Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Volume 6, Issue 1
fall 2015
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Moe Gardner
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

WGSS Colloquium and Working Group

by Dina Omar and Ashley James

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We began this year’s WGSS Working Group series eagerly with an overflowing room of students, all in attendance to converse with Professor Elizabeth Alexander on the topic of “crafting a feminist and artistic life in and out of academy” through an engagement with work spanning decades of Professor Alexander’s career. The second event in this series was equally impactful: students read a chapter from Professor Inderpal Grewal’s forthcoming book Exceptional Citizens? Saving and Surveilling in Contemporary USA (forthcoming 2016, Duke University Press), and engaged in a lively discussion on surveillance and security in the U.S. and the cultures and counter-cultures that have emerged from an increasing awareness of the ideologies, infrastructure, and technology that supports surveillance. Professor Jafari Allen will be the final speaker this semester and will lead a discussion on black feminist ethnography as facilitated by Shapeshifters; Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship, Dr. Aimee Cox’s recent publication on young black women’s transformative subjectivities. Each of these professors’ presentations and attendant conversations reflect the Working Group’s deep commitment to interdisciplinary dialogue.

The Colloquium series began with presentations from Jessica Newman and Dina Omar, both PhD students in the Department of Anthropology. Newman’s presentation “Everyday Scandal: Representation and ‘Rights’ in the Moroccan Abortion Debate” discussed recent media controversies related to abortion and sexuality in Morocco as well as some of the conundrums surrounding accessibility of reproductive rights for Moroccan women. Omar’s presentation, “Debating Ghosts: An Ethnographic Study of the UC Berkeley Divestment Hearings,” analyzed the student government debates at UC Berkeley in 2010 surrounding the proposed resolution to divest student monies from two U.S. weapons manufacturers with direct links to war crimes in Gaza. The paper considered the discursive limits of “acceptable” speech around Israel/Palestine on U.S. campuses.

We look forward to our concluding Colloquium presenters this semester. First, Jenny Tang (GSAS, History of Art, Film and Media Studies) will present on the limits, implications, and potentials of gender in the “Drexicya” mythos alongside Ksenia Sidorenko (GSAS, Comparative Literature), who will explore language, race, and queer marginality in an early 20th century newspaper comic strip. Finally, Lindsay Branson (GSAS, History) will speak on the intersections between 1960s black power and gay liberation movements alongside Tomashi Jackson (School of Art), who will speak on her consideration of color, education, and public space as it relates to her artistic practice. That each of these students represent separate graduate departments at Yale reflects the Colloquium’s mission to think broadly and bravely across a variety of topics.
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