Siran Hovhannisyan: Studying Gender in Armenia: Research, Politics, and the Wake of Anti-Genderism
1. June 14:00 - 16:00
Anti-gender campaigns in Armenia have tried to destroy the hopes around the progress in gender equality starting from fall 2012 when a diversity march was organized in Yerevan and the actual promoters of ‘diversity’ have been beaten up, injured and detained during the march. Apparently, diversity for the people gathered in the huge crowd was referring to the national characteristics of Armenians. Diversity did not refer to “other” sexual or gender preferences. It meant being different, but in a traditionally heteronormative Armenian way. This event had put immense pressure on everyone: activists, feminists, researchers, anyone who wanted to relate themselves to gender studies and/or feminism. The scholars and researchers in the academic field of gender studies were also exposed to pressure and accusations. This and other related events impacted on all of us, but they made a deep trace on the opportunities of studying gender at its core and on widening the meaning and understanding of the term within research. Indeed, gradually the already scarce resources for studying gender in academia shrunk even more. The academics began accusing their colleagues for studying gender as something anti-national and perverse. Based on my analysis of the situation with ‘gender’ in Armenia, I will show that anti-gender movements have had their negative impact not only on the activist experiences but also, specifically, to limiting of the chances for studies beyond the scarce and traditional understanding of gender. These attacks have also led to limiting the spaces for discussing it openly without fear of being publicly prosecuted.
Siran Hovhannisyan is a Research and Education Program Coordinator at the Center for Gender and Leadership Studies of Yerevan State University in Armenia. She is also an active member in Women’s Fund Armenia. Her research intersects multi-level expressions of anti-genderism, feminist movements and sexual education in Armenia and other post-socialist countries in comparative perspective. Another important aspect of her work is doing trainings on gender sensitive research and projects implementation as well as gender-responsive budgeting. She also teaches ‘Public Policy Research and Policy Brief Writing’ course at the Center for European Studies of Yerevan State University.