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Closing the Door: Complaint as Diversity Work

Poster for Sara Ahmed's lecture.

Dr. Sara Ahmed’s lecture, “Closing the Door: Complaint as Diversity Work,” drew on interviews conducted with staff and students who have made complaints within universities that relate to unfair, unjust or unequal working conditions and to abuses of power such as sexual and racial harassment. It approaches complaint as a form of diversity work: the work some have to do in order to be accommodated. Making a complaint requires becoming an institutional mechanic: you have to work out how to get a complaint through a system. It is because of the difficulty of getting through that complaints often end up being about the system. The lecture explored the significance of how complaints happen 'behind closed doors,' and shows how doors are often closed even when they appear to be opened.

This special event was co-sponsored and presented by CRiCS, the Margaret Laurence Endowment Fund held jointly by the Institute of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Winnipeg, Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Manitoba, Gender and Women's Studies at Brandon University, and the Institute for Humanities at the University of Manitoba. CRiCS is providing the funds for ASL interpretation for this event.


Sara Ahmed is a feminist writer, independent scholar, and Killjoy who works at the intersection of feminist, queer and race studies. Her research is concerned with how bodies and worlds take shape; and how power is secured and challenged in everyday life worlds as well as institutional cultures. Until the end of 2016, Ahmed was a Professor of Race and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London having been previously based in Women’s Studies at Lancaster University. She resigned from her post at Goldsmiths in protest of the University's failure to deal with the problem of sexual harassment. Ahmed is the author of many notable books including Living a Feminist Life (2017), Willful Subjects (2014), and On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (2012). Her most recent writing can be found on her blog: http://feministkilljoys.com.