All welcome to our Morgan Centre seminar, given by Kinneret Lahad (Tel Aviv University). Coffee from 2pm for 2.15pm start.
Singlehood and the violence of temporal normativity
After many years of studying the phenomenon of female singlehood, I am still surprised to discover the violent and degrading labels which continue to be ascribed to single women. Terms such as “Leftover Women” in China, “Parasite Women” in Japan, or “Withered Branches” in Arabic are ubiquitous. If we look at mainstream films, television series, advertisements and global popular media in general, the figure of the single woman still represents a discursive unease (Taylor 2012), and serves as an easy target for social scrutiny, fear and mockery. In my paper, I argue that the groundwork for understanding these degrading assumptions lies in the ways we perceive and enact time. More precisely, these assumptions are framed through the help of unquestioned temporal models, premises, and concepts. As a result, we cannot understand constructions of singlehood, or the natural and authoritative tone through which they are conveyed, without understanding how over-determined temporal categories are constituted. This might also be why it can be so difficult to resist and challenge many of the convictions about singlehood, because they are articulated through the language of time, a language characterized by its normative self-evident positions and regimes of truth. By proposing this new analytical direction, this paper seeks to rework some of our common conceptions of singlehood, and presents a new theoretical arsenal with which the temporal paradigms that devalue and marginalize single women can be reinterpreted.
Kinneret Lahad is a senior lecturer at the NCJW Women and Gender Studies Program at Tel Aviv University, Israel. She had been involved in various prestigious research projects, which merited international attention, praise, and materialized in publications in leading journals. Her research interests are interdisciplinary and span the fields of gender studies, sociology and cultural studies. She has written extensively on female singlehood, families and time connecting them to sociological and feminist theory. Her book A Table for One: A Critical Reading of Singlehood, Gender and Time was just published by Manchester University Press.
Her current projects include independent and collaborative studies on aunthood, friendships, feminism and emotions, feminist age studies, egg freezing and solo dining. For the last years she has taught in various academic institutions in Israel, Italy and the UK. She has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University, a visiting scholar and professor at Venice International University, a visiting lecturer at the Master MIM Erasmus Mundus graduate program at Ca'Foscari University in Venice and an honorary research fellow at Manchester University (UK).