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NCRB – an IT–mediated Pilot Course on Sexuality, Identity & Empowerment, Spring–Autumn 2001

Invitation to the pilot course  |



The aim of the IT mediated pilot course was

  • to contribute to collaborative learning locally, in the crisis centre work units, and transregionally, through lateral dialogue across the East–West divide

  • to support adoption of new Internet-mediated practices in distance training and education, and in campaigning

  Specific IT qualifications trained

  • using browser-softwares (like Internet Explorer, Netscape Communicator)

  • surfing in the Internet, in hypertext

  • using multimedia (CD-roms)

  • information search from the Internet (search engines like Google, AltaVista etc.)

  • using e-mail for participating in discussionlists

  • participating in interactive discussion forum

  • publishing one's own material in the Internet

  • using distant learning environment (TelsiPro software)


  • accessing other information available in the Internet (like public services, democratic participation, access to fund raising information, travelling services, leisure, art and media services, commerce and enterprises) 
  • accessing immediate (on-line) information exchange
  • accessing also to other networks available in the Internet


  • NCRB-affiliated crisis centres in NW Russia (Severomorsk, Murmansk, Apatity, Polyarnye Zori, Arkhangelsk, Petrozavodsk, St. Petersburg), in Norway (Tromsø, Bodø), in Sweden (Luleå, Umeå) and in Finland (Rovaniemi, Oulu)

  • NCRB project teams at Pomor University and Oulu University

  • NCRB partner in the training programme, Northern Feminist University, Steigen, Norway


1. November 2000 – March 2001

  • planning

  • making the web–pages; preparing the course material

  • contacting and visiting the centres involved, in order to discuss the aims of the course and to make sure that the infrastructure and skills are sufficient

2. March – May 2001

  • invitation to the course on March 8, International Women’s Day

  • course participation: group work locally; dialogue across the Nordic–Russian border (reading, writing, analysing, debating)

  • tutoring by the course personnel

3. May – June 2001

  • work in Nordic–Russian groups in the context of a NCRB contact training course on feminism and counselling at Arkhangelsk, May 28 – June 3

4. June – September 2001

  • evaluation of the course and its results

  • publishing the evaluation and results in the Internet

5. September-October 2001

Follow-up course




The course aimed to provide tools for critical self–reflection by the crisis centre personnel themselves, and for work with clients. It focused on problems and issues revolving around female socialisation and identity formation in connection with the body and its sexualisation from childhood to adult life. It especially explored processes related to body integrity, its violation as well as experiences of pleasure and happiness, in order to analyse the role of sexuality in the objectification and maltreatment of girls and women. Women’s empowerment – striving for self-confidence, autonomy, and liberation – were strengthened through analysis of the links and interrelations between everyday experience and cultural and historical structures as asymmetrically-gendered values, norms, presentations, and practices. The struggle towards empowerment was also reflected in different national contexts, in order to increase understanding across the East-West divide. In the long run, the aim was to also create a basis for long-term campaigning, when combating violence against women and prostitution and trafficking of women and for thereby advancing “Women’s Peace” in the Barents region as a whole. The course also encouraged reflections and debates on “feminism” within its specific problematics, that were carried out at the contact course at Arkhangelsk in May–June 2001.


The method used is called Collective Work of Memory (Erinnerungsarbeit), developed by a group of women activists and scholars in psychology, sociology, and cultural studies in Germany in the 1980s, under the direction of Frigga Haug. (See Frigga Haug et al.: Female Sexualization. A Collective Work of Memory. Verso 1992; Sexualisierung. Frauenformen 2. Argument Verlag 1983.)

Memory work further develops the consciousness-raising method from the women’s movements in the 1970s. In a nutshell, it uses memory both as an object and as an instruments of reflection, studying, and learning. In concrete terms, memory work is based on stories written by the group members, often completed with photos and pictures, and analysed within the group, and finally re-written. Basically, it strives to link previous everyday experiences of individual girls and women and their thoughts, feelings, and sensations, with the dominant, socially-acceptable structures. By this historical recollection, we are made aware of events forgotten and yet still part of our identity and behaviour today. It also pays special attention to silences, gaps, breaks, and contradictions in memory. Through this, it opens up possibilities for exploring both how women themselves submit to male-defined structures, and how and where we can find elements of resistance and alternative identities. By stressing the importance of comparison and of temporarily adopting the viewpoint of others, memory work is a useful tool both for theorising and for constructing the collective and multi-voiced subject and therefore suitable for developing a praxis of transversal dialogue and politics.

The course personnel

  • Aino Saarinen, NCRB project director (Oulu); Olga Liapounova, NCRB project manager (Arkhangelsk)

  • Leena Teräs (Oulu) & Irina Balandina (Arkhangelsk), NCRB IT-coordinators

  • NCRB training work group: Marit Stemland, Northern Feminist University, Steigen; Eva Engman & Mildred Hedberg, Iris, Shelter for Women, Luleå; Natalia Khodyreva, Institute of Non–discriminatory Gender Interrelations / Psychological Crisis Centre for Women, St. Petersburg

  • Comments and help were also received from Vappu Sunnari, Oulu University, Pirjo Elovaara, Blekinge Institute of  Technology, Kerstin Hägg, Umeå University, and Laura Tohka, Tampere University.  

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