Decolonizing Gender / Gendering Decolonization

Thursday, September 19, 2013
"Vision, Value and the Burden of Humanism"
Minoo Moallem, University of California-Berkeley

This paper focuses on the connection between vision and value in the naturalization and normalization of feminized exploitative labor since colonial modernity. Through the example of specific transnational commodities representing cultural and civilizational difference, I interrogate the linkage between commodity aesthetic, subjective sensuality and the spectacle of labor. I argue that while current discussions of Islam, Muslims, and the Islamic world are narrowly focusing on the realm of politics, there is a need to focus on commodities as they link culture and economy. While a number of discourses have mediated and mediatized the transnational circulation of commodities, I will specifically focus on humanism as a site of ‘imperiality.’ In this discourse, the benevolent and the violent are reconciled through the separation of labor from commodity and the investment of value in the image of a stranded female figure.

Thursday, October 24, 2013
"The Gendered Intimacies of Global Health"

Julie Livingston, Rutgers

This talk considers the massive and increasingly high-profile global health industry through the lens of nursing care. It argues that caregiving is a grounded instantiation of moral philosophy, one that reveals the human body to be a moral condition, and serious illness to be a relationship. Based on ethnographic work in a hospital in Botswana as a case from which to think about the gendered stakes and meanings of bodily care and the global crisis in nursing, the discussion resituates global health away from salvific narratives that rely on suffering strangers and technological solutions, and towards the social realities of labor, pain, and bodily vulnerability.

Thursday, November 14, 2013
"Are You Listening?: Tilted Pedagogies in Enclosed Spaces"

Marisa Belausteguigoitia, UNAM

Tilt: incline, displace from the axis, slant, give an oblique direction, generate an inclination, a slope.

Tilting pedagogies are operations which favor the friction that revolve learning and position it at the border with the body and its turns. With this I mean its contact with sexuality (as transit, as a suspended act), activism (as intervention) academia (as new archives) and art (as an incarnation of knowledge). I analyze the ways in which sexuality, activism, academia and art intervene inside enclosed spaces in three Mexican scenarios: prisons, the Zapatistas autonomous regions and the classroom. What is the kind of knowledge intended to be produced by tilting? What kind of practices implies the inclination towards suspended sexualities or sexualities in suspense, art and activism?

I use the phrase “Are you listening?,” an exclamation used by the Zapatistas in December 2012, to underline the hidden ways in which enclosed regions are not only surviving but transforming fear into outrage. In the Zapatistas autonomous regions (Los Caracoles or the Spirals) and also in a particular space claimed and redefined by imprisoned women in México City, spirals represent the re-appropriation of territory, body and desire through pedagogical and artistic work centered in one of the most important and creative art forms in Mexico: muralism. I discuss the ways in which the classroom may be inclined (tilted), placed in contact with the body and its emotions of outrage and desire through contact with these two pedagogical and artistic experiences.

Thursday, February 20, 2014
"The Four Figures of Sexuality: Sexuality, Power, Geontology"

Elizabeth Povinelli, Columbia University

As is well-known, Michel Foucault argued that four figures—the hysterical woman, the Malthusian couple, the masturbating child, and the perverse adult—marked the transition from discourses of alliance to discourses of sexuality even as they provided a foundation in which the biopolitical concept of population would operate. In other words, the four figures of sexuality mattered because they signaled and allowed a transition from one form of power to another. It is equally well-known that the first volume of The History of Sexuality was published while Foucault was developing his concept of biopolitics in a series of lectures stretching from 1975-79. These lectures culminated with Birth of Biopolitics in which Foucault attempted to understand the emergent phenomena of “the liberalism of our time.” This talk extends my discussion of late liberalism in Economies of Abandonment by examining how the contemporary crisis of climate change demands not merely new figures of sexuality but new models of late liberalism that shatter the frameworks of biopower.

Thursday, March 6, 2014
"Sticky Assignments: Trans-temporality and the (Historio) Graphic Securitization of Sex"

Zakia Salime, Rutgers

In this presentation I will focus on the public debates that took place over the suicide of Amina Filali in Morocco, in March 2012. Amina caused a public outcry when she took her life after she was wedded to her rapist. Amina’s suicide would have had a small impact on public sentiment and affect if it did not occur at the peak of the youth uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. It is not surprising then, to see Amina Filali’s individual act transformed into a societal cry that transgressed the geographical boundaries of the nation state. Amina’s suicide brought to the surface the intensity of frustrations that social media activists, feminist groups, and others have with the state and its masculinist moral order. This was the first time that a woman’s physical body and body parts were at the core of a heated public debate, revealing the rise of new subjectivities and subject positions, mediated by modern technologies ranging from TV shows to social media. Amina became the icon of the new ‘subjects of rights’, the youth and the frustrated, while enabling feminist groups to force their entry into the gated and well-guarded state legal system. This paper will offer a story of a revolution from its margins.

Thursday, April 10, 2014
"Can a Woman be a Chief"

Drucilla Cornell, Rutgers

In a controversial decision in 2011, one of the major tribes in South Africa selected a woman as chief through their royal consultation process. The royal family that lost the position not surprisingly challenged the decision, which went to the Constitutional Court. In this essay I discuss both the law and gender politics that have surrounded the decision of the tribe. I also focus on the Rural Women's submission, which powerfully argues that living customary law involves a completely different conception of law than dominant positivist conceptions in the Anglo-European world. I also reflect on what this case tells us about the recognition of policulturalism and legal pluralism in South Africa. Finally I see this case as crucial to understanding the substantive revolution taking place in South Africa in the last decade.

All talks are free and open to the public and will be held at the Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett Building, 162 Ryders Lane, Douglass Campus, Rutgers-New Brunswick at 4:30 p.m., preceded by a 4 p.m. reception.



Download the 2013-14 IRW poster featuring artwork by Fatimah Tuggar.

View the Distinguished Lecture Series Archive.