2015 - 2016 CRG Forum Series

2015 - 2016 CRG Forum Series

Bios reflect speakers' status at the time of their presentation at the Center for Race and Gender.


Flyer for 4-21-2016 CRG Forum

Market/Place: The Structural Emotional Violence of Food Politics

04.21.2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall

Bodyscapes in Transformation; An Intersectional Feminist Political Ecology of Capitalist Agriculture and Environmental Epigenetics
Melina Packer, Environmental Science, Policy, Management

Capitalism has operated in tension with agriculture since its earliest inceptions, and contemporary food production continues to provoke socio-environmental crises and Marxist critique. Even as various peasant communities and ecological phenomena resist and thwart differentiation and commodification, post-industrial capitalist agriculture evolves to newly transfigure (rural) livelihoods along with their entangled social relations and “natural” landscapes. Whether via direct contact with toxic pesticides, consumption of industrially produced food, or genetic modification, “natural” bodies and “social” constructs fundamentally and continuously (re-)shape one another. Moreover, the intersections of structural racism, classism, and sexism produce disproportionate body burdens for women, people of color, and (im)migrant laborers. The nascent field of environmental epigenetics brings an additional web of complexity to this socionature (Harvey 1996), revealing how environmental traumas (from warfare to Welfare) affect gene expression and phenotype development, both within a lifetimeand across generations, without altering DNA code. A political ecology of the body (Hayes-Conroy and Hayes-Conroy 2015) analysis further reveals the power asymmetries behind the porous boundaries of human/animal bodies, social institutions, and the so-called natural environment. Combining this scholarly perspective with that of feminist science and technology studies (STS), I seek to unveil how human/animal health is both socially (re)produced and viscerally embodied. For example, given that exposure to toxic pesticides on California’s industrial strawberry farms can negatively affect not only the health of a migrant woman farmworker, but also that of her future granddaughter, arguably individual well-being is less a matter of personal agency, or neo-Darwinian genetics, than an outcome of structural violence.

“They don’t even sell Black water”: Boundaries, Belonging and Food Choice

Kara A. Young, Sociology

How do race and class shape what individuals think they should be eating from day to day and where they choose to buy their food? There is a growing body of literature addressing the connections between food choice, race and class disparities, and health outcomes in the United States. This literature suggests that race and class inform our food choices by shaping what we can afford to consume, the kinds of foods available in the neighborhoods in which we live, and differential levels of human capital such as education. However, these studies say little about the symbolic and emotional experience of eating food and how these dimensions interact with structural constraints or possibilities. Through in-depth interviews and extended ethnographies with a race and class diverse sample of individuals in one food dense neighborhood of Oakland, California, I find that race and class inform where individuals feel comfortable eating and shopping for food as well as the kinds of foods that they believe belong to them. These symbolic and affective meanings reinforced structural constraints in profound ways. In this presentation, I will explore how respondents came to understand where they belonged and where they didn’t belong with regards to eating and shopping for food and the boundaries that they constructed in order to make meaning out of their choices and constraints. I will then consider the implications of these findings for understanding food related health disparities.

Melina Packer is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (Society and Environment Division), where she studies food and health-related social movements through an intersectional feminist lens. Guided by political ecology and feminist science and technology studies, Melina is especially interested in how the agricultural landscape and “bodyscape” dialectically come into being.

Kara Young is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Berkeley. Her research focuses on the moral and emotional dimensions of food choice in two neighborhoods of Oakland, California. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Kara holds a BA in sociology from Brown University and an MA in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a graduate fellow at the Berkeley Food Institute on a project called Building Equity and Inclusion Food Programming at UC Berkeley as well as a past fellow at the Center for Research on Social Change.

LISTEN - Click to hear "Market/Place: The Structural Emotional Violence of Food Politics"

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Flyer for 3-17-2016 CRG Forum

A Taste for Palestine: The Politics of Consumption for a Disappearing Landscape

03.17.2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM |  Anthony Hall 

Dr. Lila Sharif, Gender Women’s Studies
Prof. Minoo Moallem, Gender Women’s Studies

What happens when indigenous commodities become consumed transnationally through fair trade, organic, and other alternative food movement circuits? What are the impacts of these evolving consumption practices on native producers and consumers, and how can this contribute to what we know about the processes of settler-colonialism? In my work, I use the olive as an optic to analyze the production, circulation, and consumption of indigenous commodities from farmers in the West Bank. Through a transnational feminist framework that ties materiality of land loss and environmental degradation with ideas about indigeneity and authenticity, this presentation explores the ways in which neoliberal multiculturalism is able to co-reside with settler-colonialism.

Palestinian livelihoods are contingent upon the thriving of the olive and its extractions for culinary, bodily, spiritual, and cultural purposes. As Palestinians continue to experience the decimation of their lands, the consumption of Palestinian olive oil has become increasingly popular through transnational fair trade circuits that have allowed Palestinian olive oils, soaps, and tapenades to appear on shelves at Whole Foods markets and elsewhere. In this presentation, I examine the racialized and gendered tropes of Palestinian indigeneity through which Palestine is made brandable and digestible to Western consumers. As such, I introduce the concept of vanishment as a way to describe the processes of transforming, disappearing, replacing, and depoliticizing native subjectivities and claims to land.

This presentation offers new ways of understanding the complexities of settler-colonialism, one in which the olive tree and the hearth can be understood as a site of knowledge and struggle. Through in-depth and precarious ethnography, I offer insight into the ways in which settler colonialism, and the processes of vanishing native peoples and their subjectivities, co-resides with neoliberal multiculturalism. In this way, this presentations illuminates the ways in which settler-colonialism is both material and cultural—racial and gendered formulations of abject native subjects contributes to their disappearance. However, I show how native subjects are not dormant or passive recipients of vanishment; instead, they act against vanishment in the most intimate moments and sites: where food is prepared, where stories are told, and where olives are picked.

Lila Sharif is a U.C. President’s Postdoctoral Diversity Fellow in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a dual Ph.D. in Sociology and Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego. She is the first Palestinian American to earn a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies.

What happens when indigenous commodities become consumed transnationally through fair trade, organic, and other alternative food movement circuits? What are the impacts of these evolving consumption practices on native producers and consumers, and how can this contribute to what we know about the processes of settler-colonialism? Through fine-grained, in-depth ethnography in the West Bank, Lila Sharif explores production, circulation and consumption of fair trade olive oil from Palestine in order to analyze the cultural, labor, economic, and gender politics of commodities from settler-colonial contexts.

Co-sponsored by the Queer Transgender Advocacy Project at the Graduate Assembly


Flyer for 3-10-2016 CRG Forum

Lawful Conquest: Liberal Rights Colonial Legacies

03.10.2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall

Indigenous Rights as a Legacy of Colonialism?
Dr. Ulia Gosart, UCLA

An investigation into the origins of a legal idea “indigeneity” reveals a genealogical lineage between contemporary indigenous rights mechanisms and the norms constructed to discipline colonial populations at the last quarter of the 19th century. The legacy of colonial policy is exhibited in a somewhat paradoxical positioning of an indigenous element in the current international legal system: a recognition of a group as eligible to benefit from this system simultaneously reestablishes this group as legally dependent upon dominating it state government. This re-enacting of the dependency status of the groups, who prior to colonization existed as self-governing legal and political units, by the very means constructed to mitigate the consequences of the colonialism makes one ask: what are the factors which led to the existence of indigeneity as a colonial legacy in the contexts of post-colonialism?

This presentation approaches this complex question by examining connections between colonial events of the last quarter of the 19th century, a particular mode of thought these events helped to engender, and implications colonial ideas of race and sovereignty on composition of the first standards focused on the rights of colonized (and later indigenous) populations. Particularly, it examines the work of leading 19th century legal theorists and founders of the discipline of international law to demonstrate

  1. how conceptions of race, sovereign state and law developed in their work supported a vision of colonized peoples as “undeveloped” races and individuals subjected to guardianship of the “civilized nations”, and
  2. how ideas of these theorists emerged in response to the general climate of colonial conquest of the last quarter of the 19th century.

This work is a contribution to a wider investigation of the historical foundations of the contemporary regime of indigenous rights. It aspires to gain a deeper understanding of connections between establishment of indigenous rights as those of the colonized populations, dependent upon the protection of the state and international communities, and the contemporary conception of indigenous peoples as groups with a right to self-determined existence.

Race and the Violence of Love: Eliminating the Native in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl
Dr. Kit Myers, Interdisciplinary Humanities

Despite the legal protections of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which was passed to prevent the widespread break up of Indian families, there are many instances involving Native American children being adopted by white parents. This talk would examine the recent U.S. Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (2013) that awarded the custody of four-year-old “Baby Veronica” to a white adoptive couple in South Carolina instead of her Cherokee father, Dusten Brown. While the case seemingly revolved around Brown’s parent and custody status, I argue that Brown and Veronica’s “Indianness” as well as “white rights” were at the heart of the legal dispute. I draw from Patrick Wolfe’s concept of the “logic of elimination” and contend that this case illustrates how the confluence of racial difference, settler colonialism, and liberalism work in concert to privilege white adoptive parents over Indigenous parents and tribes. Together, these logics of white supremacy have again posited the former as an opposite and better future than the latter, showing how love can engender violence. In Adoptive Couple, white adoptive parents are imagined as loving and moral while Indigenous parents and tribes are represented as backwards, abusive, neglectful, and absent. In particular, the specter of “fake Indigenous” fatherhood was represented as a danger to children and potential adoptive parents. This talk reveals the unique nature of Native American adoptions but also shows how they are still similarly wedded to racialized and gendered constructions of proper family and parenthood.

Ulia Gosart (Popova) holds a Ph.D. from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In her work she examines connections between social content of United Nations (U.N.) policy instruments, pertinent to the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, and indigenous political participation. Ulia’s research interests emerged from her human rights work, starting with the service to an umbrella indigenous rights organization from Russia, which she represented at the United Nations from 2004 to 2009. She organized educational events during sessions of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Rights; created a policy source working in collaboration with U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization (Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous Peoples 2009). At UCLA she has been collaborating with the scholars from American Indian Studies Center; in 2010 she led a grant funded study in cooperation with the Hopi Indians of Arizona as a Principal Investigator (Protecting Cultural and Intellectual Property: The Case at Hopi). She continues her work at the Center as a Visiting Scholar (2015-16). Ulia’s publications are available online: https://ucla.academia.edu/UliaPopova.

Kit Myers received his Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Currently, he is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Merced. Myers has published an article in Critical Discourse Studies entitled, “‘Real Families’: The Violence of Love in New Media Adoption Discourse,” and a chapter in an edit volume called, “Creating (Un)equal Families in The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.” Myers has also contributed articles on adoption research for the online magazine, Gazillion Voices and is on the leadership team of the Adoption Museum Project.

LISTEN - Click to hear "Lawful Conquest Liberal Rights & Colonial Legacies"

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Flyer for 2-25-2016 CRG Forum

#BlackMasculinity: Race, Gender and the Politics of Twitter

02.25.2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall

#MasculinitySoFragile: Dismantling Toxic Masculinity From the Inside Out
Anthony Williams, Sociology

This autoethnographic essay explores my experiences practicing public sociology through the medium of Twitter. I joined Twitter in 2009 and I gain followers daily as I tweet about #BlackLivesMatter as well as the targeted murders of brown, trans, indigenous, queer, and differently abled folks. By centering marginalized folks in my consciousness raising, I write for my audience. With #MasculinitySoFragile, I write for an audience who also seeks to dismantle oppressive systems like patriarchy. Unfortunately, my hashtag also attracted “internet trolls” who threatened my life, thereby embodying what I critiqued: the violent reaction when anyone challenges hegemonic masculinity, even—or especially—on Twitter. Sociologists and academics in all fields have an opportunity to wield Twitter as a public sociology methodology for consciousness raising; #MasculinitySoFragile and #ASA15 are case studies of the potential.

Drawing on my experience at the American Sociological Association conference and tweeting with the hashtag #ASA15, I gained 413 new followers and 1.02 million 11 tweet impressions in just one month. I started #MasculinitySoFragile the next month, and I gained 799 new followers and 1.52 million tweet impressions. A tweet makes an “impression” anytime a user sees it, regardless of if they engage. Each impression is an opportunity to engage a user in ‘doing’ sociology outside of academia. I argue that Twitter is another avenue of sharing our scholarship and holding ourselves publically accountable for our role as scholars. Like Audre Lorde, I believe that the personal is political and that we can use Twitter to connect to those we study but rarely reach with our research. With #MasculinitySoFragile, anyone could and still can add their voice. But finally, #MasculinitySoFragile is public sociology that transcends lectures or books to expose the brutal violence that often targets women when they say something as simple as “no” to a man socialized into toxic masculinities.

#Ferguson2Cal: Social Media and Activism from Campus to Community
Blake Simons, Political Science

The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter is both synonymous with the current movement to end police terrorism, as well as the ability to use social media for protests online and in the streets. Young people are using new media tools like Twitter to elevate racist threats and hate crimes from simply being local stories into global news. From Ferguson to Baltimore, from Chicago to Oakland, from the streets to universities, young people are making our voices heard.

This essays explores my experiences as an activist using Twitter as a tool to amplify mobilizing and organizing efforts at UC Berkeley and in the wider Bay Area. Using the autoethnographic method, I share my transformation from a student athletic to a student activist, highlighting my experiences as a Black man experiencing issues of racial profiling and police violence, white terrorism and the Black Radical Tradition. I specifically focus on #Ferguson2Cal and Black student efforts at UC Berkeley, the Charleston Massacre, and #BerkeleyKKK and the response of Black students at Berkeley high school to a racist hate crime. Since fall 2014, I’ve gained over 4,000 followers on Twitter. Activists can use social media to both express a fearless voice of new Black man that does not reproduce the harmful effects of patriarchy.

Anthony J. Williams is Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He transferred from Solano Community College, where he studied drama and still practices as an actor director, including touring Northern California with Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program. He studied abroad at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is working on a senior honors thesis examining the relationship between self-care, sexuality, and leadership in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. He is a writer with the Afrikan Black Coalition and has also been published in The Independent, Black Girl Dangerous, and the Daily Californian.

Blake Simons is a UC Berkeley senior studying Political Science. He is a former student athlete. He is a member of the Cal Black Student Union. He is deputy communications director for the Afrikan Black Coalition, a statewide collective of Black students in California.

LISTEN - Click to hear "#BlackMasculinity: Race, Gender and the Politics of Twitter"

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Flyer for 2-18-2016 CRG Forum

Dreams and Visions of Palestine:  From Jerusalem to the San Francisco Bay Area -- The Power of Portraits in Narratives

02.18.2016| 4:00 – 5:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall

Scholarship exploring the significance of photography in oral history narratives has been increasing in recent years. Building on this scholarship, this panel suggests that photographs add another dimension to narratives. More specifically, photographs provide an opportunity for interviewees to assert their agency through nonverbal expressions and the settings they inhabit.

To further advance the argument, this panel juxtaposes two oral history projects with portraits of Palestinians living under occupation and in diaspora. In the first project, Palestinians Envision Life Without Occupation, Irum Shiekh combines text with portraits of Palestinians living in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Birzeit. In the second project, Najib Joe Hakim uses audio with portraits of Palestinians living in the San Francisco Bay Area. The audience is asked to test the credibility of the text and audio as they link the narratives to the portraits. In both projects, interviewees share their aspirations, dreams and visions of their homeland as they discuss themes of occupation, occupation of diaspora, liberation, alienation, homeland, and belonging. Combining photos with narratives, this panel examines some of the multidimensional meanings that visuals assign to oral histories and thereby expands the ways oral history can be used to capture marginal voices.

Palestinians Envision Life Without Occupation (Irum Shiekh) highlights the resilience of Palestinians in their struggle for their homeland. The project examines the power of imagination as a resistance strategy that Palestinians under occupation have used while they continue to envision a homeland with prosperity, equality, “uninterrupted landscape,” mobility, and stable democratic government. The interviewees assert that pervasiveness of military checkpoints, walls, prisons, killings and restrictions have not deterred them in their struggles for a nation that is free of occupation. The project invites the audience to read the narratives along with the photos and explore the agency of interviewees in the advancement of social change and social justice.

Home Away from Home: Little Palestine by the Bay (Najib Joe Hakim) explores the questions: “What does it mean to be Palestinian in America?” and “What does it look like to live under the occupation of diaspora?” These interviews show how Palestinian Americans’ memories and ideas about Palestine collide with their daily lives in the US, a country whose political culture is profoundly antagonistic toward Palestinian national aspirations? Home utilizes audio recordings to “animate” the interviews and B W portraits of Palestinians living in the SF Bay Area, the second largest Palestinian community in the US. Audience members are able to experience the literal voice (with all its subtle and profound messages) as they look into the interviewee’s photographed face.


Irum Shiekh is the author of Detained Without Cause: Muslim’s Stories of Detention/Deportation in America after 9/11 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). Her book features narratives of six immigrants, wrongfully arrested in connection with the 9/11 attacks, and later deported for minor immigration/criminal charges. Her documentary, Hidden Internment: The Art Shibayama Story (2004) provides examples of extraordinary renditions of Japanese during World War II. For the year 2010-2011, she was a Fulbright Scholar at Birzeit University in Palestine. Her latest research provides oral histories and portraits of Palestinians and their visions about their lives and homeland without occupation. Currently she teaches in the department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon, Eugene.

Najib Joe Hakim works as a documentary photographer and photojournalist in San Francisco. His work has been published in national and international magazines and newspapers. He has won numerous awards including Best Photo Essay from the CA Newspaper Publishers Assoc., 1st Prize in the Luminance Exhibition 2012 (NYC), top ten photo projects of 2008 by Social Documentary Network. He was also a nominee for the US Artist Fellowship. He is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Masters Program in Contemporary Arab Studies, as well as the Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management. He obtained his BA in Philosophy and History from the University of Virginia, after which he studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Hakim’s current personal project: Home Away from Home: Little Palestine by the Bay juxtaposes recorded oral histories with B W portraits. The project explores how Palestinians in the SF Bay Area maintain ties to their homeland while living in a country whose political culture abhors their personal aspirations. The viewer will be able to hear the voice of the person while looking into their photographed eyes. Link: http://electronicintifada.net/content/palestinian-america-najib-joe-hakims-home-away-home/14073.

HOME was exhibited at Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco Nov. 2014 and The Jerusalem Fund Gallery in Washington, DC in Sept. 2015. It is scheduled for another San Francisco exhibition at the Jewett Gallery in Civic Center in the fall of 2016. HOME follows his Born Among Mirrors in which Hakim portrayed his own family’s journey from Palestine to the United States. Mirrors has been exhibited in galleries on both coasts. Parts of the project can be viewed at:http://socialdocumentary.net/photographer/Najib%20Joe%20Hakim. In conjunction with Mirrors, he co-produced with Laurie Coyle a ten minute video about the experience of the Hakim family, called Cooking Lessons: A Palestinian American Story, which can be seen at: http://vimeo.com/31985970.

Co-sponsored by CRG's Research Working Group, Muslim Identities and Cultures.

LISTEN - Click to hear "Dreams and Visions of Palestine: From Jerusalem to the San Francisco Bay Area"

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Flyer for 12-3-2015 CRG Forum

The Politics of Performance: Fiesta, Dance, Creative Publics

12.03.2015| 5:00 – 6:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall

Devil Moves: The figure of the devil in popular fiestas and carnivals of the Americas
Prof. Angela Marino, Theater, Dance Performance Studies

The devil figure in fiestas and carnivals is one of the most beloved across the hemisphere. It shows up as vejigantes, cojuelos, jab jabs, and diablitos to name a few. By tracing these multiple devil figures in fiestas, religious manifestations and carnivals, they also tell a story of political organization and territorial claims. This talk will present a site and book project on Festive Devils of the Americas, to discuss how these important figures of the fiesta leave a trail of material and embodied evidence of the persecution of that which was named pagan, and also a practice of reintegration and historical continuity across national boundaries.

La Expresión de un Sentimiento: Mexican Dance for Transnational Publics
Prof. Olga Najera-Ramirez, UC Santa Cruz

This paper draws upon my larger research project on Mexican folkórico dance as a cultural expression, one that merits research as a cultural movement sustaining and creating cultural vibrancy in communities in Mexico and the United States. In this presentation, I focus on distinguished artist, Rafael Zamarripa Castañeda, who has had an extraordinary impact on the transnational development of folkórico dance. Zamarripa is a central innovator in the field. He recognized that beyond being a traditional form of expression that should be preserved, folkórico is a very live and generative art form that builds community and connection to cultural heritage. Based on original research, I offer an intimate portrayal of Zamarripa as a multidisciplinary artist (theater, dance, visual arts) and visionary leader committed to humanizing society through the arts and highlight his significant contributions to the widespread growth of Mexican folkórico dance.

LISTEN - Click to hear "The Politics of Performance: Fiesta, Dance, Creative Publics"

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Flyer for 11-19-2015

Theorizing Black Masculinity: Sexuality, Authenticity, Self-Construction

11.19.2015| 5:00 – 6:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall

Between Class Lines: Politics of Respectability and the Ghetto Allure in the Romantic Relationships of Middle-Class Black Men
Joy Hightower, Sociology

Marriage and family literature has routinely emphasized Black poor and white middle-class comparisons. As a consequence, understandings about Black relationships are fundamentally about the poor, while studies of middleclass relationship patterns are fundamentally about whites. The relationship decisions and intimate experiences of the Black middle-class (BMC) are thoroughly understudied; and as a result, continue to be constructed through the lens of the Black poor. Recent studies of BMC relationship patterns invoke all too familiar narratives: BMC men, like low income Black men, are still considered economic and social failures. Despite little research that has empirically studied them, BMC men continue to be offered as an explanation for Black women’s singleness. In this presentation, I link stigmatizing discourses about declining rates of “Black” marriage, increasing rates of interracial marriage among successful Black men, and the perennial placement of Black men outside of fatherhood to racial projects of mass incarceration and homosexual deviance. Through interviews with BMC men, I examine how these discourses shape their perceptions and understandings of dating, relationships, and marriage. I consider 1) how they see themselves as romantic partners, 2) how they contest or endorse racial stereotypes, and 3) how women’s assessments and perceptions of their racial authenticity reinforce social boundaries of subjugated forms of Blackness. I find that there is a correlation between BMC men’s perceived racial authenticity and women’s sexual desire. I will discuss how respondents interpret and rationalize their own desirability amidst assessments of their race-based and class-based presentations.

Poems That Shoot Guns: The Black Arts Movement and Emasculating Authorship
Zachary Manditch-Prottas, African American Studies

Perhaps no work of the American Black Arts Movement is more infamous and polarizing than Amiri Baraka’s’ aptly titled poem, “Black Art”. In the poem Baraka calls for “Poems that shoot guns” and “poems that kill”. A telling rhetoric nuance of the text is that the author calls for poems and not poets that will “shoot guns”; demanding “Poems†that kill”, rather than poets that kill. While poets are to author these violent “live words” there is no mention that they will partake in violence literally. To my reading Baraka’s selection of poem over poet should not be regarded as merely a semantic oversight but rather as a telling signifying instance by which to consider how the ambition of BAM literature functioning as black liberatory action ironically traverses with BAM theorizations of the racial and gendered restrictions that writing poses and signals.

This essay explores the implications of Baraka’s language as a case study evidential of a critical paradox, and subsequent anxiety, implicit, and often explicit, in the Black Arts Movement regarding the ambivalent masculine prowess and racial authenticity of black male authors. It will be argued that while within the purview of BAM ethos the written word was meant to be, as well as meant to catalyze, revolutionary action they also served as the author’s announcement of physical action deferred. Returning to the example of “Black Art” the violence of the poem†serves as the evidential paper trail of the inactivity of the poet. Baraka’s murderous words are proof that he is not, at least at present, killing anybody. My essay will explore the interlocking racial, gender and sexual ramifications of violent words. In effect, my essay will consider Baraka’s poem as evidential of the following anxieties of BAM authorship 1: physical inaction announced as displacement from the masculine corporeality made paramount by BAM conceptions of black revolutionary action and, 2: the author’s relationship to the white emasculation, often articulated through sexual epithet, BAM theorists associated with American literature.


Flyer for 11-5-2015 CRG Forum

Carnal Knowledge: Vanessa del Rio: 50 Years of Slightly Slutty Behavior

11.05.2015| 5:00 – 6:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall

Juana María Rodríguez, Gender Women’s Studies

Using the biography,Vanessa del Rio: Fifty Years of Slightly Slutty Behavior, this paper considers how images and text function as complicated triggers for the attachments, identifications, desires, and traumas of our own corporeal embodiments and sexual histories. It reflects on those moments, when as readers and viewers, we encounter the limits of our own understandings of pleasure in our attempt to make meaning out of the experiences of another.

Juana María Rodríguez is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is also core faculty in the Graduate Group in Performance Studies. She is the author of Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings (2014) and Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces (2003). This presentation is based on a new book project on how the juxtaposition of images and auto/biographical forms of narrative shape the representation of sex workers.

LISTEN - Click to hear "Carnal Knowledge: Vanessa del Rio: 50 Years of Slightly Slutty Behavior"

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Flyer for 10-29-2015 CRG Forum

Transforming Universal Love into Decolonial Love as an Indigenous Feminist Praxis

10.29.2015 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall

Transforming Universal Love into Decolonial Love as an Indigenous Feminist Praxis:  Pocahontas, The New World, and Leanne Simpson’s Islands of Decolonial Love
Dr. Chris Finley, Rutgers University

This paper disrupts narratives of universal love that frame the creation story of the United States as a settler colonial nation-state and capitalism. The creation story I refer to is the Pocahontas, John Smith, and John Rolfe love triangle that ends with a legally recognized marriage between Pocahontas and John Rolfe. Through this relationship, Rolfe marries an Indian princess and more importantly, gains large property rights to Powhatan lands as part of Pocahontas’ dowry. This narrative in Terrance Malick’s film The New World works to legitimate the conquest of Native America through erasing the violence of settler colonialism by making conquest a love story. In this film, love is constructed as a universal narrative, which works to universalize settler colonialism through narratives of heteronormativity. My paper will unravel this film and this narrative. Universalism is not a winning strategy for Indigenous peoples because our creation stories, sovereignty, and relationships with each other challenge the very legitimacy of the United States. As an alternative to universal love through compulsory heterosexuality, Leanne Simpson’s Islands of Decolonial Love (2013) offers stories, poetry, and songs about relationships between other Indigenous peoples and the land. I use Simpson’s theorization of decolonial love as a means of decolonizing and queering Native America, which offers new possibilities for Indigenous peoples, Native Nations, and Native studies.

Chris Finley is a member of the Colville Confederated tribes. She received her doctorate degree in American Culture at the University of Michigan in 2012. Dr. Finley is a co-editor and contributor to Queer Indigenous Studies: Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature from the University of Arizona press 2011. Her current work examines the decolonizing possibilities of a sex positive pedagogy, the legalization of gay marriage in the Colville nation, and the affects of sexualized images of Indigenous peoples in popular culture. Presently, she is Race and Gender Post-Doctoral Fellow in History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

LISTEN - Click to hear "Transforming Universal Love into Decolonial Love as an Indigenous Feminist Praxis"

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Flyer for 10-22-2015 CRG Forum

Reconstructing Immigrant Women: Coercion, Criminalization, Commerce

10.22.2015 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall

Producing Export-Grade Labor for the Global Economy: Indonesia’s Women Migrant Domestics at the Point of Production
Andy Scott Chang, Sociology

While a burgeoning body of migration literature has examined the subordination of women migrant domestic workers, who are increasingly relied upon to ameliorate the “care deficit” in industrialized countries, less attention has been paid to the ways in which export-grade labor is consciously manufactured in sending countries to satisfy host state needs. My talk will focus on the Indonesian state’s historically bifurcated strategy of managing the export of women domestics to the newly affluent economies of the Middle East and East Asia while overlooking the undocumented migration of men to neighboring Malaysia. Although the Indonesian government has, in recent years, taken a more proactive stance in regulating male outmigration, it has long collaborated with private human resources companies to discipline women domestics for the benefit of foreign employers and governments by subjecting the former to months of mental and occupational training prior to overseas departure, culminating in the Professional Competence Examination (Ujian Kompetensi). Based on four months of ethnographic observation at two licensed private job training centers and two government-organized orientations for contract migrants in East Java, Indonesia, my research will elucidate the institutional mechanisms by which Indonesian migrant domestics’ malleability is actively produced. By analyzing the control and training of care workers in sending communities, I will demonstrate why it is inadequate to focus solely on the role of host state organizations in racializing migrant domestics of a certain nationality as “unintelligent, industrious, and subservient.” And by analyzing public-private partnership in migration management as practiced by a rising labor-exporting country like Indonesia, I will provide a tentative explanation as to why Indonesian women migrants, who number more than two million, have now dominated the domestic care services markets of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia, and are a major presence in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and other Middle Eastern countries.

Legal Innocence and Ethnographic Culpability: Asian American Feminist Critique of Immigration Law as Criminal Enforcement
Lee Ann S. Wang, School of Law

In the early 2000s, a series of new immigration visas gave legal meaning to the formation of state protection by providing temporary legal status to undocumented immigrant women who were survivors of gender and sexual violence. By design however, these visas were available only if applicants agreed to “cooperate” in partnerships that assisted the betterment of law enforcement. My talk will discuss the relationship between legal protection and legal punishment, focusing on the role immigration has played in the larger history of troubled laws designed to rescue the subject of the feminine through increased policing and the expansion of institutions of criminalization. In particular, the legal discourse of “cooperation” that abstracts coercion from the letter of law and the lived conditions of immigrant women’s lives. Drawing from the interpretations of legal advocates working with women from Asian immigrant communities, I examine state sponsored “solutions” to violence that reproduce neoliberal agendas of the criminalization of blackness, securitization of borders. I argue, the law only protects immigrant women by inventing them into new legal subjects who enter the body of the civil and become “willing” to better the police state. How have these terms upon which women become eligible for protection come to be? What has this meant for the kinds of work legal advocates must grapple with in the relationships they build to further anti-violence and immigrant rights strategies in Asian immigrant communities? The racial assemblages of a legal trajectory of U.S. immigration law towards criminal enforcement cannot be fully understood without examining the paradox of protection. The talk is part of my larger ethnographic manuscript, Of Law’s Protection and Punishment: Enforced Safety in a Securitized State, engaging the interpretations of legal advocates working with women from Asian immigrant communities.


Flyer for 10-8-2015 CRG Forum

Fresh Faithfuls: Transnational American Christianity and the Politics of Race Sexuality

10.08.2015| 4:00 – 5:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall 

New Visions, New Burdens: The Global Politics of Asian American Transnational Evangelicalism
Rachel Lim, Ethnic Studies

This paper utilizes the 2010 documentary film 1040: Christianity in the New Asia as a lens into the politics of transnational Asian American evangelicalism that seeks to influence formulations of the Pacific Rim as a new site of possibility within the 21st century global political economy. I argue that the film’s discursive imagination leverages American anxieties and hopes surrounding the economic, moral, and political ascendancy of Asia and the perceived decline of the West. 1040 attempts to renegotiate the social positionality of Asian Americans by positing them as the new moral majority—friendly, cosmopolitan bodies that can assure the continued influence of the U.S. in Asia. While the “foreign” element endemic to the construction of Asian America once served as a serious liability—most paradigmatically with the Japanese internment during World War II—the film uses foreignness to explain Asian Americans’ success and continued importance.

However, the film also taps into anxieties over faltering U.S. state power that are deeply imbricated within U.S. evangelicalism, as religious scholars, church leaders, and media pundits have both heralded and feared the rise of “Global South” over the past twenty years. Furthermore, this “foreignness” also teeters dangerously toward earlier constructions of the “yellow peril,” which is why the film must end with another Orient onto which to project American angst. I thus conclude my presentation with a discussion of the film’s treatment of the 2007 South Korean hostage crisis in Afghanistan, where 23 missionaries were kidnapped and held hostage for six weeks. In order to argue that a certain subset group—namely upwardly mobile East Asians—should be considered “civilized,” 1040 pushes the project of Orientalism from the Far East to the Middle East. The film invites its American audience to see “uncivilized” nations such as Afghanistan as a particular burden for Asian Christians to bear. By charting these ideological shifts through the lens of 1040, I hope to describe the confluence of Christian ideology and economic expediency that produces a transnational Asian American identity, and thereby trouble the “naturalized” relationship between Asian American bodies and the future economic, moral, and social possibilities of the Pacific Rim.

The Dexterity of Homophobia: American Evangelicals and Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act
Darren Arquero, Ethnic Studies

Results from the 2012 Election Day marked a historic moment for LGBT individuals in the United States: outcomes from this election cycle saw, for the first time, the passage of same-sex marriage in three states by popular vote. At the same time mainstream U.S. media inundated the American public with celebratory stories and images of LGBT Americans, however, November 6 marked a different occasion for gay rights advocates in Uganda. According to a Ugandan-based newspaper, Member of Parliament David Bahati advised parents in the capital city to watch their children, warning that close to 40 companies were recruiting minors in the gay business. Ironically, Bahati’s remarks were soon followed by a November 12 statement that announced the re-tabling of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), notoriously known as the “Kill the Gays” Bill, which Bahati himself first introduced in 2009. As stated by a small minority of gay rights activists in the East African country, “A vitriolic homophobia is rising in Ugandan society, pointing to the meteoric rise of the U.S. evangelical church as a driving force.”[1] However, it is imperative to note that while journalistic accounts regarding Uganda’s AHA commonly attribute the growing backlash against LGBT Africans to a deliberate export of the United States’ own culture wars by far-right Christian groups, attempts to diffuse ideas internationally necessitate the involvement of local actors in target countries. In what follows thus, I explore the narratives present among journalists and commentators who commonly claim that American Christian groups are responsible for exporting U.S.-style culture wars to the African continent. These accounts tend to assume, at least implicitly, that Northern conservatives are manipulating Southern communities for their own ends. While it is undisputed that the linkages among Christian groups in the global North and South has and continues to grow, this argument tends to downplay the agency of Ugandan political elites and subalterns alike, who have their own political, social, and moral concerns regarding the cultural “unintelligibility” of homosexuality.

This paper will explore Uganda’s religious climate surrounding the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Bill. My main contention is to demonstrate how the connection of salvation and sanctity to a certain moral and political order in Uganda reveals itself through the discourses surrounding the AHA, replete with postcolonial sentiments of Ugandan elites that target queer Ugandans as a threat, “the enemy from within,” to the state’s political legitimacy. I hope to explain how citizenship in Uganda is premised in heterosexual terms and how the bodies of lesbian and gay Ugandans are made visible to bear the brunt of the charge of undermining national sovereignty. This argument may come as no surprise, as homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda—a remnant of British rule in the country—with punishment of imprisonment for up to 14 years. However, by also analyzing various newspaper articles documenting the ways in which Ugandan politicians and religious leaders justify anti-gay sentiments through appeals to religious language and imagery, I will track a key historical shift occurring in the early 2000s that demonstrates how a politics of morality, oftentimes narrated through heterosexist theological discourse, constitute LGBT sexualities as threats to public morality, African values, national integrity, and sovereignty.

Jocelyn Edwards, “Uganda Anti-Gay Bill Draws Church, Donor Battle Lines,” Thomson Reuters, last modified June 29, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/29/us-uganda-gays-idUSBRE85ROXR20….


Flyer for 9-24-2015 CRG Forum

A Shadow over Palestine: The Imperial Life of Race in America

09.24.2015| 4:00 – 5:30 PM |  370 Dwinelle Hall

Prof. Keith Feldman, Ethnic Studies

Commentary: Prof. Judith Butler, Comparative Literature Program in Critical Theory
A Shadow over Palestine brings a new, deeply informed, and transnational perspective to the cultural forces that have shaped sharply differing ideas of Israel’s standing with the United States—right up to the violent divisions of today. Focusing on the period from 1960 to 1985, author Keith P. Feldman reveals the centrality of Israel and Palestine in postwar U.S. imperial culture. In this CRG Thursday Forum, Prof. Feldman will discuss the themes explored in this volume and Prof. Judith Butler will provide reflective commentary.

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Flyer for 9-17-2015 CRG Forum

Revolution, Poetry, & Faith: Reflections on the Life of Rev. Pauli Murray

09.17.2015 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM |  691 Barrows Hall

Racial Justice & the Unconventional Activist
Jayme Goodwin, UC Berkeley Alum

Rev. Pauli Murray: Revisiting her Connections with Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhism, and Civil Rights
Dr. Purushottama Bilimoria, Institute for South Asia Studies

I will revisit the intriguing story of Rev. Pauli Murray, known also as ‘North Carolina’s Daughter’. Pauli, as I shall refer to her, was a great granddaughter of an enslaved woman who was raped, and at 28 was instrumental in launching a one-woman war against segregation at the University of North Carolina in late 1938 to get an M A in social work, despite being told by the chair of the department that the ‘time was not right’. A mandate for equal institutions enabling black graduate admissions was there in Plessy vs Ferguson since 1896, but this Supreme Court ruling had been so universally defied that its verdict had all but been forgotten. But not in the mind of Murray; she used all the force of her soul to challenge the obverse archaic practice, especially in a liberal southern sacred cow. While the NAACP was constrained itself from moving too fast in this challenge, especially in the movement’s litigation experience and power, Pauli was not to be deterred; she, as we say in the vernacular, ploughed right into the system. She had already been scarred and hardened by her experiences with Durham’s bus segregation practices which she had protested against. She protested against Jim Crow’s repression of her body, and chose to be a homosexual against prevailing norms. She worked with women’s worker camp which brought her in close contact with communist workers’ movements, and became a member of an alternative Communist Party while growing up and working her way through Hunter College in New York. Drawn back to Durham where a group of blacks were already contemplating testing UNC’s desegregation policy, she was more bold and drew parallels between the unconstitutional American educational system – that segregated Blacks – and the persecution of Jews that was afoot in Nazi Germany! Eleanor Roosevelt for her part never forgot her experience of India and the few lessons the Indians, wearied by a dreadful colonial past, had imparted to her by their own forthrightness. Her sympathy for Pauli Murray’s more engaged and activist approach that was as much informed by her communist predilections as by the Gandhian nonviolent method grew after her Indian exposure, and she could fully embrace the saintlike persona of Martin Luther King Jr not only because he symbolized the centurylong struggle postslavery for Black liberation, but also because he bore all the hallmarks of a Gandhian prophet being raised on the American soil. Could Pauli Murray then be called a Gay Gandhian Saint?