Universiteit Leiden

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Society for Women in Philosophy: Philosophy and Practice & Annual General Meeting

  • Azille Coetzee
  • Marleen Moors
  • Ann Meskens
Saturday 14 May 2016
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


All are welcome. Please register by sending an email to:  swip.nlsecretaris@gmail.com

Three philosophers will give their perspective on philosophy and practice. The presentations will culminate in a thesis, which will be discussed in a public discussion. The symposium will be followed by the AGM 2016 and closed with drinks.


13:30- 14:00      doors open and welcome

14:00- 14:20      lecture Azille Coetzee

14:20- 14:40       lecture  Marleen Moors

14:40- 15:00       lecture  Ann Meskens

15:00- 15:40       discussion

15:40- 16:00       break

16:00- 17:00       AGM

17:00- 18:00       drinks

* During the AGM all members have the chance to speak out and stand as candidates for the board.

About the speakers

Azille Coetzee is a PhD student in Philosophy at the Vrije University of Amsterdam and Stellenbosch University in South Africa. In her dissertation she is working on a feminist philosophical exploration of the work of Nigerian feminist scholars Nkiru Nzegwu and Oyeronke Oyewumi and placing them in dialogue with certain proponents and ideas of European feminist philosophy.

Marleen Moors studied philosophy and religious studies  at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada (BA) and graduated on the late work of Martin Heidegger at the department of philosophy at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands (MPhil). Her areas of expertise are existentialism, existential phenomenology and metaphysics. After her graduation Marleen worked as a junior researcher at  the department of medical humanities (specialization medical ethics) at University Medical Center Utrecht (2011-2012), where she worked on the ethically sound inclusion of palliative care patients in scientific research. Besides running her philosophical practice, Marleen also teaches philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy  in Amsterdam and was board member of the Dutch Society for Philosophy and Medicine (VFP) from 2011-2013. In 2015 she published her article ‘ Sexism and gender issues in academic philosophy’ in the collection ‘Women in Philosophical Counselling’.

Ann Meskens studied Philosophy and Applied Ethics at Leuven Catholic University and Nice University. She works as a journalist and broadcaster, gives lectures and writes for several magazines and newspapers such as De Morgen, De Brakke Hond, Filosofie Magazine and Le Soir. She published amongst others the books  ‘Jacques Tati’, ‘Eindelijk buiten’ and  ‘The making of’.


Azille Coetzee,  ‘Oyeronke Oyewumi, the invention of women and the limits of philosophy

Today works of African feminist philosophy are still difficult to come by, even if there is a lively feminist discourse on the continent in other disciplines like literature, sociology, anthropology and psychology. In this paper I read the work of Nigerian feminist sociologist Oyeronke Oyewumi as being part of an alternative wisdom tradition in which African feminist scholars enunciate themselves in individualized and particularized ways, thereby offering epistemological resistance to their silencing by the universalizing discourse of philosophy which has its historical roots in western masculine reason. Oyewumi famously argues in her book The Invention of Women: Making an African sense of Western Gender discourses (1997) that the very notion of sex/gender is a western cultural construct which is universalized and wrongfully applied to all cultures. She argues that when African cultures are read through the lens of this universal, the categories of man and woman are created in them. Through detailed and particularized research into the concrete details of the lived realities of the Yoruba people, Oyewumi therefore makes a deeply philosophical claim that reaches to the core of the tradition of western and feminist philosophy. Oyewumi shows how this is a philosophical claim that is impossible to make within the bounds of the western philosophical tradition in so far as this tradition creates the realities it only ostensibly describes. In this paper I therefore discuss Oyewumi’s work as being a powerful testimony to the idea that there are strong alternative African feminist wisdom traditions beyond the bounds of institutionalized philosophy and that philosophy (African, western and feminist) has a lot to gain from taking note of them.

Marleen Moors, ‘The value of philosophy as dialogue’

Research shows that many women drop out during PhD trajectories  and have little aspirations to push on to more senior positions within academic philosophy.  This is often attributed to the glass ceiling, the tension between work and motherhood, an "old boys network" and the  competitive work environment. Nevertheless, the problem seems to have a deeper cause: academic philosophy-in particular disciplines such as logic and metaphysics- is punctuated by a masculine ontology that might have an alienating effect on both men and women in the long run. Unconscious prejudices about non-instrumental rationality, situated thinking and philosophizing about emotions and everyday situations can influence images  of feminist metaphysics, women's studies, philosophizing about emotions and the psychological aspects of being human.  They are then considered "no real philosophy". The preference for abstract and  objective thinking explains the hyper-masculine aspects of academic philosophy, in which the philosophical value of interpersonal dialogue, spoken word and philosophical conversation - a locus where philosophy  takes place as event - is underestimated.  A plea for the value of philosophy as dialogue.



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