Research Network Gender and Political Science

Both politics as an actual phenomenon with tangible consequences and Political Science as an academic discipline are gendered. In the landscape of Swiss academia, however, scholars focusing on either remain a minority and are rarely visible. The core aim of this working group is to establish a network between scholars who work at the intersection of gender and the broadly defined field of political science, including its major subfields of international relations, domestic (Swiss) politics, political theory, research methods, and public policy.
Together we want to foster academic exchange and peer support in order to increase the visibility of Feminist Political Science and to accelerate its progress and recognition. We plan to do this through different formats. We intend to meet regularly to discuss our research, the first culmination of which shall be a two-day workshop (probably in autumn 2022) where each participant will present a paper and enjoy feedback from an assigned in-group peer-reviewer. Over time, we would also like to submit panel proposals to conferences such as the annual conference of the Swiss Political Science Association or the European Conference of Politics and Gender.
The working group is co-coordinated by Dr. Leandra Bias (swisspeace/University of Basel) and Dr. Elizabeth Mesok (University of Basel). Below you find a non-exhaustive list of scholarship we would be particularly interested in:

  • Critical studies that rethink the boundaries, analytical categories, conventional research methods and onto-epistemological premises of Political Science
  • Approaches that show how sexuality and gender identity are the subject of domestic “culture wars” and international diplomatic contention
  • Scholarship on gender equality norms, the advocacy for, manipulation of and repression against them, from the global to the local level
  • Research on feminist social movements and contestation politics, from historical, comparative and contemporary perspectives
  • Exploration of discriminatory mechanisms in political participation as well as how policies reify inequalities
  • Investigations into the role of gender in the management of populations through public policy and administration
  • Critical approaches to security, militarism and war and peace from a feminist perspective
  • Non-Western and post-colonial research that decentres existing theorising about politics and showcases alternative forms of knowledge and political practice
  • Research following an intersectional and interdisciplinary vocation

To become a member, please write a 200-words abstract of your research and tell us about three objectives you would like to achieve with your membership. This will help us steer the scope and format of the group. We welcome submissions from PhD candidates to tenured professors and accept them on a rolling basis. Please email Leandra or Elizabeth – or both together. Please note, that membership is free of charge, but you will have to become a member of the Swiss Association for Gender Studies if you are not already. We look forward to hearing from you!

Members of the research network Gender & Political Science

Carolina Fontes dos Santos is a PhD candidate in International Relations/ Political Science at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva (IHEID) and Affiliate at the Gender Centre. Her research focuses on feminist movements in rural areas in Brazil and their participation in international food governance through their engagement in transnational social movements. Her aim is to highlight the importance of grassroot communities and their mobilization in transnational organizing arrangements to negotiate political voice as well as public policies in current global governance and in international organizations. Carolina is a researcher-activist interested in gender issues, feminist international political economy, social movements, transnational participation, food sovereignty, and food systems.

Leandra Bias co-founded the network together with Dr. Elizabeth Mesok. Leandra is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Political Science, University of Bern and affiliated with ZOiS, the Centre on East European and international studies. Her work focuses on authoritarianism, anti-gender politics, foreign policy and feminist resistance. Regionally, she specialises on Russia and Serbia. At the heart of her research lies the question how gender relates to processes of (de-)democratisation and political violence and how feminist actors and policies respond to it.
In her current project Leandra looks at the rise and use of the narrative of defending "traditional values" in a “culture war” against the West to justify Russian aggression. In addition to her own project, she is Co-Principal Investigator in the Horizon Europe project UNTWIST: policy recommendations to regain “losers of feminism” as mainstream voters. Leandra defended her DPhil on (anti-)feminism in Russia and Serbia in November 2020 at the Department of Politics and International Relations of Oxford University for which she received an honorable mention by the Swiss Association for Gender Studies.
Leandra believes in the importance of science communication and outreach. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion, she has given countless media interviews, appeared in TV debates and participated on public panels. For this engagement, she got the Young Scholar 2022 Award by the Walter Benjamin Kolleg. She also regularly consults practitioners with her expertise. Most recently, the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Twitter; LinkedIn

Dr Isabel Käser is a SNSF Ambizione Fellow at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, where she is working on her new project “Leaving the Party”, which looks at former rebels and processes of disengagement, demilitarisation, and migration. From 2021-2023, she was a researcher and visiting fellow at the LSE Middle East Centre where she led the project The Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-ISIS: Youth, Art and Gender. Isabel gained her PhD at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS, University of London, and is the author of the award-winning book The Kurdish Women’s Freedom Movement: Gender, Body Politics and Militant Femininities (Cambridge University Press, 2021). Other publications include Art and Activism in Iraqi Kurdistan: Feminist Fault Lines, Body Politics and the Struggle for Space (LSE Middle East Centre Paper Series, 2023), and Beyond Feminism? Jineolojî and the Kurdish Women’s Freedom Movement (Politics & Gender, 2022). Her areas of expertise are gender, war, (de)militarisation, feminist mobilisations, art and activism - with a focus on the Middle East, particularly Kurdistan and its diasporas. Drawing on transnational and post-colonial feminist theory, Isabel’s work is situated at the intersections of feminist international relations and critical military studies.

Lucile Quéré is a postdoc at HES-SO. She holds a PhD in social sciences from the University of Lausanne. She has a special interest in feminist mobilizations, reproductive politics and intersectionality. Her PhD research analyzed the centrality of the body in the revival of feminist mobilizations and the exclusions it performs. It was carried out as a doctoral researcher and teaching assistant at the Centre for Gender Studies, University of Lausanne, and as a Swiss National Research Foundation fellow and visiting scholar at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has recently coedited the special issue “Feminist Emotions” in the European Journal of Women’s Studies.

Patrizia Zanella is an SNSF PostDoc.Mobility fellow working on Indigenous language revitalization and translingual literatures. Her latest project investigates “The Political, Ethical, and Metalingual Uses of Translingual Poetics.” She holds a PhD in English and is currently an Associate Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Indigenous Studies at the University of Manitoba, where she takes Ojibwe and Cree language courses. She is also affiliated with the Centre for Research in Young People’s Texts and Cultures at The University of Winnipeg. Her research examines how contemporary Indigenous literatures from North America challenge the spatio-temporal, legal, racial, gendered, and linguistic boundaries of settler-colonial border regimes. She is interested in place-based ways of knowing, kinship, Indigenous feminisms, Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer literatures, Indigenous legal epistemologies, and Indigenous language reclamation. Her work has been published in Studies of American Indian Literatures and Gender Issues. Patrizia is invested in translingual futures that foreground linguistic justice and in interdisciplinary, intersectional work that does not shy away from its political implications.

More profiles to follow ...


Past events

Kick-off Event “Feminist Political Science as a Bulwark against Anti-Feminist Politics”

Prof. Elisabeth Prügl, Professor, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Dr. Stefanie Boulila, Lecture, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Dr. Leandra Bias, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Bern
Dr. Elizabeth Mesok, SNF PRIMA fellow, University of Basel

Date & Time:
Friday, 18 November 2022, 6–7.30pm University of Basel

A brief report about the kick-off event can be found in the SAGS bulletin 2022/3