Gwendolyn Beetham, Douglass Residential College, Rutgers-New Brunswick
“Women's Studies and Contingency: Between Exploitation and Resistance”

Gwendolyn Beetham How do Women's Studies faculty and feminists working in a variety of disciplines reconcile their feminist labor politics with the need to grow their programs and departments under the edicts of the corporate university, particularly when relying upon contingent labor to do so? And how do institutional understandings of poverty – who is poor and why – fit into the picture? This project will draw from three sessions on feminist contingency at the 2014 annual National Women’s Studies Association Conference (NWSA) and explore lessons learned about silence-breaking and collectivizing, inequity, privilege, shame and guilt.

Sharon Bzostek, Sociology, Rutgers-New Brunswick
“Poverty Reduction Among Single Mothers: The Role of New Partners in Fragile Families”

Sharon Bzostek Parental relationship dissolution is known to cause financial strain and hardship in many families, with children in single parent households far more likely than those living with two parents to experience poverty during their childhoods. Through the IRW seminar, I hope to study resource pooling and financial decision-making strategies among mothers with unmarried births, who are especially likely to experience both financial hardship and relationship instability. My analyses will identify differences in financial management processes between re-partnered mothers and those living with their children’s biological fathers, and the extent to which such differences are related to differences in financial security and stability in these families.

Eliot Graham, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers-New Brunswick
“If You Don’t Speak Up, You Won’t Never Get Heard’: Civic Implications of ‘No-Excuses’ Behavior Management Practices”

Eliot GrahamEquitable schooling for low-income children is often defined exclusively in terms of academic achievement. In contrast, this ethnographic study asks how low-income students are being prepared—or not—as citizens who are able to push for structural change. It investigates the civic consequences of “no-excuses” behavior management—school-wide behavioral systems which are designed to combat the “chaotic” effects of living in poverty, and which are increasingly viewed as representing best practice for low-income, urban students of color. This project highlights the voices and experiences of young people attending a “no-excuses” school, and focuses attention on the interconnection between schooling practices, relationships to institutional authority, and the maintenance or disruption of structural inequality.

Andrea Hetling, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers-New Brunswick
“Permanent Supportive Housing as Anti-Poverty Policy for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence: A Case Study”

Andrea Hetling Using a longitudinal, qualitative research design, the project explores residents’ experiences with a new permanent supportive housing program targeted to low-income and previously homeless survivors of intimate partner violence and their children. Based in a feminist perspective, the project considers how survivors can and should participate in shaping and perhaps operating new permanent housing models, and challenges the assumption that survivors are the consumers of services and providers are the shapers and deliverers of services.

Bonnie Jerome D'Emilia, Nursing, Rutgers-Camden
“The Effects of Poverty on Breast Cancer Screening, Treatment and Patient Outcomes”

Bonnie Jerome D'EmiliaThe burdens related to breast cancer are substantial for low income women. An understanding of how the patient and provider-related barriers to screening and treatment that result from poverty affect the care of low income women can help us to improve access to care in the United States. These findings can also enable us to understand how women in extremely underserved, infrastructure-poor parts of the world can be helped to find appropriate screening and treatment services that will make breast cancer a less uniformly terminal diagnosis in low income countries.

Sean Mitchell, Sociology and Anthropology, Rutgers-Newark
“The Politics of Poverty and the Rise of Brazil's ‘New Middle Class’”

Sean MitchellContemporary Brazil has been heralded internationally in the early 21st century for its economic growth and reductions to poverty and inequality; yet Brazil has also achieved international notoriety for its pervasive social repression of the poor, often legitimated in terms of a fight against drugs and criminality. This project investigates these tensions through a study of the rise of Brazil's “New Middle Class,” now widely regarded as making up half the population in a nation that, until recently, was often characterized as the world’s most unequal.

Donna Murch, History, Rutgers-New Brunswick
“Crack in Los Angeles: Policing the Crisis and the War on Drugs”

donnamurchSMALLDuring my fellowship year at Institute for Research on Women, I plan to complete a chapter for my current book project, Crack in Los Angeles: A Social History. This historical monograph centers on Los Angeles’ War on Drugs from the 1960s through the late 1990s and on the multi-faceted effects of the “crack crisis” on the city’s African American and Latino populations. I plan to explore why Los Angeles became so pivotal to the crack economy and the national War on Drugs; the complex role of different agencies of the state within this process; and how local activists, politicians and ordinary people mobilized against the “crack crisis” and the punitive War on Drugs.

Rosemary Ndubuizu, Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers-New Brunswick
“‘You Can’t Just Pile Poor People On Top of Each Other’: Public Officials’ Relentless Pursuit of Creative Destruction through Doublespeak”

Rosemary small imageIn the second chapter of my dissertation, I look at how narratives of black deviance and deficiency (such narratives as “concentrated poverty,” “the undeserving poor,” and the “culture of poverty”) articulate with the political economic processes of urban capitalism and creative destruction. Using discourse analysis to frame my critical reading of Washington D.C.’s legislative hearings on affordable housing reforms, I argue that black residential spaces are privileged sites of neoliberal creative destruction because of their presumed gendered and racialized violability. I look at how city officials discursively identify contemporary black female-headed homes as deviant and deficient and thus worthy of demolition, privatization, and character surveillance. Further, I demonstrate how local political actors often position themselves as the vanguard of a modern day housing justice movement, appropriating civil rights and integrationist language, which helps discursively obscure these actors' investment in the neoliberal restructuring of majority-black settlement spaces. 

Zakia Salime, Sociology, Rutgers-New Brunswick
“Rural Women and Land Rights Movements: The Case of the Soulaliyyates in Morocco”

zakia salimeNo movement has marked the Moroccan political landscape in the past decade as much as the soulaliyyates, or tribal women, from both Arab and Amazigh ethnic backgrounds. The term “soulaliyyates” is used to refer to a decade-old grassroots nationwide mobilization by women to challenge exclusive men’s rights to communal land. In this project, I want to revisit women’s struggle to build a land rights movement, and examine its impact on the preservation of the commons and the slowing down of the speed of privatization and disintegration of rural communities. 

Mark Wasserman, History, Rutgers-New Brunswick
“Revolutionary War and the Poor: Mexico, 1910-1920”

mwassermanThe Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) cost the lives of two million Mexicans and caused widespread damages. Since most Mexicans in 1910 lived in poverty, the upheaval profoundly affected the poor. My project will first explore the reasons why poor people rebelled. Second, I will examine how the revolution affected the lives of everyday people. I will explore the experiences of soldiers, almost all poor peasants or workers, many conscripted. Of particular interest were the gendered aspects of the struggle. Women fought as soldiers and they also accompanied the armies comprising their supplies and medical corps. Third, I will look at the lives of non-combatants who bore the brunt of disruptions and damage. War especially changed gender dynamics, with women left at home to manage plots of land and families (sometimes as widows).

Lindsey Whitmore, Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers-New Brunswick
“Practicing Queer Economies of Care”

Lindsey WhitmoreThis project seeks to unpack an implicit dialogue between discourses of care and practices of institutional management that shape lived conditions of poverty. Drawing on personal experiences with working class poverty and familial cycles of addiction and on work in rural peer recovery communities in Western Massachusetts, I ask how subjects enmeshed in systems of economic vulnerability develop and maintain non-institutional, oppositional economies of care in order to survive. This critical exploration of care ultimately traces the complexities of having and caring for bodies that are framed as disposable.

 Additional Seminar Participants

Maya Mikdashi, IRW/WGS Mellon Fellow, Rutgers-New Brunswick
“Sex and Sectarianism: Citizenship, Secularism and Religion in Lebanon”

maya mMy research is broadly concerned with exploring the ways that people organize, govern, and create meaning. What interests me most is the relationship between law and individual and group identity. I have conducted research in Lebanon, a country with eighteen legally recognized religious sects and fifteen different religious personal status laws. Each of these laws legislates “the family” differently, and my research examines the different gendered subject positions that such a legal system produces. In my work I seek to understand and relate how historical, economic, and religious factors inflect law, and how the law, in turn, inflects and transforms secular and religious practices of life in contemporary Lebanon.

Sara Perryman, IRW Undergraduate Learning Community Coordinator
“Eco-Sensoriums and Geographies of Risk: Detroit, Michigan’s Affective Futurity”

Sara Perryman My dissertation seeks to theorize race and sexuality as affective experience in the context of postindustrial Detroit, Michigan. By putting feminist postcolonial scholarship in conversation with recent work in geophilosophy, new materialisms, affect theory, and the posthumanities, I argue that asymmetrical encounters with the earth over time shape urban topographies and actually produce the experience of identity as events. Racial and sexual difference emerge when certain bodies become viscous as they associate with landscapes, objects, music, money, states of mind, and so on. By tracing relational tensions between settler colonialism, territorialization, ‘natural resources,’ and eco-politics, I aim to better understand how technology, ecology, and affect overlap and cross-pollinate in Detroit’s fractious topography.

Nicole Fleetwood
Director, Institute for Research on Women

Sarah Tobias
Associate Director, Institute for Research on Women