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Salla Manninen

My main themes of interest are women’s rights, human rights, violence and its understanding. Thus, my research revolves around agency and power in the context of gender-based violence and gender relations. In my research I will combine participant observation, interviews and social media analysis. During the autumn social media will be my main informant and, fingers crossed, I will be able to travel to Uganda in the spring to tackle the multiple dimensions of gender based violence in my research.

 

I will place emphasis on the various socio-economic backgrounds of women and men interlocutors, and with the help of the women’s life stories and narratives, I aim at bringing their voices to the front stage of my research.

 

My analytical framework will consist on works around agency and structure, biopower and power in general. The theories of agency and structure explore the connection between the world and the people living in it and their social practices. Here, I wish to highlight the importance of viewing agency contextualized and in its broadest sense, opening it up for various interpretations, making it possible to identify it even outside the hegemonic and traditional views on agency. Mahmood’s (2011) definition and understanding of agency brings new aspects to the debate of agency versus structure, and vitally so in the field of women’s agency. She explains how alternative practices of power are always possible: “Feminists have sought to understand how women resist the dominant male order by subverting the hegemonic meanings of cultural practices and redeploying them for their own interests and agendas” (Mahmood, 2011, p. 6). The theories of biopolitics and biopower have been predominantly used in the context of state control, whereas I wish to utilise them in the context of institutions such as gender and marriage, drawing inspiration from the work of Foucault and other scholars who have dived into Foucault’s work before me.