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World Women's Philosophers Forum Kicks off in Beijing
Source:Chinese Women's Research Network | Release Date:2018-9-18-
Title: World Women's Philosophers Forum Kicks off in Beijing
Author: Xie Wen
Release Date: 2018/9/14
Keyword: World Women's Philosophers Forum, Beijing

The 17th World Women's Philosophers Forum took place in Beijing from August 10-12 on the theme of "Women and Philosophy in the Age of Globalization: Past, Present and Future."

The event gathered nearly 100 researchers from more than 20 countries and regions at Tsinghua University to discuss four topics: women and the history of philosophy; knowledge, science and value; Marxist philosophy and women's development; and, the future of women and philosophy.

Xiao Guiqing, deputy dean of the School of Marxism at Tsinghua University, said in the opening speech that China's social development and human destiny is inseparable from philosophical thinking. New knowledge, ideas and questions posed by women scholars from all over the world will greatly contribute to the subject.

Annemi Halsa of VU University Amsterdam introduced a lecture on interaction and cooperation between women philosophers since the establishment of the World Association of Women Philosophers in 1976.

In addition, participants put forward new thinking by combining and interpreting the ideas of female philosophers, and also discussed issues arising in some cultural phenomena, such as female physical aesthetics and female writing.

Tuya Pukkinen, a professor at the University of Helsinki in Finland, explained the connection between the contemporary renown feminist philosopher Judith Butler and the thoughts of political theorist Hannah Arendt. She believes that Butler has been seeking for inspiration in Arendt and has shortened the distance from Arendt through dialogues with some of the feminist ideologists.

British scholar Anna Ezeki believes that the excessive attention to the love story, suicide and female identity of German philosopher Karoline von Gunderrode has caused her philosophical achievements to be mostly ignored by German philosophical researchers. Her writing about "selfhood" provided a unique solution to such issues of "alienation" and "truth", issues which philosophers such as Nietzsche and Heidegger were concerned about.

Liu Yan, a professor at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, explained the relationship between the Western mythical figure Antigone and the thinking of contemporary French feminist theorist Luce Irigaray. Liu believed that Antigone is an important character among the mythical figures discussed by Irigaray; and, inspected the process of Antigone being placed in Western philosophy and history through a review of the specific context of the discussion of Antigone in Irigaray's work.

Eva Kate Mann, a professor of Hong Kong Baptist University, studied the female body as manifested in the ancient Chinese classic The Book of Songs, or better known as Shijing. She explored the ideal femininity presented in the book and the ethics of the time; the gendered concept of inner beauty and external beauty; and, the relationship between love and marriage, sexual instinct and sociality.

Through textual analysis of the Book, she observed that in classical Chinese, female beauty refers to the femininity and sexual attraction of a woman, which is constructed on the basis of male desire and male imaginations, and gradually deviates from the basis of physiology and sexuality and thus equipped with cultural and normative constrains.

At the forum, experts all expressed consent that the reflection on knowledge, science and value is an important manifestation of the vitality of feminism philosophy, which requires continuous discussion in the above-mentioned fields while the globalization process continues to advance.

Professor Karin Green of the University of Melbourne in Australia has a unique interpretation of the modern discourse with respect to the equality of natural rights. She argued that the demand for women's rights precedes the need for equal human rights. This demand is not at the national level, but rather at the household level. She also claimed this topic as a priority issue and believes that the modern concept of equality of human rights was closely related to the emergence of modern harmonious marriage.

Professor Wang Rongrong from the Loyola Marymount University in the U.S. examined Taoist thought centered on femininity and explained the influence of Taoism on the development of feminist theory in the context of globalization. She sees female temperament as a cosmic force and stated that at the moment, the theories of female temperament with Taoist can be taken as a feminist intervention, which reconstructs "gender" by way of employing Chinese traditional Taoist ideas.

Xiao Wei, a professor from Tsinghua University, paid particular attention to the definition of "psychiatric disease" and the controversial issues surrounding psychiatric diseases. She said that in the fields of psychiatry, medicine, philosophy, and spiritual philosophy, mental illness has always been a vague concept, which not only affects people's perception of mental illness and the introduction and implementation of relevant policies and laws, but also has direct influences on clinical diagnosis and treatment.

According to Xiao, for the time being, it is necessary to combine the theory of Thomas Szasz to discuss and reflect on the concept of "mental illness", especially from the perspective of a feminist.

People need freedom, and free from mental illness is the bottom line of freedom, and constructing the philosophy of psychiatry is the very way as well as the guarantee for this bottom line.

Meanwhile, participants generally agreed that Marxism provides a unique analytical perspective for women to fight for equal rights, and Marxist feminist theory is also an important school of feminist theory, thus in the face of new problems that arise in the current development of women, people can seek inspiration from Marxist philosophy.

A professor from University of La Laguna in Spain examined the issue of surrogacy from the perspective of capitalism and global markets. In addition to the risks of commodification, she held that it is also necessary to be alert to the emergence of a feminine proletarian group that may result from the rise of a new global market.

Susanna Leto, a professor at the Free University of Berlin in Germany, held the view that new materialism has also posed a severe challenge to feminist theory. She then went on to discuss a range of issues, including vitality, ontology, and post-humanism. From the perspective of critical feminist theory, she pointed out that the distinction between new and old materialism did not hold.

Professor Wang Hongwei of South China Normal University looked into the relationship between fertility labor and social production, the relationship between social production and other types of household work. He proposed that reflecting on the social construction of mother and motherhood can enhance the cognition and maintenance of women's labor value and reveal the particularity of women's labor alienation, as well as reduce women's alienation.

Participants also presented philosophical issues of today's world from a female perspective and looked forward to the future direction for female development and philosophical development.

Du Jie, deputy director of the Women's Studies Institute of China, introduced the process by which China gives full play to the role of female subjectivity in the country. She said that China has profound female and philosophical cultural resources, and opinions and assertions on women's development all but reveal the rich connotations of Chinese women as well as that of philosophy.

At present, Chinese gender research has transcended the stage of merely criticizing gender bias and gender discrimination in society, and is committed to promoting a gender-friendly development, according to Du.

A doctoral candidate from Uganda shared the situation of women participating in philosophy in Uganda. She said that people in her country generally held a misunderstanding of feminism, taking all types of feminism as radical feminism. However, endless prejudice does not help to achieve better communication between men and women, nor does it allow them to participate in the process of globalization on equal footing.

Dr. Shi Min from Beijing University of Technology probes into the way modern Chinese "personality" discourse shapes the identity of modern women. She systematically sorts out the personality characteristics and historical practice of women in different historical stages, and brings the formation of women's modern personality into the historical context of the transformation of China's gender system, in an attempt to explore its close relationship with the sexual transitions of China's social gender system.

According to the report, the three-day conference presented the research results of women and feminists from various branches of philosophy in the era of globalization. Female philosophers from different parts of the world not only felt the charm of Chinese philosophical culture and were impressed by female philosophers, but also witnessed the achievements of China's reform and opening-up.

They unanimously expressed hopes of further exchanging ideas with Chinese female philosophical researchers in the future and working together to build a harmonious, equal and happy human society.

(Source: Translated and edited by Women of China)
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