DR. FATEN KHAZAEI
The winner of the 2021 Brigitte-Schnegg Prize is Dr. Faten Khazaei. She is the author of the thesis "Manufacturing Difference: Double Standard in Swiss Institutional Responses to Intimate Partner Violence" (2019).
Faten Khazaei is currently a postdoctoral researcher in sociology at Goldsmiths University of London. Her work is situated at the intersection of gender studies, critical race studies, but also sociology of migration, institutions and violence. She analyzes the ways in which state institutions and actors, in treating social problems participate, create, normalize and/or naturalize categories pertaining to nationality, migration, gender, class, “race” and ethnicity in their discourse and practices. Her empirical approach encompasses qualitative research methods, including public and institutional ethnography as well as expert interviews. Her current research studies how the child-protection mission reproduce/enforce social, gendered and ethno-racial order in the name of the best interests of children.
Short summary of the thesis:
Her PhD thesis analyzes how institutional approaches to intimate partner violence (IPV) are gendered and racialized in the Swiss immigration context. Through a detailed ethnographic study of a police station, a shelter, and a hospital unit in a French-speaking Swiss canton, the thesis shows how professionals psychologize and individualize white, Swiss victims and perpetrators and ignore the gendered power dynamics underlying IPV. In contrast, when the victims are constructed as non-Western “immigrants”, gender analysis returns through the idea that non-Western familial relations are shaped by highly unequal, culturally embedded gender practices. Doing so, the structural dimension of IPV and a feminist reading of it is introduced in a very distorted way by postulating a violent migrant culture as opposed to a seemingly no-violent Swiss society. This double standard through a visibilization of gendered power relations in specific cases, and their silencing in others, leads to perceptions of ethno-racialized differences that are subsequently equated with moral differences between “us” and “them”. Her doctoral work further illuminates how these gendered racialized dynamics that are uncovered through the ethnographic investigation ultimately fail all victims of IPV in that the structural contexts of violence are ignored either through psychological individualization or through homogenizing racialization.
DR. LEANDRA BIAS
This year's honorary mention goes to Dr. Leandra Bias for her thesis "The (Im)Possibility of Feminist Critique in Authoritarianism: Revisiting Western Knowledge-Transfer in Russia & Serbia" (2020).
Dr. Leandra Bias was born and raised in Zurich. After her undergraduate degree at the University of Geneva, she pursued her postgraduate studies at Oxford in the UK thanks to a variety of generous funding. During her DPhil in Politics she spent visiting fellowships at the Geneva Graduate Institute, the University of Vienna as well as in Russia and Serbia where she did extensive fieldwork. Throughout her studies in political science she always focused on feminist topics and has also been active within feminist civil society. Bias works as gender advisor & senior researcher for Swisspeace and lecturer at the University of Basel.
Short summary of the thesis:
In her thesis, she revisits the established critique that transnational feminism boils down to an exercise of Othering, manifested in a unidirectional transfer of knowledge from the West to post-communist Europe. Based on the examples of Russia and Serbia, she argues that this form of critique dangerously resonates with authoritarian regimes’ discourses which claim that feminism and "gender ideology" are an alien Western ruse. From Russian and Serbian feminists’ vantage point such resonance is deeply risky and must be avoided. That is why they reject this critique and instead advance alternative imaginaries of transnational feminism that go beyond the frames of East-West and teacher-pupil.