Strand 6

Feminist epistemologies and methodologies

Coordinators: Katarina Lončarević, University of Belgrade and AtGender; Elia A.G. Arfini, University of Milan and CRAAAZI; Noemi Novello, University of Milano-Bicocca; Sabine Grenz, University of Vienna; Mia Liinason, Lund University; Gianluca Argentin, University of Milano-Bicocca.

→ abstracts to be sent to:, 

This strand approach feminist knowledge production through an intersectional lens and invites presentations that address feminist knowledge production in academic research as well as in activism. 

Feminist conceptualizations of  the relationship between gender and knowing have contributed to epistemological and methodological advances in many disciplines, including sociology, literature, history, anthropology, law, and philosophy. Drawing attention to the gendered dimensions of knowledge production allowed feminist theorizing to develop debates about standpoint epistemology, situated knowledges and about the intersectional relation between gender and other social positions, such as race, class, sexuality, ability status. Feminist research practices rest on the premise of creating knowledge useful for promoting social change: this basic tenet invites inquiries on how methods, methodology and epistemology are intertwined with each other and that knowledge production is not neutral with respect to the social impact of research beyond the academia. In fact, to constitute their feminist perspective, research practices depend on epistemically normative claims for their justification, as well as on methodological sensitivity about the social location of the researcher.

Reflections on knowing, evidence, authority and credibility are particularly relevant in times of political contention. Within an increasingly complex society that sees inequalities thriving under the current unsustainable socio-economic system and multiple global crises, the myth of a neutral form of scientific knowledge that could lead to societal change is fading away. While increasingly large amounts of data are produced in the online world, there are scarce guarantees about the possibility that these data are collected and/or used to favor equality- or justice based projects or the interests of minoritized groups of people.While current developments expose the fragility of our knowledge societies, recent examples of the impact of activist contributions, such as the role of activists’ expertise in AIDS/HIV biomedical research, to the use of visual testimony in the Black Lives Matter movement, points towards a transformative potential of claiming knowledge. 

Against the idea of a universal form of knowledge, the concept of situated knowledges by Donna Haraway reminds us how feminist epistemologies can become tools to value pluralism of visions and to promote alternative processes of knowledge construction, in order to pursue goals of increasing social justice rather than re-enforcing mechanisms of oppression.

While conducting research, especially when producing or using large scale datasets, such as in longitudinal research and online methods, we need to keep these aspects in mind.

Quantitative feminist methodologies have been fundamental in researching structural inequalities, such as economic injustice and inequalities in the labour market. Large-scale quantitative research is crucial to promote a feminist agenda among the lay public and policy makers on pressing issues, such as GBV. Nowadays, in the context of Big Data research and computational methods, feminist perspective can develop innovative empowering data science practices.

Qualitative feminist methodologies – including ethnography, discourse analysis, comparative case study, oral history, participant observation, narrative research –  developed complex accounts of self-reflexivity and raised challenging questions about the power differentials between researchers and the subjects of the research, the relationship between activism and institutional knowledge production, and the conditions for participatory research.

Furthermore, mixed-methods research, incorporates perspectives coming from different knowledge traditions, including feminist epistemologies and methodologies, as suggested, for example, by the transformative paradigm.

On these premises, the strand welcomes contributions from all disciplinary perspectives that focus on theoretical, epistemological and methodological reflections on the constitution, continuities and differences of feminist perspectives for social change.

     Possible topics include, but are not restricted to:

  • How feminist theories and epistemologies informs research methods from which minoritized groups can benefit (serving the idea of social justice). 

  • How we can use data (especially coming from longitudinal and online research) from a feminist perspective. 

  • Gender studies and research in the academy and in activism; Feminist research ethics. 

  • Feminist Standpoint Theory; Intersectionality; Naturalized feminist epistemology. 

  • Digital humanities, Data feminism, Online methods. 

  • Feminist social epistemology; Epistemic injustice and epistemologies of ignorance 

  • Longitudinal research

  • Feminist measures in quantitative research, Gender diversity in survey research

  • Methodologies and epistemologies of the oppressed; Southern epistemologies and global cognitive justice.