2014-15 RIG Digest

Research Interest Groups at CSWS

Américas RIG—For AY 2014-15 the RIG organized its activities around the theme “The Borders Within,” taking as its core objective the popular feminist slogan “the personal is political” by focusing on topics that are typically relegated to “private” sphere—namely family and sexuality. RIG members were particularly interested in the ways that borders—between countries and groups, physical and imagined, are reproduced, rearticulated or transformed in women and men’s everyday, “private” lives.  Three speakers explored these themes in public talks.

In October, Leisy Abrego, whose current work focuses on the role of gender and legal status in determining the well-being of Salvadoran transnational families separated by migration, spoke on the topic “Sacrificing Families: U.S. Policies and the Displacement of Central Americans.”

Ileana Rodríguez-Silva, an assistant professor of Latin American history at the University of Washington, gave a public talk in February on “Gender and Class in the Silencing of Race in Puerto Rico” and also participated in a “meet the author” work-in-progress lunch with RIG members, presenting a paper entitled “Making Regions in Area Studies: Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and the House of Mirrors.”

The RIG also hosted a work-in-progress lunch in which Prof. Reuben Zahler presented his paper “The Orthodoxy of Masculinity: Catholicism, Honor, and Poor Men in Venezuela, 1780-1850.”

The RIG partnered with the UO Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies and the UO Center on Diversity and Community (CoDaC) in April to host a publishing workshop with Duke University Press’s Gisela Fosado, editor for anthropology, history, Latin American studies, social movements, gender studies, environmental studies, and Latino/a studies. This workshop covered some of the common challenges of turning the dissertation into a first book, and the complicated state of the publishing industry and trends that are emerging in publishing scholarly books. The workshop also covered books with integral digital content, including discussion on gender and newer publication formats. In addition to this public talk, the RIG helped arrange for one-on-one meetings between Dr. Fosado and seven UO faculty with book projects.

In May, the RIG hosted a public talk with Jessaca Leinaweaver, associate professor of anthropology at Brown University and the author of books, articles, and other publications exploring the subjects of kinship, child fostering, migration, race/ethnicity, and nation-building in Andean Peru and in the Peruvian diaspora. Her current work examines novel forms of international and domestic adoption that are shaped by labor migration, and argues that the dichotomy between international and domestic adoption is difficult to sustain in current conditions of global migration. Her public talk was entitled “Collaborative Research on Youth, Kinship, and Migration in the Andes.”

Additional work-in-progress events included Kristin Yarris, assistant professor of international studies, with “Nicaraguan Migration, Solidarity, and Grandmothering,” and PhD candidate Feather Crawford, history.

CSWS provided RIG Innovation Funding to the Américas RIG for its 2015-16 proposal, “Thriving in Academe.” Proposed activities include one work-in-progress lunch each term; a winter roundtable titled “The Relationship Between Activism and Research,” which will bring together UO scholars and two scholars from outside institutions to discuss how research can strengthen activism and vice versa, how to address potential criticisms of activist research and navigate disciplinary and professional norms around what “counts” as valid research; and a public talk in spring 2016, “Increasing the Visibility of Research on Gender,” about multiple ways that scholars who conduct research using a gender lens can increase the visibility of their work.

The series of proposed activities are oriented towards engaging local and external scholars of gender in the Americas in conversations about how to thrive in an academic setting that often marginalizes their research and how to successfully combine their research and non-research related goals.  As such it will focus on a different kind of knowledge production and dissemination than is often emphasized by research interest groups—one that is too often overlooked but remains critical to the success and retention of diverse, engaged, and enthusiastic faculty.

Disability Studies RIG—During its second year, the RIG focused its activities on growing the community of disability studies scholarship at UO and making connections with other disability studies programs in the region. This included regular meetings to discuss shared reading, such as Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s Misfits: A Feminist Materialist Disability Concept, and to hear about and comment on RIG members’ works in progress.

The RIG was also involved in the second annual UO Disability Studies Forum, held October 30, 2014, at which Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, professor of English at Emory University and a nationally respected figure in disability studies, gave a keynote lecture on her most recent work. Following the keynote, the forum brought together UO faculty, community leaders, and disability scholars from other institutions in the Pacific Northwest to discuss their work and their visions for the growth of disability studies at the UO and in the region. To wrap up the year, and in collaboration with the UO AccessABILITY Student Union, the RIG held an informal Disability Studies Coffee Hour to help spread awareness of disability studies at the UO and to help form and maintain connections between researchers, students, and community members on and around campus.

Members of the RIG have also been involved in the UO Disability Studies Initiative and work to create a degree program in disability studies at UO. The flexibility of the RIG structure and its focus on research and praxis has created a rich symbiotic relationship with the Disability Studies Initiative. The RIG remains focused on developing and enriching disability studies scholarship and pedagogy at the UO, activities that a disability studies degree program would benefit from significantly.

Feminist Philosophy RIG—In fall term, the RIG held three meetings: 1) to screen and discuss Marleen Gorris’s A Question of Silence (1982); 2) to discuss several chapters of Miranda Fricker’s Epistemic Injustice; and 3) to discuss Tuana’s and Sullivan’s Epistemology of Ignorance. In winter and spring terms, the RIG began hosting interdisciplinary Happy Hour meetings as an opportunity to get to know fellow graduate students from other departments who share an interest in feminism. The RIG also hosted a paper workshop to discuss each other’s works-in-progress. In May, the RIG held its Fifth Annual Celebration of Women and Diversity in Philosophy. Organizers spoke about the importance of their commitments to feminism and diversity. The event was highly attended and united undergrads, graduate students, and faculty, providing a platform for community building.

In collaboration with the philosophy department, RIG members have begun the process of planning an interdisciplinary feminist workshop on campus in the 2015-2016 academic year.

Gender in Africa and the African Diaspora RIG—This reactivated RIG hosted a total of fourteen events, which established a strong public presence on campus, contributed to new intellectual partnerships among UO faculty and between UO faculty and national-level scholars, and provided spaces for faculty and students with interests related to gender to come together. The RIG partnered with a number of different units on campus to host events, including the Departments of Folklore, History, Comparative Literature, Religious Studies, English, and Women’s and Gender Studies, as well as the Clark Honors College, the Gabon Oregon Center, and the African Studies Program.

The RIG coordinated five meetings, including several work-in-progress talks. The RIG also coordinated one film screening of “The Supreme Price” and two professional development opportunities—a work party during fall 2014 and a two-hour writing seminar by Dr. Wendy Belcher in spring 2015.
The RIG coordinated six public lectures on the topic of “Gender in Africa,” which included Beverly Stoeltje (Indiana University), “Queen Mothers in Contemporary Asante in Ghana: Authority or Decorative Symbol?”; Jinny Prais (Columbia University), “‘Who is Marjorie Mensah?’ The Educated Woman and the Formation of a Modern West African Nation;” Yvonne Braun (UO Departments of International Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies), “Networking for Women’s Rights: Transnational Organizing in Southern Africa;” Kemi Balogun (UO Departments of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies), “Beauty Diplomacy and Entrepreneurial Masculinity: State and Market in the Nigerian Beauty Pageant Industry;” Wendy Belcher (Princeton University), “Same-Sex Intimacies in an Early Modern African Text about an Ethiopian Female Saint;” and Laura Fair (Michigan State University), “It Takes More Than Profits to Make a Man: Historical Understandings of Success Amongst Tanzanian Entrepreneurs.” Guests to be invited in 2015-16 will focus on the theme of sexuality.

Healing Arts RIG—During AY 2014-15, RIG members met six times to discuss works in progress. Marjorie Woollacott, UO Department of Human Physiology, presented chapters from her book manuscript on consciousness and healing, Infinite Awareness: The Awakening of a Scientific Mind (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Oct. 2015). The monograph draws on her long-term experiences as a woman neuroscientist and meditator. Dorothee Ostmeier, UO Department of German and Folklore Program, led discussions about her research on postmodern fantasy and femininity in the film Her and on 19th-century issues of fantasy,  femininity, and technology. The group explored at other meetings Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight and catalysts for storytelling. RIG members aim to link the concepts of consciousness, imaginary others, and magic / fantastic agencies to bridge the divide between scientific, literary, and gender studies, research that is crucial for fostering their interdisciplinary agenda. Their long-term book project is an anthology of essays on the healing arts.

Indigenous Women of the Northwest RIG—In May 2015, Theresa May’s Women and Rivers Project brought guest artist Muriel Miguel (Kuna/Rappahannock), the founder and director of Spiderwoman Theater Company, to campus for a series of workshops and events around the topic of Native theatre, indigenous women’s knowledge, and queer indigenous performance. Using what Spiderwoman Theater calls “story-weaving,” a culminating workshop brought over 30 Native and non-Native students and community members together for a day-long Storyweaving Workshop on May 16. The workshop included performance processes, training, and presentations for and with the community. Spiderwoman Theater Company is one of the oldest and best known contemporary indigenous women’s theatre ensembles in North America. They have nurtured and inspired generations of Native women playwrights and performers. Their mission forwards the concerns of indigenous women “to present exceptional theater performance and to offer theater training and education rooted in an urban Indigenous performance practice. [Spiderwoman artists] entertain and challenge our audiences and create an environment where the Indigenous, women’s and arts communities can come together to examine and discuss their cultural, social and political concerns.”

Theresa May, UO Department of Theatre Arts, combined funds from her 2014-15 CSWS faculty research grant—drawn from the Mazie Giustina Endowment for Research on Women in the Northwest—and funds from a CSWS RIG Development Grant awarded to the CSWS research interest group “Indigenous Women of the Northwest: Culture, Community, and Concerns.” The RIG funds made it possible for tribal community members throughout Oregon to attend and participate in the Spiderwoman Theater Residency. In addition, RIG funds cosponsored the week’s events and hosted a dinner with the guest artists and scholar.

According to Professor May, “Muriel Miguel’s week-long visit to campus brought focus to women’s lived experience, women’s stories, and women’s knowledge through creative process, and theatrical performance. The events of the Spiderwoman Residency opened up conversations about Native theatre and dramaturgy, and queer indigenous performance. Several tribal members who participated in the Storyweaving Workshop expressed interest in future creative and theatrical collaborations with UO.”

RIG funding cosponsored the following public events during the Spiderwoman Residency:
• Scholar’s Talk & Dialogue: Dr. Jean O’Hara and Muriel Miguel—“Two-Spirit Stories: Reclaiming Native Understandings of Sexuality & Gender,” Many Nations Longhouse
• Salmon Dinner—Many Nations Longhouse
• Spiderwoman Theater Retrospective—lecture presentation, UO Hope Theatre, Miller Theatre Complex
• Storyweaving Workshop, Hope Theatre, Miller Theatre Complex
• Storyweaving Sharing event

RIG funds were specifically requested and used as honorariums to assist tribal community members in participating in Muriel Miguel’s residency and workshop on May 16. RIG funding allowed nine members of Oregon tribal communities to travel to UO and participate in the day-long workshop by helping provide for travel expenses. Tribal participants included two members of Grande Ronde, one member of Karuk, and six members of Warm Springs. Members of the Klamath, Siletz, and Coquille tribes were also invited but were unable to attend.

RIG funding also provided for the design and printing of a poster to advertise the week’s events and to list and network promotion of the events to UO community, tribal communities, and other local and regional groups. RIG funding helped provide for video documentation of Muriel Miguel’s keynote “Spiderwoman Theater Retrospective” and video and photography of the Storyweaving Workshop. Finally, RIG funding provided for a dinner with Spiderwoman Theater guests, guest scholar Jean O’Hara, RIG members, and other guests.

The main events of the Spiderwoman Residency were well attended and generated excitement at the intersection of Native/queer identities, Native theatre and storytelling, and Native presence on the UO campus. Dr. O’Hara and Muriel Miguel’s scholar’s talk on May 12 in the Many Nations Longhouse drew over 45 people, including students from classes in the Departments of Ethnic Studies and Theatre Arts, as well as faculty, staff, and community members. The discussion following the presentation was electric and engaging. The Spiderwoman Retrospective Lecture on Friday evening May 15 likewise included a diverse intersection of community audience, students, faculty, and staff.

The culminating event, the Storyweaving Workshop on May 16, was both intergenerational and represented a remarkable intersection of constituencies. About one third of the group were UO students and staff, about one third were tribal members, and about one third were people from the Eugene/Springfield community. All ages were represented, including tribal elders and young people, older community members, graduate and undergraduate students, and UO staff. Tribal participants came from across the state, including Ashland and Warm Springs. The workshop represented a rich sharing of stories and storytelling methods, and a collaborative learning opportunity and exchange between UO students and staff, community, and tribal members. Participants expressed a desire to have more such forums for creative exchange and appreciated that the university had hosted an inclusive (and free) event of this kind.

Taken together, the events of the Spiderwoman Residency brought focus to the power of Native Theatre and Native storytelling, and increased visibility of Native presence on the UO campus. Muriel Miguel was interviewed as part of an article in the Daily Emerald that same week on Native identity on campus. The Residency brought attention to Native and women’s issues and concerns, particularly in a KLCC interview with Muriel Miguel, which aired on May 14: http://klcc.org/post/spiderwoman-theater-bringing-light-native-american-and-womens-issues.

Narrative, Health, and Social Justice RIG—During AY 2014-15, the RIG oriented its activities around a shared reading of the book Scrambling for Africa: AIDS, Expertise, and the Rise of American Global Health Science corresponding to the visit of author Johanna Crane (University of Washington–Bothell), a medical anthropologist whose work takes global health science as a field of knowledge and a site of critical inquiry, showing how racial, gendered, and political-economic inequalities are reflected in contemporary global health research. Coordinated in conjunction with the Gender in Africa RIG, Dr. Crane’s visit April 8-10 brought together faculty and students from across campus for two public talks and a series of individual meetings and mealtime conversations. Her CSWS-sponsored lecture on April 9 included faculty and students from the Departments of Anthropology, African Studies, International Studies, History, Human Physiology, Planning, Policy and Management, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Philosophy, as well as community members that included a returned Peace Corps volunteer and a local midwife. During her visit, Dr. Crane also met with six students to talk about their interests in global health as a field for future training and professional careers. At meals with Dr. Crane, faculty members and RIG participants from multiple campus departments engaged in compelling conversation about how to build a global health program at UO that moves beyond inequalities and legacies of colonialism and works to build truly collaborative partnerships across borders and other boundaries of difference/inequality.

The RIG sponsored work-in-progress events with Melissa Graboyes, UO Department of History, who presented a grant proposal for research on medical experimentation in Africa; and Sara Lewis, visiting assistant professor of anthropology, who shared her book proposal.

Several RIG members were actively involved with the Western Regional International Health Conference, a student-organized conference held at UO April 11-12. Elizabeth Reis, UO Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, and Kristin Yarris, UO Departments of International Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies, collaborated with conference planning,  content selection and organization, and gave presentations. Reis spoke on “Intersex and Human Rights: Is the Tide Turning?” Yarris organized the panel “Politics and Health of Migrants from Mexico, Central America, and the U.S.” and presented a paper titled “Transit Migration through Mexico: Encounters of Risk and Care,” alongside presentations by two of her student advisees. This conference participation helped put the UO on the map in global health research in the Northwest region, presenting UO as a site where health is studied and taught through critical, historical, and feminist approaches.

For AY 2015-16, the RIG will focus activities around the theme, “Global Bioethics: History, Gender, and Power.” The RIG chose this theme both because it corresponds with existing faculty strengths but also because it represents a way for members to further expand the RIG’s reach and influence across campus. The main activities will include four research talks during the year, three by UO faculty and one by a visiting scholar. To correspond with these activities, the RIG will engage in common reading of two of these scholars’ work.

In fall 2015, the RIG will read the forthcoming book by Melissa Graboyes, The Experiment Must Continue: Medical Research and Ethics in East Africa, 1940-2014. Dr. Graboyes’ work examines the ways that colonial, racialized, and cultural discourses shaped the logics of medical experimentation in often unethical ways and raises important questions about the ethical implications of contemporary global health research.

In winter 2016, the RIG will sponsor two research talks: 1) a work-in-progress talk by Elizabeth Reis, discussing her new book project, which examines women’s bodies and bioethics controversies; 2) a talk by Susan Reverby, the Marion Butler McLean Professor in the History of Ideas and professor of women’s and gender studies at Wellesley College.

As a historian of American health care, Dr. Reverby’s research has been on women’s health, women as health workers/professionals, and the ethics of public health and research. In recent years she completed a long commitment to writing about what is often called the infamous “Tuskegee” syphilis study, the four decades long (1932-72) U.S. Public Health Service research study in which African American men were deceived into believing they were being treated, not monitored, for their disease. She edited a book on this study called Tuskegee’s Truths: Rethinking the Tuskegee Syphilis Study (2000).

Her own book on the study, Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and Its Legacy, appeared in 2009, winning three major academic awards. She was also part of the Legacy Committee that led to President Clinton offering a federal apology for this study in 1997.

As part of the research on the syphilis study, Reverby found unpublished papers about a Public Health Service study (1946-48) in Guatemala that involved infecting men and women in a prison, army barracks and a mental hospital with sexually transmitted diseases. Her work was used as the basis for the U.S. government’s apology by the Secretaries of State and Health and Human Services to the people of Guatemala, a focus on the study by the President’s Bioethical Issues Commission, and the reassessment of the protections we give to subjects, especially in studies that take place outside the U.S. borders. Reverby’s work thus engages with several themes of interest to this RIG: the gender politics of health and medicine, bioethics and race, power and inequality in knowledge production about health, and the tension between sentimental “humanitarian” narratives and the economic exploitation of the Global South.

In addition to a public talk, Dr. Reverby will lead a smaller workshop for RIG members focused on three themes: (1) the ethics of conducting research in sites of medical inequality; (2) making our scholarly work more visible; and (3) the connections between research and social activism to rectify health inequalities. Themes 2 and 3 correspond with the Ámericas RIG programmatic focus next year, and members of the two RIGs plan to coordinate Dr. Reverby’s visit.

The RIG’s final research talk will be presented in spring 2016 by Nicolae Morar, UO Department of Philosophy. His work examines bioethics from the perspective of science and technology.

All RIG members are doing research projects that take a feminist perspective and/or focus on issues related to gender and health in various global locations. Activities next year will be focused on supporting a feminist approach to narrative, health, and social justice in their research and teaching through the specific lens of global bioethics, history, gender, and power. The RIG will support members in coordinating individual course syllabi around the annual theme, coordinating weekly themes related to global bioethics, generating ideas for course readings and assignments, and sharing particular perspectives and areas of expertise through guest lectures in each others’ classes during the year.

Social Science Feminist Network (SSFN) RIG—In the 2014-2015 academic year, the SSFN-RIG began a study regarding sexual assault at UO with the guiding question: What themes are present and absent in official university communications regarding sexual violence? Although the project initially began as a pilot project, RIG members decided to undertake a full-scale research project, even if it extended beyond this academic year. They created a research protocol that includes data ownership and interaction protocols, participation-tracking protocols, publication standards, authorship rights, and exit strategies. They then chose to conduct a discursive analysis and narrowed down the scope of data collection. Based on preliminary research they selected university offices to investigate, and then divided labor among group members and began collecting data.

In the coming year, the SSFN-RIG plans to explore feminist theory through a reading group, starting with Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal, which will support the intellectual pathways of many of its members, some of whom are reading feminist theory for their comprehensive exams.
The RIG will continue the collaborative research project on university discourse around sexual violence, spending meetings coding data. By spring, they plan to write up the research with the intention to submit it for publication. They will revisit the Feminist Agenda, their RIG history project, and continue to reach out to former RIG members to learn more about their current work and with an eye toward strengthening a broad network of feminist intellectuals. Members will also meet to share and workshop their own scholarly work at regular meetings.

New Research Interest Groups

Globalization & Alterity RIG—This RIG brings together cross-disciplinary scholars who seek to critically engage trans- and supranational phenomena and their implications for issues of gender and alterity. Using globalization as a nexus for these conversations, the RIG aims at collaborative attempts to understand the ways in which latent and manifest geopolitical transformations act upon women and gender minorities and how these forces are in turn negotiated within local contexts. In supporting scholarly exchange and structured dialogue, RIG members hope to strengthen existing scholarship and promote innovation through the application of feminist methodologies and reflexive, critical analysis of globalization studies.

Media, Education, and Technology—This RIG seeks to advance interdisciplinary collaboration on research, teaching, and service related to the intersection of these three areas of study. The RIG will focus on topics that address issues of equity, diversity, and representation of women, gender minorities, and people of color in public education and in the media. Though an intersectional approach to social identities will be addressed in this RIG, the methodological approach to this scholarly dialogue will draw from the influential work of feminist standpoint theory (i.e., Patricia Hill Collins, Sandra Harding, and others). For the purposes of this RIG, standpoint theory will frame the notions that youth from school communities are uniquely situated to produce media representing knowledge of local social and political issues.

Supporting the Advancement of Diversity in Design [STAnDD] RIG—This student group was first conceived and developed in May 2014 and established in September 2014. Its goals are mentorship, leadership and collaboration, and to create a community for the advancement of women and the promotion of equity and diversity in the fields of architecture and design. The RIG is committed to professional development of students in design professions and strives to provide access for students to attend conferences and workshops that will prepare them for their careers. STAnDD is also committed to creating a culture of inclusion by making current disparities understood and part of a larger conversation about equity in the field.

STAnDD spearheaded several projects in its short time as a RIG, starting the year with a poster project that highlighted women architects and their achievements. In November, STAnDD initiated a “skillshare” series of workshops between the AAA Departments of Architecture and Planning, Public Policy and Management. Winter term was focused on branding STAnDD, designing a poster for the AAA student organization board, as well as numerous meetings, conference calls, and a recruitment strategy related to a lecture and panel for the Holistic Options for Planet Earth Sustainability Conference [HOPES]. STAnDD worked collaboratively with UO faculty, the HOPES leadership team, and other groups to compose the event “Taking Our Temperature: Who’s Missing?” in April 2015. This included a presentation of TM32PP’s Survey of Equity in Architecture and discussion from five women panelists representing the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and construction.

Upcoming research projects include 1) Survey of Equity in Architecture and Design, Northwest;  2) Survey of Reviewers for AAA. In exchange for participation hours, STAnDD will offer funds for professional development to its members. By incentivizing participation, STAnDD will create a sustainable system of involvement, wherein members contribute to STAnDD projects and attend conferences with funding they earn.

In 2015-16, STAnDD plans to facilitate and organize a AAA Shadow Mentor Day in collaboration with existing AAA student groups. Visiting lecturers to the AAA are predominantly men. STAnDD will allocate funds to recruit a more diverse suite of guest lecturers to offer students and professors a more representative cross-section of innovators in the profession.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is hosting a Women’s Leadership Summit (WLS) in Seattle in September 2015. The summit provides an opportunity for UO students to network and learn from professionals interested in the advancement of women. STAnDD plans to fund transportation costs for participants and admission for three additional students. STAnDD plans to translate the WLS experience into a postconference presentation to benefit individuals unable to attend.

Funds from a CSWS 2015-16 RIG Innovation Grant will provide means to further the understanding of equity issues in architecture and design, grow STAnDD’s student base, and award group members for their time, effort, and participation. STAnDD intends to create a constructive conversation about equity and diversity in architecture and design, bridging the academic and professional realms. Future plans include broadening the dialogue, and developing an outreach program in K12 schools.