farah, 2020). Likewise, the development of alternative ways of ‘knowing’ and substantially broader definitions of what ‘knowledge’ is in this changing environment has been argued to be necessary (Höckert et al., 2020; Khanam & Seppälä, 2020; Meriläinen, Salmela & Valtonen, 2022).

We hence welcome papers representing various disciplines discussing, developing and implementing critical, feminist and caring pedagogies that enable us to nurture collective and collaborative forms of knowledge creation with the aim of fostering the development of more just and egalitarian conditions for both humans and more-than-humans. Examples include, but are not limited to, feminist embodied pedagogies, critical intimacy and care, deep listening, dialogue, and arts-based pedagogies designed to amplify and centralize hitherto marginalized, ignored and silenced voices (Ahmed, 2000; Lempiäinen & Naskali, 2011; Saarinen & al., 2014; Seppälä, 2016; Seppälä et al. 2021). The workshop considers higher-education as a crucially important context for developing and practicing such pedagogies, recognizing also various organizations - e.g. businesses, NGOs and public organizations – as vital sites for practicing critical pedagogies.


Muneeb Ul Lateef Banday & Andy Silveira

Maree Martinussen

Shona Hunter

Felicity Daly

Anna-Liisa Kaasila-Pakanen & Emmanouela Mandalaki

Kris Clarke & Christopher B. Sullivan

Kieran Sheehan

Katarina Parfa Koskinen


1. Unencumbered Care: Queer-Feminist Resistances, Contestations and Solidarity within Higher Education in Neoliberal Times

Muneeb Ul Lateef Banday, Goa Institute of Management, muneeb.lateef@gmail.com

Andy Silveira, Goa Institute of Management, andy@gim.ac.in

This paper is a reflexive account of our ongoing journey in navigating and fostering a feminist-queer and caring culture within management education in India. In this journey, we explore the resistances to alter the prevailing toxic masculine (Elliot, 2018; Hooks, 1984) and neoliberal culture (Varman, Saha & Skålén, 2011) amidst ‘institutional’ constraints. We discuss issues relating to the mobilization of differences through the various institutional initiatives and practices that we started or became a part of, including developing a course on ‘queering’ management (Rumens, 2017), working with students to set up a queer ally group, working with students to counter toxic exploitative organizational (sub)cultures and incorporating feminist/queer lens in the ‘mainstream’ management courses. Our becoming in and through these practices (Butler, 1997) is enmeshed in strategic voicing and silences, doing and hesitating, clarity and confusion, and sympathizing and distancing. Through our paper, we show the interrelationship between feminist-queer praxis and pedagogy (Lempiäinen, & Naskali, 2011; Mayo & Rodriguez, 2019) involving ‘working with and through tensions’ (DePalma, 2020) and the subjectification effects of contesting neoliberal rationality within ‘neoliberalized academia’ (Davies & Petersen, 2005).

2. Rethinking social class disadvantage through affective dissonance, responsivity and capacity: A study of gender and class in higher education

Maree Martinussen, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, maree.martinussen@unimelb.edu.au

In this paper, I explore how social class can be thought of as a structing relation and a series of events, but also as a kind of affective capacity. The data used is drawn from biographical interviews, generated with diverse postgraduate students studying in Australian universities who identify as working class—in normative terms, these are 'disadvantaged’ students. In this paper, I attempt to go beyond an analysis of the reproduction of inequalities, which tends to command attention in customary critical class analysis. Instead, I aim for a more reparative reading of female working-class student subjectivity. Class struggle is enacted via events of an affective-discursive-material kind that constrain and capacitate. Participants’ marginalised status in higher education is done affirmatively, through care of self and others. Focusing on the concepts of affective dissonance, responsivity and capacity, I advocate for a conception of the ‘differently advantaged’ student.

3. Discomforting caring pedagogies in the White institutional space

Shona Hunter, Centre for Race Education and Decoloniality (CRED), Leeds Beckett University, s.d.hunter@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

In this paper I consider the place of discomfort in the practice of enacting critical feminist and caring pedagogies in higher education contexts where the subject and practice of the learning is decolonisation. I reflect on what sort of care is being enacted in the explicit discomforting of the higher education space which is already constituted through the asymmetric dynamics of our contemporary global coloniality and therefore framed through neoliberal whiteness. This means that it is already a discomforted for those racialised as other to whiteness. What does it mean to raise and stay with ‘the trouble’ (Haraway, 2016) of whiteness under such circumstances? And what does it mean for an educator who is racialised as white to raise the questioning of whiteness in a space of learning with students who from a multiplicity of lived relations to racism many of whom are already discomforted through their relation to whiteness? How do we share in discomfort in ways which do not work at the ‘expense’ of those already discomforted in the White institutional space? What needs to happen for the classroom to be a space where discomfort works as an ‘epistemic resource’ (Chadwick, 2021) through which ‘we [can] learn to live and deal with discords [of coloniality] without this being synonymous with violence’ (Marboeuf and Yakoub, 2019)? I use the idea of ‘relational choreography’ (Hunter, 2015; 2021) to explore the complicated ways in which discomfort can be dynamically redistributed between students and educator as a way to materialise the White institutional space differently.

4. Applying universal care in feminist methods: a case study of empirical research with asylum seekers in Ireland

Felicity Daly, University College Cork, Institute of Social Sciences in the 21st century,


Conceptualising and operationalising empirical research that applies perspectives from care ethics can contribute to enacting critical, feminist and caring pedagogies. An ethics of care approach supports the creation of participative processes to enable discourse about care and requires paying attention to including a wide and diverse range of voices and participants in care relations which disrupts the binary of care receiver and care giver. This paper reviews processes, including methodological choices, for empirical research that seeks to uncover care dynamics experienced by asylum seekers in the international protection system in Ireland during the first waves of COVID-19 and beyond. Applied examples draw from CareVisions, an interdisciplinary research project reflecting on care experiences during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic in order to re-imagine future care relations, practices and policies in Ireland and internationally. The paper explores the enactment of a standpoint informed by the feminist ethics of care to centre the lived experience of asylum seekers. It describes empirical research conducted in community gardens in urban and rural settings, sites of re-creation of care networks where asylum seekers come together with community members to contribute to care for people and planet. It will detail a participatory approach to fieldwork including, participant observation through contributing to gardening, one to one and group discussions which engage diverse groups and voices speaking to the lived experiences of care in the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. This setting enables researchers and participants to illustrate the concept of ‘universal care’ which implies that ‘we are all jointly responsible for hands-on care work, as well as engaging with and caring about the flourishing of other people and the planet’ (Chatzidakis et al., 2020: 96). This collective and collaborative form of knowledge creation can support evidence based social justice advocacy which may allow for the extension of feminist and caring pedagogies beyond the university into communities.

5. Engaged pedagogies in neoliberal business schools

Anna-Liisa Kaasila-Pakanen, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu


Emmanouela Mandalaki, NEOMA Business School


Feminist organization theories develop alternative value systems that emphasize how organizations might bear responsibility for social justice, equality, solidarity and care for others. Yet, in the context of capitalist business organizing, which elite business schools reproduce, these are often judged merely as exotic rather than as real alternative ways forward (Benschop, 2021, p. 2). The conventional approaches to academic teaching focus on rational, disembodied, and linear production and consumption of knowledge (Mandalaki, van Amsterdam and Daou, 2021). Like hooks (1994), Mandalaki, van Amsterdam and Daou (2021, p. 1) suggest that these practices uphold the mind-body split, leaving out the affective body and disconnecting it from the course content and materials, resembling what hooks (p. 13) calls ‘an assembly-line approach’ to learning and teaching. This assembly-line standardizes knowledge to be mass-delivered to student-customers and alongside devalues both students and teachers (Kostera and Strauß, 2022, p.1).

As early career feminist organization scholars working and teaching in neoliberal business schools, in this paper we aim to reflect how our way of theorizing and writing through relating, caring and connecting intersects with our teaching practices. Recognizing the prevailing disciplinary expectations and conventions in our field, which also the students are expected to and seem to adopt quickly and they see their teachers to follow, we critically ponder the possibilities to rethink business school teaching practices through engaged pedagogy (hooks, 1994). Our approach outlines the role of respect, responsibility, and vulnerability in the classroom, a will and desire to share and respond, even if full mutual recognition between a student and teacher would not be possible at a particular point of time (hooks, 1994, p. 13). These principles speak against a distanced student-teacher relationship composed by the assembly-line, placing rather the focus on creating and fostering relations that reinforce care not only for others but for teachers themselves, and all of this in relation with each other.

6. From Affective Violence to Queer Love: The Emergence of HIV/AIDS Care Systems in Fresno, California: What It Teaches Social Work Students

Kris Clarke, University of Helsinki


Christopher B. Sullivan, California State University, Fresno


Historical studies have become increasingly significant in social work to better understand the prevailing epistemologies that guide current policies and practices (Lorenz, 2012). Studies of how social work has contributed to contemporary systems of oppression are key to structural social work pedagogy (e.g. Wright & Akkin, 2021). This study examines how care systems emerged in the urban-rural locale of Fresno in the late 1980s and early 1990s to cope with the emotional trauma that local gay men faced from societal stigma, family estrangement and affective violence during the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Fresno is a city in the center of California and has a strongly socially conservative local culture. Following Diedrich (2007), this paper explores how lesbians in Fresno offered ‘queer love’ to their gay brothers as health advocates by creating an agency to support people living with HIV at the advent of the AIDS epidemic (Diedrich, 2007). It traces how the Fresno lesbian and gay community shifted from providing support for queer identities through counseling and support groups to advocating for care and providing end-of-life care for gay men living with AIDS. Analyzing 20 semi-structured qualitative interviews, this study uses a narrative approach to analyze the emergence of HIV services in Fresno. The study finds that local queer networks creatively responded to the crisis, providing support to people living with AIDS despite the prevailing culture of affective violence. The actions taken by queer activists had lasting effects on the development of queer affirmative services and attitudes in the Fresno community.

After World War II, San Francisco and New York emerged as centers of gay culture in the US as returning servicemen and women settled in these accepting metropoles rather than returning to provincial hometowns (Berube, 2010). Queer culture flourished in large American cities through a burgeoning nightlife, an emerging literary and arts scene, and multifarious political mobilizations to challenge homophobic laws and policies (Bergman, Castle & Gross, 2004). Along with street-based social movements of the 1960s, gay liberation was centered in the affirmation of the self (Malchow, 2011). While gay liberation is often embedded in narratives of gay migration to urban enclaves, queer sexualities have also thrived in less urbanized areas of the US. Outside of urban centers, discretion, the interwovenness of local and personal identities, and a complex navigation of local social institutions and cultures are often more significant to queer identities rooted in place (Kazyak, 2011).

After GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) was first identified in a medical journal in 1981 (CDC, 1981), American gay men experienced a tidal wave of stigma, discrimination, and homophobia that rolled back some of the progress made towards gay liberation. As the AIDS epidemic intensified in the 1980s, American gay men were subject to affective violence by being shamed for their sexuality and stigmatized as vectors of disease transmission (Vincent, Peterson & Parrott, 2016). The lack of treatment options and limited understanding of the virus meant that people who were infected generally faced a rapid advance to death. Many gay men living with HIV struggled with family rejection and the lack of palliative care and treatment. Research has shown that sexual minorities experience a higher prevalence of bullying, self-harming behaviors, addiction, family rejection, harassment, and hate crimes that consequently place them at higher risk of poor mental and physical health outcomes (Plöderl & Tremblay, 2015). While cities like San Francisco and New York quickly organized community services like the Shanti Project and Gay Men’s Health Crisis, less urbanized areas had fewer resources and often faced more deeply entrenched homophobia in local institutions and cultures. The Fresno case study offers insight into how local activists created care systems which has significance to social work pedagogies of care and social change.

7. Intuitive Movement as a Situated Pedagogy for transdisciplinary research into Identities

Kieran Sheehan, Independent scholar


This 30-minute paper and film presentation will draw on my recent doctoral thesis which used dance to develop information about Professional Identities. Within my research I engaged in one-on-one dance sessions with a priest, psychiatrist, policeman, social worker and academic, using my performance of improvised movement to elicit information about their workplaces. The diffractive analysis process I developed within my doctorate is called Wondering and I propose this as a critical, feminist and caring pedagogy. Wondering fuses dance with Posthuman theory through video and written texts using feminist new materialist concepts to notice what matters in the agential cuts being made. The resultant dismantling of binaries between researcher and researched/method and findings; leads to an argument for the use of improvised dance as a form of Posthuman pedagogy that generates relational ways of knowing identities in the workplace. An example of Wondering will be offered using the idea of examining (homo) sexuality as a vector, and care-fully, opening up (diffracting) an idea of intra-sectionality through the Baradian concept of Apparatus. Thinking beyond the thesis and toward the conference, I will reference this example in considering the ethics of using embodied practices within feminist new materialist research, and how this contributes to teaching and learning in times of crisis. I will trace how my realisations around researcher identities, uncovered co-constituted ways of knowing between the assemblage of participant/environment/land/policy, resulting in a plurality of ways of knowing, being and doing professional identities. In summary the presentation will propose the use of intuitive movement (dance) and Wondering as an intra-disciplinary process that allows people to trace their entanglement in the phenomena they are being curious about. This will be positioned as a particularly useful feminist pedagogy of care when utilised in relation to identities within the workplace.

8. Rethinking relationality in pedagogical practices and research, an as-well-as theoretical approach

Katarina Parfa Koskinen, Department of Education, Umeå University


In this paper, the outlines of a framework inspired by Indigenous worldviews is presented. Consisting of a relationally intertwined onto-epistemology held together by relational accountability it suggests that it is as relational beings that we give meaning to our experience of the world, account for the actions we take and develop a sense of who we are. More specifically when we experience resonant relationships to different parts of the world capable of "speaking to us". This has become increasingly difficult in a world characterized by accelerating commodification. The paper thus suggests a complementary take on learning, where a widened understanding of relationality is centre staged. Philosophical understandings from Indigenous worldviews where humans and other entities are considered equals, entangled in relational accountability are underpinning the paper. Relationality is further unpacked through resonance theory, a sociology of our relationship to the world by Hartmut Rosa. Implications for online education is provided as examples of how the framework can be put into work. By widening our understanding of relationality as a key onto-epistemological feature, and as such of greater importance for pedagogues than seen in most learning theories, it is hypothesized that we can design educational practices supporting transformational learning beyond human-human relations. With the potentials of a dialogue with post-humanist, new-materialist and feminist approaches the framework is aimed at providing a bridge between dominant learning theories and other fruitful theorizations on the way. This is relevant in relation to the on-going ecological and socio-political crises as well as problems with discrimination. The framework is also an answer to an aligning initiative taken by UNESCO: Futures of Education, a new social contract, inviting people to shape the future by rethinking education in a complex, precarious and increasingly uncertain world.