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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Heath

FORUM HIGHLIGHTS: IV ISA Virtual Forum of Sociology Forum

The following is the RC32 President’s Report of the IV ISA Virtual Forum of Sociology

Challenges of the 21st Century: Democracy, Environment, Inequalities, Intersectionality

February 23-28, 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IV ISA Forum of Sociology—planned to take place in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2020—was postponed and moved online to become the first virtual Forum in February 2021. RC32: Women, Gender, and Society had a very successful meeting, hosting 26 regular sessions, including eight joint sessions. Its sub-theme was “Global Inequalities in the 21st Century: Gender, Sexualities, Intimacies, and Intersectionality,” and RC32’s sessions brought together scholars from around the world and had a strong presence of members from the global South. To support global South scholars and students, RC32 was able to cover the registration costs for members from Category C countries who participated in the meetings. Below are a few highlights.

The Board wants to thank all RC32 organizers, chairs, presenters, and participants for making the Forum so successful! Recordings of RC32 sessions are available on the ISA website for the Forum under RC32 Women, Gender, and Society.

RC32 President Melanie Heath organized a Past-President’s Special Joint Session with RC05: Racism, Nationalism, Indigeneity, and Ethnicity in honor of the memory of Ann Denis (1945- 2019), who was an active member and served as Vice-President of RC32 from 1998 to 2006 and as President of RC05 from 2010-2014. Her research and publications focused on power relations within and between societies, particularly on the intersections of gender, ethnicity/race, and class with work, and on intersectionality within feminisms. In line with the RC32 sub-theme: “Global Inequalities in the 21st Century: Gender, Sexualities, Intimacies, and Intersectionality,” the session considered how global challenges that societies face today are fundamentally tied to inequalities of gender, race, class, intimate citizenship, and disability. Presenters included Margaret Abraham, Hofstra University, USA; Nira Yuval-Davis, University of East London, United Kingdom; Evangelia Tastsoglou, Saint Mary’s University, Canada; and Rhoda Reddock, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobogo.

While we were not able to gather in person in Brazil, RC32 offered sessions with a strong Latin- American thematic and included important scholars from Latin countries. RC32 Secretary Alicia Itati Palermo organized a Commons Session with RC10: Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management, GT CLASCO: Critical thinking and emancipatory practices, and GT Argentinian Sociological Association: Gender and Society titled, "Gender, Democracy and Inequality in Latin America” (co-chaired with past ISA President Margaret Abraham). This session examined how current setback in rights has increased inequality in one of the most unequal regions of the world—Latin America, and how nationalist politics weaken democracies through authoritarian methods of control. In many countries in Latin America, social protest is criminalized, social expenditures are being cut, and precarious employment grows. The panelists discussed how gender inequalities and their intersections with race, class, sexuality, among others, can be analyzed considering right-wing setbacks, as well as movements for social justice. Presenters included Bula Bhadra of Sister Nivedita University, New Town, Kolkata, India; Martha Nélida Ruiz Uribe of Rector of the University of Tijuana, Mexico; and Ana Cárdenas Tomazic of the Institut für Sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung ISF München.

A RC32 session that complemented the Commons Session was organized by Co-Presidents Elect Solange Simoes and Marlise Matos Almeida titled, “The ‘New Right’ War on Gender and Intersectional Responses across the World.” It featured papers that first discussed the Brazilian experience given this year’s ISA Forum location in Brazil, and the radical change in gender policies (including policies for women and LGBTQI + segments) that have taken place in Brazil and Latin America in the last decades—from the Pink Tide, in which the states in the region actively engaged in policy initiatives to address gender inequalities (new legislation, program creation, and varying public policy actions) to the arrivals of self-proclaimed New Right governments that have been leading to serious conservative setbacks and threats on the agenda to promote gender equality. It then turned to papers that considered the convergences and distinctions in both the “New Right” as well as in the feminist responses in various global locations, and the resulting possibilities of renewed forms of transnational feminist solidarities and alliances. Presenters included Marlise Matos Almeida, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil; Sonia Correa, ABIA/Sexuality Policy Watch – SPW, Brazil; Manisha Desai, University of Connecticut, USA; Janet Conway, Brock University, Canada; and Analia Torres, CIEG/ISCSP University of Lisbon, Portugal.

RC32 hosted an Author Meets Critics session for books published in 2019. It offered a lively discussion of four books: Women in Place: The Politics of Gender Segregation in Iran by Nazanin Shahrokni (2019, University of California Press) with discussants Azam Khatam, The City Institute, Canada, and Ayse Saktanber, Middle East Techincal University, Turkey; Gender and Migration: Transnational and Intersectional Prospects by Anna Amelina and Helma Lutz (Routledge, 2019); and Advances in Gender Research (Volumes 27 and 28), by Vicky Demos, Marcia Segal, and Kristy Kelly.

Here are the names of other sessions you might want to listen to if you didn’t get a chance to at the Forum in February:

  • Decolonial and Intersectional Feminisms: Weaving Friendships, Alliances and Liberation Politics Gender Violence and Experiences of Discrimination

  • Interrogating Sexualities and Intimacies: The Liberatory and Oppressive Politics of the 21st Century.

  • Gender, Violence and Migration

  • Gender, Language, and Politics

  • Women and Leadership

  • Intersectional Approaches to Gender, Diversities and Inequalities Regarding the MENA Region

  • Cadences of Everyday Gendered Migrant Lives

  • Decolonizing Gender: Gender Diversity from a Transnational Perspective

  • Gender Equality in the Rural Sector: The Ever Persistent Challenge

  • Women, Migration, and Work

  • Gender and Professions

  • Neoliberalism, Inequalities, and the Gendered Everyday

  • The Intersectional Discrimination of Gender Violence Due to Gender and Race

  • Gendered Resistances in Postcolonial and Transnational Context

  • Global Gender Occupational Inequality

  • Global Perspectives on Gender, Family, Labor, and Migration

  • Youth, Gender and Place

  • Culture, Religion, and Gender Inequality

  • Women’s Careers and the Process of Civilization

  • Marginal, Informal, Precarious: Studying Work from an Intersectional

  • Perspective in Different Societal and Spatial Contexts

  • The Use of Language in Media, Disruptions in Hegemonic Meanings, and the Resistance to Gender Violence


Melanie Heath is the President of RC32 and an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at McMaster University, Canada. As President of RC32, her objective is to provide opportunities for feminist sociologists across the globe to network and publish. Her research interests include gender, sexualities, family politics, globalization, and the law. She has studied gender and racial ideologies in the Promise Keepers movement; the social consequences of marriage promotion policies on inequality in the United States; the politics of family transformation and same-sex marriage: and comparative legal and cultural framings of polygamy in regard to women’s and religious rights.

Her publications appear in Gender & Society Qualitative Sociology, Signs The Sociology Quarterly, Sociological Perspectives, and Contexts. She is the author of One Marriage Under God: The Campaign to Promote Marriage in America (2012, New York University Press) and The How To of Qualitative Research (2016, Sage, with Janice D. Aurini and Stephanie Howells).


Note: This summary was also published in the Summer/Fall 2021 edition of the RC32 Newsletter (Volume #12)



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