IRW Seminar

Decolonizing Gender/Gendering Decolonization

Since 1997, the IRW has convened a year-long seminar which brings together faculty and advanced graduate students from a broad range of disciplines and from all three Rutgers campuses (New Brunswick, Newark and Camden). The seminar revolves around an annual theme that is also shared by our distinguished lecture series and undergraduate learning community. The IRW's seventeenth annual interdisciplinary seminar takes as its theme "Decolonizing Gender/Gendering Decolonization." Selected Rutgers faculty, advanced graduate students and IRW Global Scholars whose projects address this theme will participate in the 2013-2014 seminar, which meets weekly from September through April. Seminar fellows will attend the Thursday morning seminar meetings, provide a paper for discussion in the seminar, and open a seminar session with an extended response to another scholar’s paper.


Scholarship on colonialism and gender has encouraged comparative studies about cultural notions of gender and sexuality as well as on the intersectionality of colonialism, race, and gender studies. In the 1980s and 1990s, important scholarship in area and ethnic studies compared the condition of women’s subordination to internal colonialism, stressing the importance of studying gender in an open dialogue with the analysis of structures of power. Foundational works, such as Women: The Last Colony (1988), The Invention of Women (1997) and Methodology of the Oppressed (2000) have proposed notions of gender, race and sexuality as central to the articulation of colonial, postcolonial, and decolonial thought. Aníbal Quijano’s “coloniality of power” was soon redefined by Maria Lugones’ “coloniality of gender.” Foucault’s notion of biopolitics was racialized and sexualized by critics like Ann Stoler, and several postcolonial critics openly addressed the complex issues of gender, race and sexuality in the contradictory condition of colonial and peripheral countries in the context of a supposedly postcolonial and global world. Third World Feminism and Women of Color decolonial critical thinking by scholars including Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Gloria Anzaldúa, Gayatri Spivak, Uma Narayan, Jacqui Alexander, Chela Sandoval, María Lugones and Ania Loomba, among many others, have been crucial in the rearticulation of new colonial and postcolonial discourses in which feminism and gender play a central role. Our annual topic for 2013-14 will explore two key sets of questions: what is (and has been) the relationship between gender and decolonial imaginaries? And how can a critical engagement with gender in colonial and postcolonial contexts promote the decolonization of notions of gender expression and sexuality and further gendered agency in a global context?


This seminar will encourage a broad conversation about decolonization as it relates to women, gender and sexuality. Seminar participants include fellows from the Graduate School of Education, as well as from such departments as History, Sociology, AMESALL and Women's and Gender Studies (New Brunswick and Camden). We will also be joined by our two WGS/IRW Mellon Fellows and by an IRW Global Scholar from Iceland.

 


 

2013-14 Seminar Schedule

2013-14 Seminar Fellows and Abstracts

Seminar FAQ

Seminar Archive

 

IRW Seminar

 

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 Feminist In/Security: Vulnerability, Securitization, and States of Crisis

The Institute for Research on Women (IRW) announces its twentieth annual interdisciplinary seminar, “Feminist In/Security: Vulnerability, Securitization, and States of Crisis.” We live in a time of fear, when “security” has become a keyword, promising to alleviate threats of violence at home and abroad. Securitization has also become big, transnational business. Techniques, methods, and technologies of securitization are mobile and adaptable, and they travel alongside experts and expertise within a global market that brings together various—and sometimes surprising—actors. During the 2016-17 academic year, IRW will look at questions of international and domestic security from a range of feminist and queer perspectives. How might feminist and queer analyses and methods help us better understand regional, international, and transnational crises—from Ebola to the spread of ISIS to the mass movement of refugees? How do concepts such as homonationalism (Puar) or methods derived from “queer intellectual curiosity” (Weber) disrupt conventional understandings of sexuality, power, statehood, and international politics?

Feminist and queer scholarship have challenged and re-conceptualized many of the key assumptions of international security discourse, critiquing mainstream debates and revisiting constructs, including political realism (Tickner, Peterson), militarism (Enloe), post colonialism (Alexander, Talpade Mohanty), and human rights (Thoreson, Aradau). Influenced by feminist scholars and activists, the United Nations has broadened its interpretation of security, incorporating aspects of human security, such as freedom from rape, environmental degradation, and poverty, into a definition typically associated with the territorial integrity and autonomy of states. Yet despite its lip-service to gender equity, the UN’s approach often conceals gender-based injustices (including those related to gender identity and expression) and regularly ignores the intersectionality of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and legal status. Indeed, gender is often introduced into studies of international and human security in ways that are trivial and tokenistic rather than addressing the complex realities of vulnerable subjects globally. Although these approaches aim at securing women or sexual minorities, technologies and theories of securitization are often articulated through class, racial, and gender difference. Old problems gain new descriptions: under- and unemployed young men, for example, are no longer threats to the health of a national economy but become security threats (Amar).

At the level of the state, feminist and queer scholars and activists have used the concept of security to critically examine a variety of issues, including mass incarceration, profiling, domestic violence, and sex work. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement developed an explicitly feminist analysis of state violence under white supremacy and the ways communities of color are acutely susceptible to police brutality. Within a transnational context, scholars have demonstrated how the migration apparatus of the United States inflicts violence and terror on migrant families, often in the name of “security” for the homeland (Schmidt Camacho, Golash-Boza). Trans Studies scholars have noted similarities between the policing of national borders and the policing of genders, and described how gender-nonconforming bodies can disrupt systems of surveillance utilized in the name of national security (Aizura, Beauchamp). Indeed, surveillance technologies are increasingly used both to terrorize women and to profile populations of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent, resulting in heightened surveillance and the increasing vulnerability and criminalization of already marginalized communities. Yet while vulnerability can prove dangerous, “brittle,” or insecure, scholars also note its potential to reorient relationships between self and others, creating generative spaces for feminist interventions through solidarity and resistance (Ahmed, Butler).

 


2016-17 Seminar Fellows
2016-17 Seminar Schedule
2017-18 Seminar Call

 

IRW Seminar

 

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The Perils of Populism: Feminist Perspectives on the Current Political Crisis in the West

The Institute for Research on Women (IRW) announces its twenty-first annual interdisciplinary seminar, “The Perils of Populism: Feminist Perspectives on the Current Political Crisis in the West.” A rightwing populism that scapegoats society’s most vulnerable populations is emerging across the west and enjoying growing political power. Drawing upon age-old themes of racial resentment, such movements pose nationalism as the solution to economic and social malaise. In the United States, the resurgence of populism has resulted in a dramatic rise of violence, harassment, and hate speech directed against immigrants, people of color, Muslims, Jews, LGBT people and other marginalized communities. How can a feminist lens diagnose the current political moment, and help us to move beyond it? What, if anything, can we learn from the ways feminists have challenged reactionary populism in Europe, as well as in South Asia, the Middle East and Latin America? Might feminism help us combat hatred and despair and move toward a more just future?

As observers have argued, globalization, growing social inequality, the changing media universe, and other factors contribute to the rise of reactionary populist movements. Though not always explicitly articulated, gender plays a central role as well, as it does in all aspects of political life. Gender shapes how the powerful mobilize, how social issues are framed, and whose narratives—and lives—count. Gender also intersects with race, sexuality, nationality, and class in organizing support for such movements, and resistance to them. Rage against the political system is frequently articulated in gendered terms as a defense of hegemonic forms of masculinity, reinforcing gender binaries and shunning gender transgression.

Feminist analyses have helped identify strategies for organizing, movement building, and the pursuit of policy change. Some feminists suggest that in order to oppose growing reactionary political tendencies, women must be elected to public office. Others have mobilized around salient gender-related issues, such as reproductive rights, employment equity, sexual harassment, and violence. Still others have played leading roles in movements with broader political objectives, from the LGBT movement to Black Lives Matter. Feminism has helped scholars and activists conceptualize powerful visions of a more just world.

In the 2017-18 IRW seminar we will build upon this important work, looking specifically at the roles feminist knowledge and praxis can play in a period of rightwing populism. We particularly welcome contributions that look at how activist projects can imbue our scholarship, and how scholarship can advance activism. Some possible topics relevant to the seminar theme include, but are not limited to:

  • gendering support for rightwing populism
  • masculinity and foreign policy
  • feminism, the state, and democracy
  • the role of the feminist scholar in a time of repression
  • gender and sexual migrants across national boundaries
  • gendering Islamophobia
  • genocide, ethnonationalism, and collective memory
  • sexual violence and the politics of everyday
  • the gender of racism and the racism of gender
  • feminist organizing and coalition building
  • gender, social media, and the (anti?) democratic public sphere
  • affective politics: anger, rage, and embodiment
  • gender and the mass psychology of the far right
  • religious freedom and dissent
  • human and civil rights
  • class and urban/rural divides

We invite applications from faculty and advanced graduate students (ABD status required) whose projects explore aspects of our theme. Individuals from all disciplines, schools, and programs on all Rutgers campuses are welcome to apply. The seminar will support up to eight Rutgers Faculty Fellows and up to four Graduate Fellows from the New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark campuses. Seminar fellows are expected to attend all Thursday morning seminar meetings during Fall and Spring Semesters 2017-2018, provide a paper for discussion in the seminar, and open a seminar session with an extended response to another scholar’s paper.

Graduate students will receive a $5,000 stipend for the year as seminar fellows. Faculty fellows will receive either $4,000 in research support or a one-course teaching release for one semester to enable them to participate in the year-long seminar. In the latter case, departments will be reimbursed for instructional replacements at the minimum contractual PTL rate. Financial arrangements will be made in advance of the seminar with the department chairs and/or appropriate deans.    

Applications should be received at the IRW by Thursday, February 23, 2017. All decisions of the selection committee are final. 2017-2018 Seminar Fellows will be notified by Friday March 3, 2017. Please contact IRW at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions or would like more information.

 

 


2017-18 Seminar Call and Application

IRW Seminar

 

seminar3

 Feminist In/Security: Vulnerability, Securitization, and States of Crisis

The Institute for Research on Women (IRW) announces its twentieth annual interdisciplinary seminar, “Feminist In/Security: Vulnerability, Securitization, and States of Crisis.” We live in a time of fear, when “security” has become a keyword, promising to alleviate threats of violence at home and abroad. Securitization has also become big, transnational business. Techniques, methods, and technologies of securitization are mobile and adaptable, and they travel alongside experts and expertise within a global market that brings together various—and sometimes surprising—actors. During the 2016-17 academic year, IRW will look at questions of international and domestic security from a range of feminist and queer perspectives. How might feminist and queer analyses and methods help us better understand regional, international, and transnational crises—from Ebola to the spread of ISIS to the mass movement of refugees? How do concepts such as homonationalism (Puar) or methods derived from “queer intellectual curiosity” (Weber) disrupt conventional understandings of sexuality, power, statehood, and international politics?

Feminist and queer scholarship have challenged and re-conceptualized many of the key assumptions of international security discourse, critiquing mainstream debates and revisiting constructs, including political realism (Tickner, Peterson), militarism (Enloe), post colonialism (Alexander, Talpade Mohanty), and human rights (Thoreson, Aradau). Influenced by feminist scholars and activists, the United Nations has broadened its interpretation of security, incorporating aspects of human security, such as freedom from rape, environmental degradation, and poverty, into a definition typically associated with the territorial integrity and autonomy of states. Yet despite its lip-service to gender equity, the UN’s approach often conceals gender-based injustices (including those related to gender identity and expression) and regularly ignores the intersectionality of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and legal status. Indeed, gender is often introduced into studies of international and human security in ways that are trivial and tokenistic rather than addressing the complex realities of vulnerable subjects globally. Although these approaches aim at securing women or sexual minorities, technologies and theories of securitization are often articulated through class, racial, and gender difference. Old problems gain new descriptions: under- and unemployed young men, for example, are no longer threats to the health of a national economy but become security threats (Amar).

At the level of the state, feminist and queer scholars and activists have used the concept of security to critically examine a variety of issues, including mass incarceration, profiling, domestic violence, and sex work. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement developed an explicitly feminist analysis of state violence under white supremacy and the ways communities of color are acutely susceptible to police brutality. Within a transnational context, scholars have demonstrated how the migration apparatus of the United States inflicts violence and terror on migrant families, often in the name of “security” for the homeland (Schmidt Camacho, Golash-Boza). Trans Studies scholars have noted similarities between the policing of national borders and the policing of genders, and described how gender-nonconforming bodies can disrupt systems of surveillance utilized in the name of national security (Aizura, Beauchamp). Indeed, surveillance technologies are increasingly used both to terrorize women and to profile populations of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent, resulting in heightened surveillance and the increasing vulnerability and criminalization of already marginalized communities. Yet while vulnerability can prove dangerous, “brittle,” or insecure, scholars also note its potential to reorient relationships between self and others, creating generative spaces for feminist interventions through solidarity and resistance (Ahmed, Butler).

We invite applications from faculty and advanced graduate students (ABD status required) whose projects explore aspects of our theme. Such studies may examine any time period(s) or geographical location(s) and be rooted in any disciplinary or interdisciplinary approach(es). Some possible topics relevant to the seminar theme include, but are not limited to:

-- Cybersecurity
-- Vulnerability and grievability
-- Precarity
-- Black Lives Matter
-- Masculinities, secularization, and crisis
-- Tourism and leisure studies
-- Economic development
-- International relations theory
-- Border studies
-- Migration
-- Human trafficking
-- Refugees and asylum
-- The carceral state
-- Hurricane Sandy and human security
-- Latin American financial crises
-- Food systems
-- Governance and biopolitics
-- Trauma, fear and its multigenerational legacies
-- Domestic violence
-- Militarism
-- Virality
-- Settler/colonial studies
-- Terrorism/the war on terror
-- Environmental threats

Individuals from all disciplines, schools, and programs on all Rutgers campuses are welcome to apply. We invite applicants from a wide range of backgrounds, including the natural sciences and engineering, humanities, social sciences, arts, medicine, public health, education, business, social work, information technology, public policy, law, and other fields. We also welcome proposals from Rutgers-based writers and activists.

The seminar will support up to eight Rutgers Faculty Fellows and up to four Graduate Fellows from the New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark campuses. Seminar fellows are expected to attend all Thursday morning seminar meetings during Fall and Spring Semesters 2016-2017, provide a paper for discussion in the seminar, and open a seminar session with an extended response to another scholar’s paper.

Graduate students will receive a $5,000 stipend for the year as seminar fellows. Faculty fellows will receive either $4,000 in research support or a one-course teaching release for one semester to enable them to participate in the year-long seminar. In the latter case, departments will be reimbursed for instructional replacements at the minimum contractual PTL rate. Financial arrangements will be made in advance of the seminar with the department chairs and/or appropriate deans.    

The deadline for applications has been extended to Friday, February 5, 2016. All decisions of the selection committee are final. 2016-2017 Seminar Fellows will be notified by Friday February 26, 2016. Please contact IRW at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions or would like more information.

 


2016-17 Seminar Call and Application

IRW Seminar

 

seminar3

The Perils of Populism: Feminist Conversations

The Institute for Research on Women (IRW) announces its twenty-first annual interdisciplinary seminar, “The Perils of Populism: Feminist Conversations.” A rightwing populism that scapegoats society’s most vulnerable populations is emerging across the west and enjoying growing political power. Drawing upon age-old themes of racial resentment, such movements pose nationalism as the solution to economic and social malaise. In the United States, the resurgence of populism has resulted in a dramatic rise of violence, harassment, and hate speech directed against immigrants, people of color, Muslims, Jews, LGBT people and other marginalized communities. How can a feminist lens diagnose the current political moment, and help us to move beyond it? What, if anything, can we learn from the ways feminists have challenged reactionary populism in Europe, as well as in South Asia, the Middle East and Latin America? Might feminism help us combat hatred and despair and move toward a more just future?

As observers have argued, globalization, growing social inequality, the changing media universe, and other factors contribute to the rise of reactionary populist movements. Though not always explicitly articulated, gender plays a central role as well, as it does in all aspects of political life. Gender shapes how the powerful mobilize, how social issues are framed, and whose narratives—and lives—count. Gender also intersects with race, sexuality, nationality, and class in organizing support for such movements, and resistance to them. Rage against the political system is frequently articulated in gendered terms as a defense of hegemonic forms of masculinity, reinforcing gender binaries and shunning gender transgression.

Feminist analyses have helped identify strategies for organizing, movement building, and the pursuit of policy change. Some feminists suggest that in order to oppose growing reactionary political tendencies, women must be elected to public office. Others have mobilized around salient gender-related issues, such as reproductive rights, employment equity, sexual harassment, and violence. Still others have played leading roles in movements with broader political objectives, from the LGBT movement to Black Lives Matter. Feminism has helped scholars and activists conceptualize powerful visions of a more just world. In the 2017-18 IRW seminar we will build upon this important work, looking specifically at the roles feminist knowledge and praxis can play in a period of rightwing populism. 


2017-18 Seminar Fellows
2017-18 Seminar Schedule

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