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PhD Alumni Profiles

2015

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2007

 
 

2015

Max Hantel

Bio

Max Hantel's research intertwines feminist and Afro-Caribbean philosophy to explore alternative political and ecological imaginaries of humanism. His dissertation, "Revolutionary Humanism and Geographies of Survival in Afro-Caribbean and Feminist Thought,” traces a distinct materialist tradition borne of the Caribbean's history as a site of both intense violence and creolization, often mobilized around the distinction between different kinds of humanity and between humans and nonhumans. He looks especially to sites where who counts symbolically is a matter of life and death and the environment impinges on the supposed sovereignty of the human: "natural disaster" zones like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina or the Mississippi flood of 1927. Finally, he addresses the increasing importance of the discourse of the "Anthropocene," the idea that humanity is not longer just a biological agent but a geological agent. Broadening out from the Caribbean, he argues that thinkers from the Global South have continually developed survival tactics in the face of these dangerous interpenetrations of colonial power, economic exploitation and environmental destruction (conditions faced throughout the world since at least the fifteenth-century) and generated new ways of making livable worlds. 

Job Placement History

2015-2017 GRID Postdoctoral Fellow, Gender Research Institute, Darthmouth College

Faculty/Webpage

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~grid/people/posdoc_hantel.html

Dissertation Information

Title

Revolutionary Humanism and Geographies of Survival in Afro-Caribbean and Feminist Thought

2014

Harnida Adda

Bio

Harnida Adda received a B.A. in Economics with a specialization in Human Resource Management from Tadulako University, Indonesia in 1999. She also received an MA in Women’s Studies from Flinders University, Australia in 2004. Her passion for women in managerial positions has inspired her to write an MA thesis entitled "A Question of Style: Gender and Management in Asian Countries," which enabled her to explore the issue of leadership styles of women executives in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, and Indonesia.

She started her PhD in Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers in 2008 with a Fulbright Scholarship and completed the program in 2014. She is now back in her home country of Indonesia getting back to routine as a lecturer at her alma mater, Universitas Tadulako, Palu, Central Sulawesi. Apart from teaching, she also speaks locally on topics related to human resources management. She plans to undertake collaborative research with local governmental and non-governmental institutions centering on the topic of the development and sustainability of women's economic activities through home-based industries as a potential strategy for enhancing women's participation in both domestic and public spaces. She will also revise her dissertation into a book and some articles for publication in national and international journals. Last but not least, she is looking forward to undertaking post-doctorate opportunities.

Job Placement History

Lecturer, Universitas Tadulako, Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia

Dissertation Information

Title

Rural Home-based Self-Employment: Evidence from Central Sulawesi, Indonesia

Committee

Y. Rodgers, E. Brooks, R. Balakrishnan, D. Goldstein

Abstract

This study explores how women in Central Sulawesi of Indonesia experience power and value transformations through self-employment. Based on the subjective experience of female fried onion producers and sarong weavers, this study suggests that the integration of women into home-based industries generate benefits beyond economic survival. Self-employment has led women’s work to be recognized as “real work” and it has increased women’s personal capabilities. This change has led self-employed women to position themselves as partners of their husbands, as their voices have become more acknowledged at work and in the home. This study indicates the existence of a new dimension of rural women, as they have become agents of social change by participating in micro self-employment. These women have developed self-awareness of their personal resources and have attempted to create a new role for themselves by challenging and transforming the patriarchal structure of their households. Through their initiative and commitment to developing their income-earning capacities, these women have gained more respect and authority that enable them to participate more outspokenly in their families’ affairs due to the improved power relations between their husbands and themselves. Through conducting in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and participant observations, this study shows that the contributions of rural women through home-based self-employment goes beyond the individual and her family; owners provide job opportunities for other women, and the choice of producing fried onions and weaving sarongs helps to preserve the specialties of the local culture. Rural women’s contribution through self-employment is valued beyond the material entity that these women bring in to their households. They have made the commitment to endure the risks of small-scale home-based micro-businesses as a way to diversify their family’s source of income. They have thereby increased their visibility in their own homes and in society. By embracing their strengths through self-employment, rural women have been able to overcome the power barriers that used to impede their advancement in economic and social lives. By using the cultural influences as one of motivations to engage in ‘non-traditional’ work, these women are continuing to improve their capabilities in the face of persistent challenges.

 

Ashley Falzetti

Bio

Ashley received an M.A. in Women's and Gender Studies from Rutgers University in 2009 and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in 2006. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Women's and Gender Studies at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. She is currently researching two new chapters for her book manuscript "Belonging in Myaamionki" on Miami Indian experiences of settler colonialism in the Lower Great Lakes. An article that draws from this research, "Archival Absence: the burdens of history," was recently published in Settler Colonial Studies (Winter 2015.) She teaches courses on interdisciplinary feminist methodologies, the co-constructions of race, gender, and nation, as well as the heteropatriarchy of colonialisms.  

Job Placement History

Assistant Professor, Eastern Michigan University – Ypsilanti (2014)

Faculty/Webpage

http://www.emich.edu/wgstudies/faculty/falzetti/untitled.php

Dissertation Information

Title

Settler Histories of Place: Frances Slocum and Miami Dispossession

Committee

N.Hewitt, K. Schuller, A. Isaac, Y. Martinez San Migual

Abstract

Frances Slocum has become the most famous Miami Indian woman in history, which is surprising because she was born to a white Quaker family. This project traces the formation of her captivity narrative as she is transformed into a figure of local history in two distinct places: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where she was captured and Peru, Indiana where she lived and was buried. Settler Histories of Place examines the periods in which her narrative gains popularity and finds that her story circulates most widely at moments when there are broader movements to take control of Miami Indian lands in Indiana. How storytellers describe her racial identity shapes how she is imagined as a historical figure of settler and native history. What details are included or omitted shapes how the violence of settling the United States is imagined. Narratives about Frances Slocum are used in two particular regions as key historical stories of place. These stories use racial descriptions to naturalize a settler sense of belonging, normalizing settler claims to land inhabited by the Miami. Accounting for Miami perspectives of Frances Slocum disrupts settler narratives of Miami absence and reveals the cultural logics of public history in a settler-context.

 

Laura Lovin

Bio

Laura Lovin received a B.A. in Special Education in 1997 and a B.A. in Sociology in 2000 from the University of Bucharest, Romania. She also received an M.A. degree in Cultural Studies from University of Bucharest in 2000 and an M.A. in Gender Studies from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary in 2003.

After completing her PhD in 2014, she received a two-year Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship from the European Commission. Her research project is "The Race, Class and Gender of Transnational Urban Labour: Romanian Workers in the Cities of London and NYC,” and her collaborating institution is the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research at London South Bank University.

Job Placement History

Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, European Commission (2015-2017)

Dissertation Information

Title

Women’s Labor in the Global City: Representations of Transnational Subjects and Spaces in Contemporary Visual Geographies

Committee

J. Regulska, H. Davidson, M. Hawkesworth, E. Grosz

Abstract

This dissertation explores depictions of working women in three transnational urban spaces, Sibiu (Romania), Berlin (Germany) and Newark (New Jersey, USA). In the aftermath of the cold war and in the midst of globalization, these cities represent marked sites in the geopolitical axes of "west"/"east." Each city has grappled with labor restructuring, the upward redistribution of wealth, urban dilapidation, and segregation. Each city has also deployed a commodified version of multiculturalism to foster tourism, corporate development, and diverse strategies for reinvestment and revitalization. Within these contexts, I looked for contemporary art projects that render topical phenomena such transnational work migration, changing labor practices, new modes of livelihood, and new gendered, racialized and classed identities. This dissertation relies on data and representational materials collected through extensive multi-location field research in Sibiu, Berlin and Newark. The case study on Sibiu foregrounds working women of three different ethnicities, Romanian, Romani and Saxon, and traces their articulation in relation to practices of transnational work migration. The case study on Berlin continues the engagement with transnational migrant workers. The theme of sexuality constitutes its core analytical dimension, as representations of voluntary and coerced sex work take the center stage of the visual arts projects encountered in Berlin. Finally, in the case of Newark, an U.S. city where work disappeared with the transnationalization of industrial production, the theme of racial neoliberal subject formation informs the analysis of the documentary representation of a young woman's work as a community activist. Interrogating concepts of urbanity, representation, and affect, this research also identifies limitations of recent accounts of affective theories, methodologies and politics, arguing that while taking the affective turn in humanities and social science, researchers should continue to supplement their readings, viewing, and theorizations with contextualized examinations of informed by political economy and inquiries into the meaning making practices of situated subjects.

 

Andrew Mazzaschi

Bio

Andrew Mazzaschi received a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Literary and Cultural Studies from the College of William and Mary in 2003. After completing his PhD in 2014, he continued in his role of Deputy Editor at Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society as the journal makes the transition from Rutgers to Northeastern University in Boston.

Job Placement History

Deputy Editor, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society

Dissertation Information

Title

Bodies of Value: Transnational Discourses and Practices of Plastic Surgery

Committee

E. Cohen, J. Puar, J. Livingston, A. Aizura

Abstract

Proceeding through case studies of actors involved in transnational instantiations of plastic surgery practice or discourse, this dissertation demonstrates that a transnational lens illuminates new dimensions of plastic surgery’s history and its contemporary manifestations. Examining plastic surgeons’ development efforts after WWII, the transnational charity Operation Smile, and cosmetic surgery tourism to Johannesburg, South Africa, the dissertation examine how surgeons’ and patients’ involvement in transnational work affects their understandings race, gender, and health. I argue that, in all three cases, the demarcation between reconstructive and cosmetic surgery is racialized: On the one hand, cosmetic patients understood as paradigmatically white and from the “developed world,” enacting forms of self-investment through medical markets. On the other hand, recipients of reconstructive surgery, associated with particular geographical areas and racialized as nonwhite, are understood as objects of external investment. I show that the concept of race operative in transnational surgical contexts is not, first and foremost, an anatomical one; rather surgeons produce a nonbiological but still embodied conception of race that is linked to cultural and economic difference. Finally, I show that plastic surgery’s expansive conception of health—incorporating bodily, psychic, and social dimensions—is precisely what allows it to engage in the forms of racialization I describe and what enables the specialty to incorporate itself into a variety of economic rationalities.

 

Bahia Munem

Bio

Bahia Munem received an M.S. in Communication from New Jersey Institute of Technology and holds an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers. She was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies for her ethnographic project in 2010.

Job Placement History

Lecturer, Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers Unviersity

Dissertation Information

Title

Expulsions and Exceptions: Palestinian Women Refugees and the Politics of Belonging in the Brazilian Nation State

Committee

N. Hewitt, E. Brooks, J. Puar, A. Ramos-Zayas

Abstract

This dissertation examines the resettlement of a group of Palestinian Iraq War refugees in Brazil. In 2007, Latin America's largest democracy and self-proclaimed racial democracy made what it claimed was a humanitarian overture by resettling 108 Palestinian refugees displaced from Baghdad as a result of the Iraq War. The majority of them had escaped from Baghdad in 2003 and had been living for nearly five years in a makeshift refugee camp on the border of Jordan and Iraq. Utilizing a multi-method approach, this work examines how Brazil, with its long history of Arab migration, incorporates this specific re-diasporized group into the folds of its much-touted racial democracy, an important arm of Brazilian exceptionalism. In order to address the particularity of Palestinian refugees, and while considering pluralism discourses and other important socio-political dynamics, I engage and extend Edward Said’s framework of Orientalism by analyzing its machinations in Brazil. To closely assess the particularity of the resettled Palestinian refugees (but also Arabs more generally), I consider how already stereotyped Brazilians construct Palestinians in Brazil through an Orientalist lens. This Orientalism, I argue, is a product of a Neo-Orientalist glaze. This formulation takes into consideration the racialized and exoticized constructions of Brazilians in order to examine how these essentialist ideas are reconfigured and reproduced to “Orientalize” other others. In examining the near and distant history of this group, interrogating labor histories and contemporary labor practices, dissecting their incorporation into Brazilian public policies, and interrogating discourses of cultural misrecognitions and problematic Palestinian cultural constructions, I have made significant theoretical interventions and highlighted distinct ways in which members of a minority community are de-subjectified and re-subjectified in the Brazilian context. Moreover, this analysis provides insight into the Brazilian nation-state and the scope and scale of its neoliberal form of statecraft. Considered together, my dissertation engages and traverses a wide range of literatures, crosses disciplinary boundaries, and contributes to multiple fields of study. At the same time, it illuminates in fine detail the daily lives of a group of refugees whose experiences can help us re-imagine the lives of multiply-displaced persons in other times and places.

 

Eunsung Lee

Bio

Eunsung Lee received a B.A. in English Literature from Dongguk Univeristy, South Korea, and M.A. degrees in English Literature from University of Northern Iowa and Women’s Studies from San Diego State University.

Dissertation Information

Title

Politics of Cultural Proximity: Transnational Marriage and Family Making Among Vietnamese Women and Women and South Korean Men in the 21st Century

Committee

M. Hawkesworth, L. Schein, H. Davidson, M. Gossy

Abstract

This dissertation examines how the idea of cultural proximity is constructed in commercialized marriage and transnational family making among Vietnamese women and South Korean men. Based on ethnographic work in Vietnam and South Korea, my dissertation theorizes cultural proximity in the context of regionalization among Asia-Pacific countries, ethnic identity formation, and social stratification in South Korea. The dissertation argues that the construction of cultural proximity involves disciplinary politics. I explore how the politics of cultural proximity is embedded in Korea’s multicultural policies that aim to socially and culturally assimilate migrant women and children of transnational families. In addition, I analyze the everyday politics of cultural proximity articulated by Koreans who are involved in brokered marriages, cultural assimilation programs, and transnational family making. This study highlights the new transnational formations of social, ideological, economic, and interpersonal relations in South Korea where Vietnamese wives negotiate patriarchal gender roles, ethnic identity, and social stratification. The study extends the theory of cultural proximity to assess the multifaceted regionalization processes in the Asia-Pacific region. It contributes to the study of race and ethnicity in the region by examining immigration, multicultural policies, and cultural assimilation programs in South Korea that are based on the hierarchy of Korean and non-Korean identities. In addition, the study sheds new light on masculinity studies by arguing for more nuanced understandings of Korean men who are involved in unconventional marriage and family making. My analysis of Vietnamese women’s rural-to-rural migration attests to the on-going gender scholarship that critiques women’s upward mobility via transnational marriage. My study confirms that Vietnamese women struggle to find ways to empower themselves in the host country. Lastly, my study of the role of international matchmaking agencies in Vietnamese women’s settlement processes suggests that both the South Korean and Vietnamese government ought to consider the promulgation and enforcement of laws related to matchmaking services that better protect the Vietnamese women.

 

2013

Yurika Tamura

Bio

Yurika Tamura completed her PhD in 2013. She has taught courses on feminist theory, Asian American studies, and Japanese literature and film. Yurika's research interests include critical race theory, body and sensations, music and performance, and affect. In her dissertation project she experiments on writings on music, corporeality, and sensation.

Job Placement History

East Asian Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship, Wei Fong Chao Center for Asian Studies, Rice University, Houston

Faculty/Webpage

https://chaocenter.rice.edu/Content.aspx?id=481

Dissertation Information

Title

Community of Non-Belonging, Bodies for Non-Philosophy: Interncultural Performance and a Sense of Coexistence

Committee

E. Grosz, A. Isaac, N. Rao, J. Murphy

Abstract

This dissertation studies music and stage performances led by contemporary Japanese minority groups, primarily Ainu activists, from three theoretical perspectives: 1. Politics of representation, 2. The body and materiality, and 3. Philosophy of difference. Each perspective informs each chapter’s study of the soundscape and performance produced in lieu of verbal political negotiation. Posed as a project in performance studies and critical race theory, the dissertation analyzes cultural and political contexts of each performance as well as affect of the impact of performance. By addressing political situations and history minority populations in Japan, and especially since most of the chapters address the issues of contemporary Ainu indigenous struggles, this project necessarily takes postcolonial and feminist approaches that criticize Japanese imperialism, colonialism, and ideological products of other disciplinary forms of nation-building, such as the social hierarchies based on race and gender. The performances introduced in this dissertation themselves, however, take remarkably positive approaches to conceiving differences of the bodies. Rather than reverting to traditional identity politics, their performance activism seeks a new way for the various bodies and sensations to occupy shared spaces. Thus by examining their inclusive politics that is marked by avoidance of political discussions and focus on the sound elements and music sensations to activate a space of coexistence, this dissertation explores how music and bodily sensations allow us to conceive new modes of coexistence by different bodies of people. Another question this dissertation pursues is how to conceive materiality of the body while many gender and cultural studies have studied the body as signs and symbols of identity, and not a corporeal substance. By aligning with the recent theoretical movement that focuses on the material body, this dissertation engages in theorization of the body that leverages innovative conceptualizations of living with others. Finally, the dissertation proposes the concept of “Transnational Indigeneity,” an indigenous theorization that locates indigeneity outside and beyond national and racial borders and critiques such imperial exclusions and markings of bodies and the earth. The dissertation describes how transnational indigeneity is materialized in the new Ainu collaborative music scenes through the sound and sensations.

 

Jillian Hernandez

Bio

Jillian received her PhD in Women's and Gender Studies in May 2013. She was awarded a Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association of University Women for her research: “The Politics of Sexual Aesthetics: Women and Girls Crafting Bodies.” Jillian's research projects focus on contemporary art, sexualities, and girls’ studies. She was formerly Curatorial Associate at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami where she created the nationally acclaimed “Women on the Rise!” outreach program for teen girls. She has organized several exhibitions of contemporary art and published essays in her areas of interest.

Job Placement History

Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies and Critical Gender Studies, University of California – San Diego

Faculty/Webpage

http://www.ethnicstudies.ucsd.edu/faculty/hernandez.html

Dissertation Information

Title

The Politics of Sexual Aesthetics: Women and Girls Crafting Bodies

Committee

L. Schein, C. Decena, A. Stein, S. Sidlauskas, A. Cheng

Abstract

The Power of Sexual Aesthetics: Women and Girls Crafting Bodies examines how people of color respond creatively to being framed as sexually deviant through normative assessments of their corporeal styles in the U.S. This work comprises a comparative study of how aesthetics shape the racialization of African American, Latina, and black, non-Latina Caribbean immigrant women and girls. The dissertation constructs its argument by juxtaposing the body crafting practices of heterosexual and LBTQ young women of color I have worked with through community arts outreach, with contemporary women artists of color whose work portrays explicitly raced and sexualized bodies. Employing a multi-method approach, the study combines focus groups with young women, interviews with artists, reception study, and visual analysis of music videos, YouTube media, photographs, collages, and paintings, to fashion a transdisciplinary synthesis. Bridging Art History, Gender, Sexuality, African American, Latino/a, Critical Race, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies, the dissertation traces the circulation of raced female bodies in the visual fields of popular culture, fine art, and everyday social spaces, domains in which norms of body presentation and representation are both crystallized and challenged. Case studies of “chonga” girls, masculine body presenting young women, and contemporary cultural producers elaborate the modes through which racialized corporeal aesthetics are valued. This project highlights a double standard: vernacular images and embodiments of sexuality fashioned by disadvantaged girls more often draw negative critiques and cultural devaluation in social discourse when compared to more professional pictures and bodies lauded as “edgy” and “innovative” for their sexual content in the elite art world, popular culture, and media. The Power of Sexual Aesthetics analyzes how body crafting practices may work to both reveal and occult class disparity in a contemporary neoliberal context. The power of neoliberal discourse lies in its obfuscation of class exclusions and structures, and effective circulation of narratives concerning the putative potential of self-making and overcoming economic circumstances. This dissertation argues that the dissident aesthetics of poor and working class women and girls of color have the potential to unmask realities of class stratification, hence their disciplining as racially, sexually, and aesthetically excessive.

 

Debotri Dhar

Bio

Debotri received a B.A. with Honors from the University of Delhi, India and an M.A. with distinction in Women’s Studies from University of Oxford, UK. Debotri's numerous publications include an edited volume, Education and Gender (London/New York: Bloomsbury, 2014); book chapters such as 'Mad Adulteress, Moral Wife: Sex, Sin and Psychiatry in Aparna Sen's Parama,' in Nawale, Vashist and Roy eds. Portrayal of Women in Media and Literature (New Delhi: Authorspress, 2013); and journal articles such as 'Radha's Revenge; Feminist Agency, Postcoloniality and the Politics of Desire in Anita Nair's Mistress,' Postcolonial Text, Vol 7, No 4 (2012). She has presented conference papers at venues such as Yale University, Princeton University, Bonn University, and Rutgers University, and has also delivered several public talks. Her awards and honors include an Excellence Fellowship; a South Asian Studies research award; an Institute for Research on Women Fellowship; and a Distinction in Women's Studies.

Job Placement History

  • Visiting Professor in Women’s Studies at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2015-16)
  • Visiting Assistant Professor in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the College of Wooster, Ohio (2014-2015)
  • Postdoctoral Visiting Scholar in the Women's, Gender and Sexuality Program at Boston University (2013-2014)

Dissertation Information

Title

Between Samskaras and Adhikaras: Rape, Suicide and the State in Contemporary India

Committee

C. Bunch, J.Diamond, D. Hodgson, J. Quinn

Abstract

This dissertation examines the relationship between suicide, the state and women’s right against rape in contemporary India. By situating raped women’s suicide within the complex conversation between the Hindu nation’s gendered notion of samskaras on one hand and the modern Indian state’s narrative of equal rights or adhikaras on the other, the dissertation examines why raped female citizen-subjects threaten or commit suicide, and the state’s response(s) to such suicides in light of women’s legal right against rape. In this respect, the dissertation is particularly attentive to the unfortunate agency of raped women who use public suicide in order to claim their right against rape from the postcolonial Indian state. Contemporary scholarship on women’s suicide in India has primarily been framed within a clinical-psychological framework, while women’s right against rape in/and the Indian state has been theorized predominantly within feminist legal paradigms. While some work does engage the political-cultural aspect of women’s suicide, raped women’s suicide and its relationship to rights and the state remains an un-theorized area of inquiry. This study of rape victims’ suicide thus brings within a single analytical frame two questions - women’s right against rape in/and the state; and women’s suicide – that, till now, have been studied separately. Arguing that suicide as a complex, embodied form of agency exercised by raped female citizen-subjects colludes with, as well as contests, the collective identities of gender, class, caste, religion, the ‘local’ and the ‘national,’ and evokes equally complex responses from the postcolonial state, the dissertation offers new and challenging insights on women’s rights, culture and the state. The dissertation is interdisciplinary, and draws from a range of theoretical perspectives including feminist political theory, postcolonial theory, cultural theory, psychology and Indian Studies in order to offer a complex, layered understanding of raped women’s suicide and the state. Methodologically, the dissertation combines the empirical and the interpretive, juxtaposing National Crime Records Bureau data on rape and suicide along with textual analyses of a range of relevant texts including religious treatises, historical accounts, political materials, judicial judgments, mental health professionals’ narratives, and news reports.

 

Cynthia Gorman

Bio

Cynthia Gorman received a B.A. in Political Science from Bates College and an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, Cynthia directed the Community Leadership Action and Service Project (CLASP) at the Institute for Women's Leadership, a program which she developed through her Master's practicum with the Institute.

After completing her PhD in 2013, Cynthia worked as an Instructor of Leadership Studies at West Virginia University. Her research focuses on the gender politics of nationalisms, the geopolitical context of human rights discourse, refugee-asylum law in the post-Cold War era, and the development of gender-based persecution jurisprudence in the United States. Other interests include community-based activism and feminist pedagogies.

Job Placement History

Assistant Professor of Geography and Women’s and Gender Studies, West Virginia University

Faculty Webpage

http://geography.wvu.edu/people/faculty/cynthia-gorman

Dissertation Information

Title

From Recognition to Regulation: Flood Fears, Gender Violence, and Asylum Law in the United States

Committee

J. Regulska, R. Rodriguez, C. Lee, C. Bunch

Abstract

Over the past twenty years, women’s human rights advocates have made significant gains in securing protection for women with gender-related claims of persecution within the United States. However, efforts to expand the legal rubric of refugee-asylum law to include gender-related forms of persecution have aroused controversy about inviting a flood of women from around the world fleeing gender violence. In this dissertation, I explore how fears of a flood of women asylum seekers have shaped the development of gender-based asylum jurisprudence in the United States. While it is envisioned as carrying out a humanitarian mandate, refugee asylum law continues to be embedded in and responsive to state efforts to systematically control the movement of populations across its territorial borders and to screen out asylum seekers deemed to threaten the composition of the nation. Through particular technologies of exclusion justified by flood fears, state actors undermined cases that could open pathways to citizenship for large numbers of migrants. Employing a methodology of feminist legal archeology combined with interviews of impact litigators, I demonstrate how efforts by feminist legal advocates to expand asylum protection to include gender-based persecution became entangled in efforts by state immigration officials and adjudicators to exclude particular women from protection. Thus despite the humanitarian commitments of refugee-asylum law and feminist legal advocates’ success in winning recognition of gender-based persecution, fears of an impending flood of refugees have resulted in exclusionary definitions of who can gain asylum on the basis of gender-based persecution.

 

2012

Anahi Russo Garrido

Bio

 

Job Placement History

  • Assistant Professor of Women's Studies, Metropolitan State University of Denver (2015)
  • Allen-Berenson Postdoctoral Fellowship in Women’s and Gender Studies, Brandeis University (2013-2015)

Faculty Webpage

http://www.brandeis.edu/facultyguide/person.html?emplid=b5a03b7549b72d63d84fcfca3e0d67ed35f3157a

Dissertation Information

Title

Rethinking Intimacy: Love, Friendship and Sexuality in Three Generations of Queer Women

Committee

C. Decena, B.Sifuentes, Y.Martinez, J. Puar,

Abstract

This dissertation investigates the transformation of intimacy in the lives of three generations of women participating in queer spaces in Mexico City, at a moment in which sexual citizenship is being redefined in Mexican society. More specifically, this research considers how the social organization, discourses and practices of intimacy have shifted for women participating in queer spaces in Mexico City since the 1960s. My study looks at how the emergence of these transcontinental debates intertwines with the new nationalist rhetoric that has proclaimed Mexico as a pluriethnic and multicultural (instead of mestizo) nation. After positioning these debates in processes of national identity and transnational dynamics, I explore through my ethnographic data, how gay and lesbian individuals in Mexico City have reconfigured their views on intimacy (i.e. love, friendship, sexuality) since the 1960s, and in particular in the midst of these changes on sexual citizenship. I focus particularly on women participating in queer spaces. I suggest that if we truly are to understand queer lives in Latin America, it is imperative to engage with discourses on intimacy produced through the State and other institutional actors and the ways in which these are experienced, rather than primarily centering our analysis on ontological questions as research on same-sex sexuality in Latin America and the Caribbean has continuously emphasized. My qualitative research is based on ethnographic fieldwork I conducted in Mexico City for 10 months in 2009-2010, including participant observation, 45 qualitative interviews and the review of newspapers of record. It is also influenced by seven intermittent years of everyday life in Mexico City since 1998 and a previous anthropological fieldwork research in 2000. Ultimately, my study contributes to the fields of the anthropology and sociology of intimacy, interdisciplinary studies on gender and sexuality in Latin America and notions of sexual citizenship, nationalism, space and place.

 

Catherine Sameh

Bio

In July 2010, Catherine Sameh was hired as Associate Director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women. She was responsible for the Center's media productions, including the well-respected webjournal Scholar & Feminist Online. She was also in charge of transnational collaborations with peer centers globally. Catherine's work at the Barnard Center for Research on Women drawed on her expertise on transnational feminism developed in her dissertation. In May 2014, Catherine accepted a tenure-track position in the Gender & Sexuality Studies Department at UC Irvine.

Job Placement History

  • Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of California – Irvine (2014-Present)
  • Associate Director, Barnard Center for Research on Women (2010-2014)

Faculty Webpage

http://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=6091

Dissertation Information

Title

Signatures, Rights, Networks: Iranian Feminism in the Transnational Sphere

Committee

E. Brooks, J. Puar, J. Regulska, O. Alidou

Abstract

My dissertation explores how Iranian feminists are mobilizing new discourses and creating dynamic transnational networks, enabled in part by cyber and print cultures. I investigate the ways in which Iranian feminist praxis consequently disrupts and reframes the putative opposition between secularism and Islam, and the multiple binaries assembled through this opposition—democratic versus authoritarian; liberatory versus oppressive; egalitarian versus patriarchal; and modern versus backwards. Within a multimethodological and interdisciplinary framework, I examine three sites of Iranian feminist activism. I consider the One Million Signatures Campaign, a grassroots feminist movement that emerged in Iran in 2006, which utilizes Islamic human rights discourses and grassroots, democratic practices to engage the state in reforming family law. I also investigate the transnational network structure of the campaign, reflecting on the particular praxis offered by campaigners in the Iranian diaspora. Finally, I examine the writings and reception of Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. As a Muslim, feminist and human rights activist, Ebadi emphasizes the compatibility of Islam with human rights, thereby disrupting discourses that counterpoise them. Considered together, these three sites of Iranian feminism destabilize Western hegemony over Iran, consolidated through discourses which pit “superior” liberal democracies over “backward” Islamic nations. This oppositional staging gains purchase through geopolitical relations of power, including some iterations of global feminism, which deploy neocolonial saving and rescue narratives in the name of women’s human rights. Concomitantly, transnational feminist theory, which has destabilized the normative authority of Western hegemony and global feminism, can also often reify the very power relations it seeks to critique. By emphasizing the dangers, limits, and dilemmas of transnational feminist work, transnational feminist theory can neglect critical feminist projects on the ground, effectively writing some women out of history. My dissertation considers how Iranian feminists in Iran and the diaspora challenge these various modes of epistemic silencing. Through a close examination of the praxis of Iranian feminists, reflected primarily through the narratives of the activists themselves, my dissertation contributes to feminist theories of agency and helps revitalize transnational feminist studies.

 

2011

Ariella Rotramel

Bio

Ariella received a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2003 and completed her PhD in Fall 2011. She accepted the position of Visiting Assistant Professor in Gender and Women's Studies at Connecticut College. While at Rutgers, she studied women-led community organizing efforts by New York’s Mothers on the Move and CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities. Ariella taught undergraduate courses in women's and gender studies and social justice.

Job Placement History

  • Vandana Shiva Assistant Professor, Department of Women's and Gender Studies, Connecticut College
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Connecticut College

Faculty Webpage

https://www.conncoll.edu/directories/faculty-profiles/ariella-rotramel/

Dissertation Information

Title

Pushing Back: Women-Led Grassroots Activism in New York City’s Transnational Communities of Color, 1986-2011

Committee

N.Hewitt (Chair), B.Balliet, J.Gerson, R. Rodriguez, J. D’Emilio

Abstract

“Pushing Back” analyzes women-led activism of transnational communities of color through an examination of social justice campaigns around domestic work, housing, and environmental policies and practices. Through a case study of New York City from the 1980s to the present (2011), the dissertation argues that one key to progressive women’s successful organizing efforts is their ability to draw upon a range of political stances and to cross traditional identity-based boundaries. This study addresses three central questions: Which issues do organizations representing transnational communities of color identify as key to their communities and how do they frame them? What forms of advocacy do they wield and what do such approaches look like in practice? and How do they negotiate internal diversity (gender, race/nationality, class, etc.) and engage the broader community, particularly as women-led groups? The study focuses on two grassroots organizations, the pan-Asian/American CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities and the South Bronx’s largely Puerto Rican and Black Mothers on the Move/Madres en Movimiento. A complex picture of activism is produced through original archival research in previously unprocessed papers at each organization, oral history interviews, participant-observation, and the evaluation of relevant governmental and media sources.

 

Sonja Thomas

Bio

Sonja Thomas completed her Ph.D. in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers in May 2011. Her dissertation, “From Chattas to Churidars: Syrian Christian Religious Minorities in a Secular Indian State,” examined the larger questions of how socially constructed differences between women shape their capacity to create feminist networks and to act towards social change. Her research specifically analyzed the Syrian Christian community of Kerala, India and the intersectional social identities of the religious community; a Christian religious minority identity, an Aryan racial identity, and a high-caste Brahmin identity. From the chatta, a clothing worn in pre-independence India by Syrian Christian women alone, to the churidar worn today by women of all castes, races and religions, her dissertation attempted to understand the complex histories and differences between South Asian peoples.   Sonja accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position at Colby College.

Job Placement History

Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Colby College

Faculty/Webpage

http://www.colby.edu/directory/profile/sonja.thomas/

Dissertation Information

Title

From Chattas to Churidars: Syrian Christian Religious Minorities in a Secular Indian State

Committee

E. Brooks, J. Puar, E. Grosz, P. Kurien

Abstract

This dissertation is a critical analysis of the feminist concept of intersectionality and a necessary contribution into the study of caste, class, race, religion and gender in South Asia. Rather than viewing identities as merely overlapping, I argue that there exist countless “acts” that implicate the co-constitutive, relational, and fluid nature of identities. Particularly focusing on the upper-caste Syrian Christian community in postcolonial Kerala, India, I examine “acts” in the form of embodied clothing practices, women’s mobility in public spaces and political protests. My dissertation especially intervenes into dominant discourses within South Asian and Women’s and Gender Studies. I reassess of the concept of race in South Asia, provide a sustained ethnographic and historical analysis of the state of Kerala, India, and I place the fields of South Asian and Women’s and Gender Studies into critical dialogue with each other. To make these interventions, I use a variety of sources collected through interdisciplinary research methods. These methods include ethnography, archival methods, feminist and postcolonial theoretical analysis, and visual culture analysis. In the first and second chapters of the dissertation, I provide an overview of the dissertation, my field site and a history of the Syrian Christian community. In the third and fourth chapters I explore the relations between class, caste, race, religion and gender through an examination of the women’s (in)ability to move freely in a changing public sphere. Following this, in chapters five and six I analyze how Syrian Christians have used their social privileges to politically mobilize, define a nation-wide minority identity, and protect their dominance in Kerala’s private education sector. In the last chapter, I bridge Women’s and Gender Studies with South Asian Studies and examine each of the disciplines’ approach to studying differences between peoples in India. From the chatta, a clothing worn in colonial Kerala by Syrian Christian women alone, to the churidar worn today by women of all classes, castes, races and religions, I examine how “acts” of class, caste, race, religion and gender may continue previous divisions between groups, justifying forms of oppression and ultimately upholding systems of domination in India today.

 

Susana Matallana Pélaez

Bio:

Susana Matallana received an M.A. in English from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She completed her Ph.D. in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers in May 2011.

Job Placement History

Associate Professor, School of Language Sciences, Universidad del Valle, Santiago de Cali, Colombia

Faculty/Webpage

http://lenguaje.univalle.edu.co/index.php/escuela/personal-escuela/profesores/28-profesores-nombrados/72-susana-matallana

Dissertation Information

Title

Spotlight on the Indians: What Ysavel Agad might have told Captain (1535-1629) Ospina or the First One-Hundred Years After the Spanish conquest of the Alto Magdalena Region

Committee

T. Kaplan, N. Hewitt, C. Decena, C.Townsend, M. Francis

Abstract

This study traces the first one-hundred years after the Spanish conquest of the Alto Magdalena Region (1535-1629) in present-day Colombia. In doing so, it focuses primarily on the indigenous actors – male and female, local and non-local – who took part in one way or another in this enterprise. As such it is based on the analysis of twenty-two unpublished archival documents dating from 1540 through 1669. This study argues that Belalcázar‟s Yanacona (Inca) allies played a major role in the conquest and colonization of the Alto Magdalena region, and that Yanacona women were an important part of this expedition. It also argues that Belalcázar and his troops encountered local matrilineal societies (Yalcones, Panches, Coyaimas, Natagaimas, Pixaos) in which women held significant political power, and that a local female (Yalcón) leader by the name of Guatepán may have given rise to the legend of La Gaitana. With regards to the wars of resistance that took place between the second half of the sixteenth century through the beginning of the seventeenth century, it claims that local indigenous groups such as the Coyaimas and Natagaimas who sided with the Spanish were instrumental in defeating the Pixao Indians who were the principal leaders of the revolts. Along this line, it contends that the vicious and “fratricidal” wars between the Indians who sided with the Spanish and those who sided against them were a decisive factor for Spanish victory. In addition it purports to show that local indigenous shamans known as mohanes were in fact politico-religious leaders who were persecuted by Spanish authorities not for religious but for political reasons, and more specifically for their role as leaders of the resistance. Finally, it argues that the wars that ensued after the Spanish incursion destroyed the social networks on which so much of local women‟s power was based, and that as a result, local indigenous women lost much of their traditional power and status.

 

Stephanie Clare

Bio:

Stephanie Clare is an interdisciplinary scholar who works at the intersections of feminist and queer theory, settler colonial studies, and science studies. She has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Oxford, and Duke University in multiple departments: from English to Philosophy, from African and African American Studies to Women’s Studies. She is currently writing a book manuscript, Earthly Encounters. The book examines relations between subjectivity and territory, land and the earth in twentieth-century world literature and philosophy, focusing especially on Canada. Her work has appeared in Diacritics, GLQ, differences, and Hypatia.

Job Placement History

  • Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature (Feminist Theory), University of Buffalo (SUNY)
  • Humanities Faculty Fellow, Syracuse University (2014-2015)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Women’s Studies Program, Duke University (2013-2014)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender and Feminist Theory, University of Oxford (2011-2013)

Dissertation Information

Title

Earthly Encounters: Readings in Poststructuralism, Feminist Theory, and Canadian Settler Colonialism

Committee

E. Grosz, H. Davidson, C. Decena

Abstract

This dissertation draws out a point of resonance between Frantz Fanon’s and Luce Irigaray’ philosophies: Fanon and Irigaray demonstrate how the philosophy of difference– be it racial and/or sexual difference – and the philosophy of power relations – be it the analysis of patriarchy and/or colonialism – not only bring attention to racialized and gendered others, they also bring attention to land and the earth. In both authors’ works, abstract, homogenous empty space comes to the foreground, filled with the matter that constitutes it: earth, air, and land. The dissertation draws on Fanon’s and Irigaray’s treatment of space to reconsider central concepts that circulate in poststructuralist feminist thought: power, discourse, interiority, subjectivity, and sexuality. I read these concepts within the context of Canadian settler colonialism to foreground the politics of space. Most centrally, I argue that alongside the forms of power Michel Foucault analyzed at length exists another form of power, geopower, the force relations that transform the earth. I describe geopower through an analysis of the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Ultimately, “Earthly Encounters” contributes to feminist, antiracist thought by bringing attention not simply to sexual or racial difference but also to the material differences that make up our world: animal, plant, and mineral.

 

Agatha Beins

Bio:

Agatha Beins received a B.A. in Classical Languages from Carleton College, an M.A. in Women’s Studies from University of Arizona, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Poetry from Eastern Washington University. She completed her PhD in 2011, and accepted a tenure-track position at the Texas Woman's University. Agatha is a co-editor of the anthology Women's Studies for the Future. Her dissertation explored the production and consumption of U.S. feminist periodicals published in the 1970s.

Job Placement History

Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies, Texas Woman’s University

Faculty/Webpage

http://www.twu.edu/ws/beins.asp

Dissertation Information

Title

Free Our Sisters, Free Ourselves: Locating U.S. Feminism through Feminist Periodicals, 1970-1983

Committee

J. Regulska, H. Davidson, N. Hewitt

Abstract

In 1968 the first feminist periodicals associated with the second wave of U.S. feminism appeared in the United States, and by 1973 over five hundred different feminist newsletters, newspapers, and literary journals had been published. Although these periodicals often had erratic publication schedules and rarely ran more than a few years, their proliferation during this time period shows that publishing was vital to the women’s liberation movement. Not only did periodicals create a space for women to describe experiences, develop theories, debate politics, and exchange ideas, they also connected women through their circulation, producing an imagined community of feminists at local and global scales. Free Our Sisters, Free Ourselves: Locating U.S. Feminism through Feminist Periodicals, 1970-1983 examines the U.S. feminist movement through the production and consumption of feminist newsletters and newspapers. Focusing on periodicals published in five cities (New Orleans, Louisiana; Northampton, Massachusetts; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Iowa City, Iowa; and Los Angeles, California), this dissertation tracks the circulation of ideas to explore how feminism as a collective identity was produced and reproduced. Based on archival research throughout the country and an analysis of the circulation and repetition of language and images as well as on the effects of modes of periodical production, this dissertation draws from a wide range of literatures, including history, sociology, geography, cultural studies, visual studies, and history of the book, as well as from feminist theories about power and identity. I argue that during the 1970s feminist periodicals were vital to the production not just of feminism’s present and presence but also of feminism’s past and future. Periodicals additionally contributed to the discursive and material existence of the women’s liberation movement, allowing feminism’s past, present, and future to be imaginable as well as physically locatable.

 

Valsala Kumari

Bio:

Valsala Kumari defended her dissertation in 2011. After completion, she continued working as Secretary to the Government of Kerala, India, in the Labor and Employment Department. She served as the Director of the Social Welfare Department in charge of Women and Children in Kerala state for 3 years and was subsequently appointed as Secretary of the Statutory Women's Commission of Kerala for 2 years. In 1999 she was the recipient of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship awarded by the US Government for mid-career professionals with proven track record of leadership. Under the auspices of the Humphrey Fellowship, she completed a Masters in Planning and Urban Development at the Bloustein School of Rutgers University. She also completed an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers.

Job Placement History

Executive Director, Kudumbashree State Poverty Eradication Mission, Kerala, India

Dissertation Information

Title

Microcredit as a Poverty Alleviation Strategy, Women's Empowerment and Gender Relations

Committee

L. Fernandes, D. Hodgson, E. Brooks, P. Swaminathan

Abstract

This dissertation is about how women are empowered when they gain access to small loans (microcredit) and how that alters or reinforces existing gender relations. My study shows that “the poor” is not a monolithic entity but is an aggregation of differentiated categories with the most vulnerable segments of society occupying the lowest rung of society. The state-civil society synergy that is so characteristic of the state of Kerala does not percolate down to the poorest and most vulnerable segments of society and the tribes for a variety of reasons. If these segments of the population have to benefit, the structure of microcredit has to be redesigned to make it more appropriate and responsive to their special needs. Microcredit provides the entry point but it is the networking that empowers impoverished women who lack material resources. Networking itself is an umbrella term that entails different kinds of networking. My conclusion is that the women-centric microcredit program sponsored by the state marks a departure from the earlier paradigms of developments in which women were not placed at the center of developmental activities. The new paradigm is the state’s attempt at negotiating privatized strategies of development in the larger context of liberalization espoused by the Indian state. My study reveals that microcredit does help women tide over the emergency needs of the family without relying on others. But it is not a substitute for long term structural problems of poverty. The social solidarity generated by different kinds of networking helps women’s empowerment by way of expanding their consciousness through new knowledge including legal literacy and through exposure to other people with other ideals and ethics. I also find that the social capital generated by the networking of over 3.7 million women through self help groups has not transformed into organized demand cutting across party politics for radical changes like redistribution of resources especially arable land. Microcredit has functioned to depoliticize what could have been a progressive politics for gender equity.

 

Danielle Phillips

Bio:

Danielle received a B.A. in Comparative Women’s Studies from Spelman College and completed her PhD in 2010. She accepted a tenure-track position in Women's Studies at Texas Woman's University.

Job Placement History

Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies, Texas Woman’s University

Faculty Webpage

http://www.twu.edu/ws/phillips.asp

Dissertation Information

Title

Global Formations of Race in Close Quarters: Irish and African American Domestic Workers in New York, 1888-1940Global Formations of Race in Close Quarters: Irish and African American Domestic Workers in New York, 1888-1940

Committee

N. Hewitt; A. Ramos-Zayas; E. Brooks

Abstract

My dissertation investigates the experiences of southern African American women migrating to New York after emancipation and Irish women, who became heavily concentrated in domestic service positions there as a result of the migration that followed the devastating potato famines of the 1840s and 1850s. Although both groups of women were clearly marginalized because of their racial, gender, and class status, they moved to the center of debates about the meanings of citizenship, blackness, non-whiteness, whiteness, and the ideals of domesticity in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. As southern Black, immigrant, and white women came into greater contact in the domestic sphere, the supposed “bedrock” of American civilization, it became a site of contention as groups negotiated modes of power and definitions of who was white and who was an “American.” Native-born white employers and Irish and southern African American domestic workers used personal interactions, letters to the editor, satirical images, and newspaper and journal articles as platforms to construct identities that would allow them to claim the material and ideological promises of the “American Dream.” Debates about the “domestic service problem” in New York City did not occur in isolation, of course. Harper’s Bazaar and other periodicals carried these discussions overseas, featuring transnational conversations between employers in the U.S. and London who exchanged tips about how to deal with the “belligerent” domestic workers who were “invading” their homes and providing “inadequate” service. This study also examines how Black intellectuals including W.E.B. Du Bois and Anna Julia Cooper inserted their own theoretical contributions into this global debate about domestic service and the particular interaction between Irish and southern African American female laborers in the North. My dissertation investigates the experiences of southern African American women migrating to New York after emancipation and Irish women, who became heavily concentrated in domestic service positions there as a result of the migration that followed the devastating potato famines of the 1840s and 1850s. Although both groups of women were clearly marginalized because of their racial, gender, and class status, they moved to the center of debates about the meanings of citizenship, blackness, non-whiteness, whiteness, and the ideals of domesticity in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. As southern Black, immigrant, and white women came into greater contact in the domestic sphere, the supposed “bedrock” of American civilization, it became a site of contention as groups negotiated modes of power and definitions of who was white and who was an “American.” Native-born white employers and Irish and southern African American domestic workers used personal interactions, letters to the editor, satirical images, and newspaper and journal articles as platforms to construct identities that would allow them to claim the material and ideological promises of the “American Dream.” Debates about the “domestic service problem” in New York City did not occur in isolation, of course. Harper’s Bazaar and other periodicals carried these discussions overseas, featuring transnational conversations between employers in the U.S. and London who exchanged tips about how to deal with the “belligerent” domestic workers who were “invading” their homes and providing “inadequate” service. This study also examines how Black intellectuals including W.E.B. Du Bois and Anna Julia Cooper inserted their own theoretical contributions into this global debate about domestic service and the particular interaction between Irish and southern African American female laborers in the North.

 

2009

Christopher Rivera

Bio:

Christopher Rivera completed his interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University in August 2009. A recipient of the Southern Regional Education Board Dissertation Fellowship, in 2009 he secured a position for one year as Visiting Assistant Professor in race/ethnicity studies in the Comparative American Studies Program at Oberlin College, Ohio. In 2010 he was offered a position as Assistant Professor of American Culture and Literature, Department of American Culture and Literature, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey.

Job Placement History

  • Chairperson, Division of the Humanities, Essex County College
  • Assistant Professor of International Studies, University of Southern Indiana
  • Assistant Professor of American Culture and Literature, Department of American Culture and Literature, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Comparative American Studies Program (Race/Ethnicity Studies), Oberlin College (2009-2010)

Dissertation Information

Title

Admission as Submission: Richard Rodriquez's Autobiographies as an Epistemology of Penetration

Committee

D. Sifuentes, C. Decena, Y. Martinez, L. Stokes

Abstract

My dissertation is a study and contextualization of the three ethnic autobiographies of Chicano public intellectual Richard Rodriguez, The Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982), Days of Obligation: An Argument with my Mexican Father (1992), and Brown: The Last Discovery of America (2003). Since the publication of Hunger of Memory, Rodriguez is identified as being against political programs like affirmative action or a “poster boy” for right-wing politics. I argue for a more critical approach to Rodriguez’s controversial role in Chicana/o and Latina/o literary and cultural studies. I explore the evolution of the author-protagonist, Richard, and highlight how his struggles are exemplary of postcolonial subjects negotiating their way through Americanization. Assimilation produces psychosexual discourses that I analyze as particular to a colonized subject’s identity that is ambivalently positioned as at once typically American yet always outside the definition of what it means to be “authentically American.” Building upon Octavio Paz’s “penetration paradigm” and expanding the implicit queer reading of la chingada and el rajado metaphors defined in Laberinto de la soledad (1950), my project articulates how the concepts of penetration, rejection, and ambivalence become strategies of resistance postcolonial subjects manipulate in pursuit of (in)authentic Americanism. Spanning the U.S.-Mexican border, Rodriguez narrates the location the deviant, brown subject assumes in historical and present narratives of nation formation. Rodriguez presents a colonized American subject who openly defends and explores various ambivalent processes of acculturation and assimilation. Instead of adhering to Paz’s notion of impervious national masculinity, Rodriguez narrates his experiences as prototypical of the life of a deviant and dark subject who acknowledges the benefits and losses of openly admitting to inhabiting ambivalent locations in culture. Recognizing the relationship nations and individuals have with their ambivalence regarding penetration and rejection becomes crucial because admission is read as submission in the epistemology of penetration that my project delineates. Through close reading the autobiographies of Rodriguez, I identity a subtext of desire; it is a desire for memory, for the creation of alternative narratives and alternative spaces for postcolonial American life and subjectivity.

 

Kelly Coogan-Gehr

Bio:

Kelly Coogan-Gehr received a B.A. in Women’s Studies from Duke University in 2002, and she participated in the post-graduate course “Feminist Critical Analysis: Be/longing and Citizenship” offered through the Inter-University Centre, Dubrovnik, Croatia, in 2005. She defended her dissertation, "Feminist Scholarship: Excavating the Archive" in September 2009.

Job Placement History

  • Educator, National Nurses United/Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy (2011-Present)
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Eastern Washington University (2011)
  • Lecturer, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Eastern Washington University (2009-2011)

Dissertation Information

Title

Feminist Scholarship: Excavating the Archive

Committee

M. Hawkesworth, E. Grosz, F. Bartkowski, J. Gerson, D. Liebowitz

Abstract

My dissertation addresses the question of how feminist scholars define their field of inquiry. Most feminist scholars rely on a stock narrative of the history of feminist scholarship, which purportedly defines its processes and outcomes by decades—the white liberal feminist 1970s; the women-of-color, postmodern 1980s; and the poststructuralist, difference-focused 1990s, which they assume is adequate. My contention is that this stock narrative fails to adequately grapple with the complicated mix of forces that came together, and continuously collaborate, to create the event of feminist scholarship’s emergence. This emergence is the object of investigation for this dissertation. The study of emergence includes not only that which is visible and tangible about feminist scholarship in terms of its central ideas, concepts, theories, epistemologies, and methodologies, but also that which is not immediately or readily visible, such as the field’s animating intellectual and philosophical presuppositions and their relationships to time, space, temporality, and geography.

Identifying and demonstrating the deficiencies of the stock narrative of feminist scholarship, my dissertation develops several alternative accounts of feminist scholarship in its formation, contrasting the explanatory possibilities of approaches drawn from the history of ideas, the sociology of knowledge, and the Foucauldian archaeology. These three alternate accounts illuminate intricate and unexpected connections between academic feminism and geopolitical forces such as the Cold War, increased federal funding for higher education, changing priorities within philanthropic foundations, the emergence of development studies, area studies, and subfields such as Women in Development and Gender and Development. By complicating the narrative history of interdisciplinary feminist studies, the dissertation is able to offer a fresh interpretation of the centrality to academic feminism, particularly in postcolonial and transnational feminist scholarship, of key concepts advanced by U.S. scholars of color.

 

Magda Grabowska

Bio:

Magda Grabowska completed her Ph.D. in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers in April 2009. Utilizing interdisciplinary methods of feminist story telling, discourse analysis, and participant observation, Magda’s work contributed to ongoing debates on transnational feminism, cultural politics, sexual strangeness and the politics of location, and addressed the question of how Eastern European feminism fits into ongoing formulation and reformulation of global gender theory. Madga Grabowska joined the Women's and Gender Studies faculty at The College of New Jersey before accepting a 2 year Marie Curie Postdoc at the University of Warsaw, Poland, funded by the EU. Magda is now Research Professor at the Polish Academy of Philosophy and Social Science.

Job Placement History

  • Research Professor, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Philosophy and Social Science
  • Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Warsaw
  • Lecturer, Women’s and Gender Studies, The College of New Jersey

Dissertation Information

Title

Polish Feminism Between East and West: The Formation of the Polish Women's Movement Identity

Committee

J. Regulska, T. Kaplan, M. Hawkesworth, A. Snitow

Abstract

By focusing on the unique forces that shape women’s movements in the post-communist context, this dissertation asks if the established geopolitical and theoretical frameworks, based on dichotomies between East and West, South and North can be utilized outside these locations. Or is a new framework necessary to fully understand the specific processes that are at work in the ambiguous “Second” World location? Chapter One, traces the individual and collective trajectories of Polish women’s movement to the 19th century anti-partition mobilizations, the Second World War, the 1968 students’ liberation movement, the “Solidarity” labor union, and the 1990s Polish debate on abortion. Chapter Two identifies two elements as crucial for the unique development of transnational activism in the context of CEE: 1) its trajectory (“late” arrival into the international feminist space) and 2) the domination and critique of the EU “gender mainstreaming” paradigm within gender social justice discourses. Chapter Three recognizes the 1990s “abortion debate” became in impulse for the feminisms to move beyond the borders of the conservative nation state and bring the question of women’s sexual rights into the supranational political spaces and became a momentum for the emergence of versatile, vibrant mobilizations for gender and sexual justice in Poland and (e.g. European Court of Justice decision in the case of Alicja Tysiac against the Polish state). Chapter Four argues that secularism that had become, a necessary feminist response to violent and oppressive discourses that act to restrict women’s sexualities and rights, has also hindered feminist connectivity with religious women. In Poland a purification of the sexuality, emergence of the “political Catholicism” and “secular feminism” produced the subaltern, traveling identities of Catholic feminists. Chapter Five examines re-appropriation of the Anti-Semitic language of civic strangeness, historically represented by Polish Jews to the experience of sexual minorities. In conclusion this dissertation delineates two factors as decisive for current positionality of the “Second” world in the transnational feminist theory and practice: the rejection of Marxism as representing the colonial practices from the East (Russia, Soviet Union), the priotization of the supranational engagements with the European Union and Western Europe rather then Third World.

 

 2008

Rama Lohani Chase

Bio:

Rama Lohani Chase was the second doctoral student in Women's and Gender Studies to successfully defend her dissertation. Rama's dissertation explored changing gender dynamics during crisis and armed conflict to see how global trends in movements of people, labor, and capital impact the appropriation and production of gender at the local level. Her work focused on the decade long (1996-2006) "People's War" in Nepal and the effects of three key processes -- militarization, displacement, and gender emobdiment -- on Nepali women.

Job Placement History

  • Instructor, Psychology-Sociology, Union County College
  • Lecturer, Women’s and Gender Studies, The College of New Jersey

Dissertation Information

Title

Women and Gender in the Maoist People's War in Nepal: Militarism and Dislocation

Committee

E. Grosz, L. Ahearn, B. Balliet, N.Fermen, J. Diamond

Abstract

This dissertation explores changing gender dynamics during crisis and armed conflict to see how global/transnational movements of people, labor, and capital impact the appropriation and production of gender at the local level. The decade long (1996-2006) "People's War" in Nepal produced three key processes -- militarization, displacement, and altered embodiments of gender -- that impacted Nepali women and society. Through a study of women's position in Nepali political and cultural history and multi-sited ethnographic research on the People's War, the dissertation examines how crisis induced displacement and violence impacted and shaped gender dynamics at the local level and Nepali people's mobility at the transnational/global level. The latter has enabled the concept of a "Nepali diaspora" to be more visible and political, which is a strategy of survival appropriated by the globally dispersed Nepalis as their homeland reels under crisis and violence and as Nepalis continue to leave for work as migrant laborers. A close look at women's participation in the Maoist war and their representation by the Maoists as well as the state military brings new insights into women's agency through the embodiment of militancy and militarism. Yet, the "call to arms" for women in Nepal raises important questions for the feminist politics of representation vis a vis other movements around the globe for peace and social justice. Taking a feminist interdisciplinary perspective, the dissertation explores the ways in which the bio-politics of body, gender, and sexuality are enmeshed with nationalism, ideology and economics and work in the production of the "military woman" and the "revolutionary woman" in contemporary times of transnationalism and globalization.

 

2007

Zenzele Isoke

Bio:

Zenzele received a B.A. in Political Science from Clark Atlanta University and an M.A. in Political Science from University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. She is the first student to complete a PhD in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers, and upon completion in 2007 she accepted a tenure-track position at University of Minnesota. Zenzele is deeply committed to transformative research and teaching, to the development of sophisticated understanding of Black women’s social and political activism in national and transnational contexts, and to the quest for social justice in a globalizing world.

Job Placement History

  • Associate Professor, Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies; Political Science; and African American & African Studies, University of Minnesota (2007-Present)

Faculty Webpage

https://apps.cla.umn.edu/directory/profiles/isoke001

Dissertation Information

Title

The Political Spaces of Black Women in the City: Identity, Agency and the Flow of Social Capital in Newark, NJ

Committee

M. Hawkesworth, S. Carroll, J. Regulska, J. Junn

Abstract

This project explores U.S. Black women's participation in social networks that enable political mobilizations in Newark, NJ. These networks include religious and social clubs, service clubs, neighborhood associations, indigenous cultural organizations, women's ethnic organizations, labor unions and other types of voluntary organizations that facilitate the creation, flow, and utilization of social capital. These networks transcend allegiance to local, state or national centers of government and often pursue politics that seek to blur or defy well-defined scalar structures. Often they seek to connect politics to larger racialized national trends in political economy while seeking to make social and political change at the local level. Using an interpretivist approach to data collection and analysis, I explore the discursive strategies of politicization, including the positive actions that U.S. Black women take to create and maintain political spaces that can be used to pursue their political objectives in Newark, NJ. This research suggests that in cases when Black women's political agency contributes to Black cultural production, the political support and cultivation of social capital to support Black women's political agency can be expected to flourish. When Black women politically challenge hegemonic elements of Black cultural production--specifically when they have challenged singular, masculinist conceptions of both Blackness and community--the flow of social capital in support of that agency will be stifled, resulting in the lack of social transformation at the local level.

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