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The Personal Is Still Political: Challenging Marginalization through Theory, Analysis, and Praxis

Location: The Ray and Maria Stata Center
32 Vassar Street
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139
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Conference Dates: March 31st and April 1st, 2017

**Please note** Conference schedule is in development and subject to change. Please check back closer to the conference launch date for specific details about the keynote and panel presenters.

Registration            4.00pm – 7.00pm

Workshop with Keynote Panelists   5.00pm – 6.30pm

Enacting the Mantra: How “The Personal is Political” Shapes our Values and Actions

This introductory workshop will focus on the practical application of the values and theories embodied in the feminist mantra “the personal is political.” Participants will engage in discussion with one another to identify shared and personal values and will then discuss in smaller groups how these values may be enacted in various realms of praxis. Expert practitioners will lead smaller breakout groups and lend their perspectives to this dialogue. The workshop will conclude with a final discussion where we learn from one another and identify new, creative ways to push our practices in the contexts of activism, academia, and daily life.
More details to come!

Welcoming Remarks & Reception  6.45pm – 9.00pm

Registration            8.30am – 3.00pm

SESSION 1  ~  9.00am – 10.30am

Panel A: Masculinity & Modernity: Studies in Transmasculinity and Homosexuality

Nat Baldino (PhD, Women’s Studies, University of Maryland)

"Accumulation Failure, Gender Traitor: Grafting Transmasculinity as Critical Whiteness"

Seelai Karzai (MTS, Harvard Divinity School)

"Can the Queer Subaltern Speak? Coming Out Narratives in the Afghan Diaspora and the Politics of Neoliberal Visibility, Post-2004"

Jim Powell (PhD, Anthropology, SUNY Albany)

"Paradoxical Margins: An Intersectional Approach to Understanding Muslim Sexual Minorities in the West"

Svetlana Tcareva (PhD, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale)

"The Male Salome: Oscar Wilde in Russia After the Gay Propaganda Law"


Panel B: Performance as Praxis: Art & Representation as Modes of Resistance

Anna Kolesova (MA, History of Art & Architecture, Boston)

"Together Yet Apart: Felix Gonzalez-Torres in 1991"

Kyrstin Felts (MA, Communication Studies, McGill)

"Tumblr Feminism: the role of personal blog posts in building feminist communities online"

Ess Niessl (MA, WGSS, University of Albany)

"Reclaiming the Whore: Mimesis in Performance Art"

Jamielynn Varriale (PhD, Latino Studies, SUNY Albany)

"Crudo Soy: Los Crudos, Hardcore Punk, and Performative Identity Politics"

SESSION 2  ~  10.45am – 12.15pm

Panel C: Methodology as Praxis: New Approaches to Intersectional Analysis

Ellen Louis (PhD, American Studies, Yale)

"The Political is Personal: Neoliberal Diversions in Black Studies"

Kristen Maye (PhD, Africana Studies, Brown)

"The Political is Individual: Black Feminism on the Ground of Neoliberal Expansion"

Christina Riley (PhD, Cultural Studies, George Mason University)

"The Girl with the Blue Bra: An Intersectional, Affective Approach to the Egyptian Revolution’s Visual Symbol of Injustice”

Lila Teeters (PhD, History, University of New Hampshire)

"Sourcing the Personal: Lucy Maynard Salmon and the New History"

Panel D: Nasty Women: Feminist Acts of Resistance and Rebellion

Mafaz Al-Suwaidan (MTS, Harvard Divinity School)

"An [Intersectional] Room of One’s Own: Rewriting Western Notions of Agency"

Lauren Bernard (MFA, Music, Brandeis)

"I Get Out: Challenging representations of women and sexuality in rap and hip-hop culture"

Alexandra Gold (PhD, English, Boston University)

"Bad Girls and Nasty Women: The Reclamatory Power of Language"

Lena Eckert-Erdheim (PhD, History, Yale)

"Mobilizing Precarity: The Political Imagination of Rosika Schwimmer"


Panel E: Forging Communities and Forming Nations

Jalessah Jackson (MA, Gender/Cultural Studies, Simmons College)

"Sisters of the Global South: Black and South Asian-American Women in Solidarity"

Rachel Porter (MALD, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts)

"Building a Movement: Theories of Gendered Incommensurabilities Among Water Protectors at Standing Rock"

David Sulewski (PhD, Global Governance and Human Security, UMass Boston)

"The Butterfly Effect: Protection Strategies and Peacebuilding amidst violent conflict in Buenaventura, Colombia"


Salwa Tareen (MTS, Harvard Divinity School)

"Pakistan Personified: Gender, Religion, and Agency in the Movement for Pakistan"



KEYNOTE LUNCHEON 12.30pm – 2.30pm

Activists and scholars will discuss bridging the personal and the political in their fields of work. Particular attention will be paid to minority rights and the impact of the current political climate on theory, practice, and the possibilities for action.


Amy Den Ouden– Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, College of Liberal Arts, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Amy E. Den Ouden is a cultural anthropologist and associate professor of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is the author of Beyond Conquest: Native Peoples and the Struggle for History in New England (2005) and co-editor, with Jean M. O'Brien, of Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, and Indigenous Rights in the United States (2013). For over a decade, she worked as a researcher and writer for the Golden Hill Paugussett and Eastern Pequot federal acknowledgment projects. Her ongoing collaborative research with Ruth Garby Torres (Schaghticoke) is focused on Indian policy and Native self-determination in Connecticut. Other recent collaborations include her work with Ruth Garby Torres and Jennifer Weston (Lakota; Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Language Department Director) to design and co-teach a course on Indigenous Women's Leadership and Self-Determination at UMass Boston, and co-organizing, with Katherine Sebastian Dring (Chairwoman, Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation) a panel entitled "Cultural Heritage, Historical Trauma, and the Space for Justice: Eastern Pequot Reservation Land and Its Significance in the 21st Century" for the Cultural Landscapes & Heritage Values conference at University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2015. Her recent essays include "Histories with Communities: Struggles, Collaborations, Transformations" in Sources and Methods in Indigenous Studies (2017) and "Recognition and Rebuilding" in The World of Indigenous North America (2014). Currently her research is focused on gender violence, colonial law, and Indigenous rights in eighteenth-century southern New England.

Ruth Garby Torres (Schaghticoke)– Teaching fellow, Harvard University

Ruth Garby Torres (Schaghticoke) is a teaching fellow at Harvard University where she earned a Master in Public Administration. The course that she teaches, Nation Building: American Indians in the 21st Century, is a field-based research course, which focuses on some of the major issues Native American tribes and nations face as they seek to assert rights of self-determination today. Torres, who was elected to tribal council at age 16, has been involved in Indian affairs within her home state of Connecticut for much of her life. Her tribe's reservation, established by the Colony of Connecticut, is one of the oldest in the US. Torres serves as chair of Connecticut's Native American Heritage Advisory Council and is a trustee of the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT. Beyond the region, she has been an active participant on the National Congress of American Indians Federal Acknowledgement Task Force since 2003. Her chapter about the Schaghticokes' experience with the federal acknowledgment process is included in Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, and Indigenous Rights in the US: A Sourcebook, a volume edited by Amy Den Ouden and Jean M. O'Brien. Torres's chapter was a result of a co-presented paper with Dr. Den Ouden at the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association annual conference in 2009. Both Torres and Den Ouden continue their collaborative research and are currently examining the history, development and implementation of Connecticut public policy as it impacts the state's tribes. Other collaborations include the Schaghticoke chapter in Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England edited by Siobhan Senier in which Torres joined with Schaghticoke tribal elder Trudie Richmond as community editors for the volume, which also contains writings by Torres and Richmond.

Eva Millona– Executive Director, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

Eva A. Millona is Executive Director of the MIRA, the state’s largest organization representing the foreign born, and co-chair of the National Partnership for New Americans, the lead national organization focusing on immigrant integration. She joined MIRA in 1999 and served as Director of Policy and Advocacy and as Deputy Director before becoming Executive Director in 2008, and she is now one of New England’s most highly quoted immigration experts. Prior to MIRA, Ms. Millona directed the refugee resettlement program in Central Massachusetts. In her native Albania, she practiced civil and criminal law, serving on Tirana’s District Court from 1989 – 1992, when she was the nation’s youngest district judge ever appointed.

Juile Childers– Executive Director, Our Bodies Ourselves

Julie Childers is the executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves. Julie, who joined the organization in the spring of 2016, is leading OBOS forward as it enhances the quality and breadth of its online health content, strengthens its global partnerships, and works collaboratively with other women’s health organizations in the U.S. to promote women’s reproductive and sexual health. Prior to joining OBOS, Julie served as the vice president for sexuality education at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, where she led the effort against abstinence-only until marriage education and for a comprehensive sexuality curriculum for middle school students.

Panel Moderator:

Shameka N. Powell– Assistant Professor of Educational Studies, Department of Education, Tufts University

Shameka N. Powell is an Assistant Professor of Educational Studies and affiliated with the Master of Arts in Teaching program in the Department of Education at Tufts University. They hold an affiliate appointment in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program, also. Their research focuses on equality of educational opportunity and the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality in school spaces. Specifically, they interrogate how institutional agents create, exacerbate, and alleviate stratification patterns within schools. Shameka also examines critical literacy approaches teachers and students employ within classrooms. They situate their research within Critical Race Theory and Queer of Color Theories. They were awarded the 2015-2016 Dissertation of the Year award from American Educational Research Association's (AERA) Division G: Social Context of Education. Shameka earned their Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and their Master of Education and Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro. They taught high school English for five years in Greensboro, NC.

SESSION 3  ~  2.45pm – 4.15pm

Panel F: Demanding Recognition: Disease, Disability, and the State

Elicia Cousins (PhD, Sociology, Northeastern)

"'Hysterical Housewives,' Activist Mothers and Citizen Scientists: Gendered Constraints to Women’s Toxic Waste Activism"

Allison Hanna (PhD, English, Tufts)

"'I was my face': Lucy Grealy's Autobiography of a Face as Disability Activism"

Sanya Kumar (LLM, Yale Law School)

"Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Intellectually Disabled Women"

Valeria Stabile (MA, WGS, Utrecht University)

"'My words will be there': The Cancer Experience through the Words of Audre Lorde"


Panel G: Policing and Policy-ing the Body: Law and Legislation in the U.S.

Sasha Goodfriend (MA, Public Policy, Simmons)

"How 'Menstrual Equity' Flowed onto the U.S. Policy Agenda"

Molly Kelly (MA, WGS, George Washington)

"Beyond Butler: Transnormativity and Gender Superpositions"

Andrea Macone (MA, American Studies, UMass Boston)

"Anonymity as Closet: Addiction and Recovery in Political Discourse"

Alyssa J. Martin (MA, WGS, Brandeis)
"Creating Disability: Discourses of Heteronormative Desire and Able-bodiedness in Buck
v. Bell

Panel H: Telling Our Stories: First-Person Narratives and Oral Histories

Farah Ali (PhD, Spanish Linguistics, SUNY Albany)

"Trial and Error: a fictional narrative on the hijab"

Indira Bailey (PhD, Art Education and Women’s Studies, Penn State)

"Teaching While Black: Challenging the Sapphire in the Classroom"

Connie Guzman (MA, WGS, San Francisco State)

"We’re Not in Their Plans: Reimagining Community Space in San Francisco’s Mission"

Erika Tai (MPP, School of Public Policy, UMass Amherst)

"I Promise I'm Chinese: Transnational Adoptees' Notions of Kinship, Culture, and Identity"

SESSION 4  ~  4.30pm – 6.00pm

Panel I: Sexualizing Race / Racializing Sexuality

Ishan Gordon-Ugarte (PhD, Cultural Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center)

Jaspreet Mahal (MA, WGS, Brandeis)

"Control of female sexuality in India: Interplay of caste and gender"

Jerrine Tan (PhD, English, Brown)

"Crossing Boundaries: Intertexual, International, Interracial"

Armanc Yildiz (PhD, Social Anthropology, Harvard)

"Producing Whiteness through Moral Panics: The Case of Cologne Train Station"

Panel J: Monitoring Maternity: Pregnancy, Abortion, and Reproduction

Ellie Hamrick (PhD, Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center)

"Prison Nursery Programs and Ideologies of Motherhood"

Brenna McCaffrey (PhD, Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center)

"'DIY' Abortion in Transnational Feminist Contexts"

Burcu Mutlu (PhD, HASTS, MIT)

"Pregnancy as Kin-making: Transnational Gamete Donation in Turkey"

Derek Siegel (PhD, Sociology, UMass Amherst)

"Meaning-Making and the Sociology of Abortion Experiences"

Panel K: Love’s Labour’s Lost: Affective, Reproductive, and Domestic Labor

Gayathri Goel (PhD, English, Tufts)

"The Materiality of Affective Labor in Joan Riley's Waiting in the Twilight (1987)"

Nidhi Sen (MA, WGSS & Sustainable International Development, Brandeis)

"Women's Home-based Work in India: Labouring at the Margins"


For more information, contact

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The Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14N-211
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Phone: 617-324-2085

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