Vrouwennetwerk Universiteit Utrecht


Dr. Kathrin Thiele in Pandora

In our latest issue of Pandora, dr. Kathrin Thiele tells about her work and ambitions. Unfortunately, her title is mentioned incorrectly: she’s an Associate Professor (UHD), not UD. Our apologies! You can read her contribution below.

Kathrin Thiele 2

Kathrin Thiele
UHD Gender Studies

Since 2010, I am working in the Graduate Gender Programme at UU and have dedicated my work to feminist philosophy and Gender Studies. Questions regarding lived differences and their recognition in our societies have always been a strong interest of mine, already during my studies of sociology at Bielefeld University (Germany) and my PhD in Comparative Literature and critical theory at the University of Buffalo (USA). Before joining UU, I was working in a philosophy department at the University of Potsdam (Germany). In these diverse fields, I have always pursued my research from a feminist perspective and dedicated myself to the advancement of critical thinking. Interdisciplinary and international cooperation is crucial to this, I think, and a core value of my work as a feminist and critical theorist.

To me, critical theory means to intellectually engage with the developments and conditions of the times we live in (one of my favourite authors, Virginia Woolf, stated it this way: “Think we must!”). I practice this especially at the intersections of feminism, queer theory, critical race studies and posthuman(ist) studies, and I focus on ‘difference’ as a key concept to understand the systemic entanglement of contemporary social relations. A crucial aspect of the humanities – inside, but also outside academia – lies in this: to continually challenge the ways we think about ourselves; to recognize that knowledges are always situated and emerging from asymmetrically structured contexts; and to pursue the ethical, political and epistemological implications of this for ‘our’ entangledness. In my research and teaching, I aim to make a contribution to this type of critical work, which is one of the pillars of a democratic civil society.

Educating students in these respects is vital to me and I highly value the university as one of the institutions in contemporary societies that foster such curiosity. However, with deep concern I also notice the increasing hostility toward and encroachment on academic freedom. In a climate where economic reasoning prevails, it is my ambition to continually  strengthen the new critical humanities. I actively strive to do so in my teaching, my writing and the interdisciplinary research network that I founded in 2012: terracritica.net.


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