Thursday, May 2, 2013

Abstract for the 5th Christina Conference at the University of Helsinki

 [I'm preparing some necessities for the trip. About the activities here, I do something similar for my classes in philosophical anthropology.]

Taking on a Role: An Actor-Oriented Approach to Discussing Gender and Introducing Intersectionality

Gender studies is a fledgling course for Philippine universities. This paper argues for an actor-oriented approach to the study of gender. By “actor-oriented,” it is meant that many of the activities are inspired or taken from what actors do in order to prepare for a play. This approach is taken to bring the issues closer to the students. For instance, activities used to deepen listening expose the problematic assumptions and stereotypes regarding hypothetical situations. These hypothetical situations have to do with the interplay of gender, race and social status. One hypothetical situation is that of a woman bleeding who is refused entry to a hospital.  A further description is that the woman has a swollen abdomen. The students are asked to give reasons as to why the woman was refused entry. The added condition is that students repeat the reasons of the previous student. Apart from students defending the hospital, the repeated reasons usually feature embellishments like “she was poor”, “she’s of x-religion”, “she had an abortion.”  
Listening is just one of the many basic skills nurtured even further by actors (especially those informed by the practices of Konstantin Stanislavsky and Stella Adler) in order to be in the scene, from moment to moment. This also means that listening is also an attempt to see through our own judgments. The insights that may be gathered from doing the activities usually lead to discussions of intersectionality. It should be noticed that gender, race, religion and social status also forms some of the elements in building a character, and many of these dynamically intertwine and overlap.  This paper also argues that the actor’s approach is also a good way of introducing intersectionality, especially since this might be the first and last time our students will take up gender studies.

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