Sara Ahmed: On Complaint
What does it mean, and what does it cost, to make a complaint? This question is at the heart of Sara Ahmed’s research into institutional power, and it forms the basis of this energetic, wide-ranging lecture.
In 2016 the acclaimed British-Australian academic resigned from her prestigious post as Professor of Race and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her resignation was in protest against the university’s failure to address the problem of sexual harassment.
Ahmed – whose work embraces feminist, queer and race studies – has since embarked on a new research project, outside institutional academia, that was sparked by the bruising experience of trying to improve the university’s complaints process. Her new study, drawing on oral and written testimony from dozens of complainants, has much to teach us about the structures and mechanisms of institutional power. It’s a timely topic during this moment of reinvigorated feminism and reports of systemic harassment on Australian university campuses.
Sara Ahmed is an independent feminist scholar, writer and activist. She has held academic appointments at Lancaster University and Goldsmiths, University of London. Her work is concerned with how power is experienced and challenged in everyday life and institutional cultures. She has recently completed a book What’s the Use? On the Uses of Use and has begun a new research project on complaint.