Each year, IRW's distinguished lecture series presents a variety of talks showcasing interdisciplinary work on women, gender and sexuality by a variety of eminent speakers. The lecture series revolves around an annual theme that is also shared by our interdisciplinary seminar and undergraduate learning community. In 2015-16 our annual theme is "Poverty."

Thursday, September 17, 2015
"Poverty Wars, 1964 to the Present: From the War on the War on Poverty to the Global Movement for a Living Wage"
Annelise Orleck, Dartmouth College

A Orleck

“Poverty Wars, 1964 to the Present: From the War on the War on Poverty to the Global Movement for a Living Wage” will examine the evolution of discourse around poverty in the U.S. as it has been shaped from the bottom up, by community organizations and welfare rights groups in the 1960s and 70s and by the global movement for a living wage in the 21st century -- fast food workers, home health care workers, Walmart workers and those who make or pick the products sold in discount retail outlets (garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia, berry pickers in California and Baja California.) It will examine the interplay between policy-making and grass-roots protest, between social media as used by living wage protesters and corporate media coverage of the ongoing poverty wars.

Thursday, October 1, 2015
"Defending Human Mobility: The Gendered Face of Poverty and Immigration Law Enforcement in North America"
Alicia Schmidt Camacho, Yale University

Alicia Schmidt CamachoMy talk addresses the profoundly gendered dynamics of current militarized border surveillance and immigration enforcement practices in North America. During this period of rapid economic and political integration, regional governments have met the resulting increase in migration with denial and expanded practices of social control. By examining the migratory circuit that links Central America, Mexico and the U.S. as an integrated whole, I demonstrate how state policies have made female migrants vulnerable to unprecedented state and criminal violence.   The precipitous rise in gender violence experienced in the region since the mid- 1990s, I argue, is symptomatic of a broader pattern of punitive state policies that criminalize poverty and serve to expel insecure populations from the protected spheres of citizenship and civic life.

Thursday, October 22, 2015
"The Making of a Transnational Expenditure Cascade: What Happens When Poor Immigrants Return Home to Spend and Give Money"
Hung Cam Thai, Pomona College

Hung Cam ThaiThis lecture focuses on the social and personal sides of monetary flows in the Vietnamese diaspora. With few exceptions, the private use of money has been considered too personal and too mysterious for migration scholars to tackle unless they examine “development issues” such as daily household expenditures. I focus on low-wage working Vietnamese immigrants in the United States, who make up a significant portion of the aging Vietnamese diaspora, but also pay equal attention to their left-behind family members in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). The immigrant family members generally work in precarious jobs with little stability. They generally live with “insufficient funds,” yet regularly send money back to Vietnam as well as spend it lavishly when they make return visits. In this lecture, I document why they give such generous financial support to their left-behind family members and why they spend beyond their means upon return visits, despite living in precarious situations abroad.

Thursday, November 12, 2015
"Disparate Outcomes by Design: How America Built High Poverty Neighborhoods Through Redlining"
designing the WE (dtW uses design tools and methods to co-create strategies centered on social change)

dtW image-01Structural inequalities in housing, education, income, criminal justice and health are far from separate issues. Many are rooted in a deep and entangled history of policies like Redlining, along with other practices and processes that remain unrevealed and misunderstood. Undesign the Redline is an explorative and visioning framework for addressing the historic transformations of place and race in America, building a robust conversation around the continuing effects of this history on populations often cut out of opportunities for success, and devising multi-stakeholder strategies to generate transformative models for change.

Thursday, January 28, 2016
"The Radical Potential of Human Rights"
Radhika Balakrishnan, Rutgers-New Brunswick

radhika balakrishnanWhen most people hear the words “human rights,” they immediately think of torture, unlawful detention, censorship and political oppression. But human rights also encompass “economic and social rights”—the right to work, the right to health, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to food, and the right to housing and shelter, among others. It is precisely these rights that were most threatened by the global economic crisis and that provide the most compelling basis for an alternative set of policies. But human rights are often criticized by those on the left as being individualistic and therefore feeding into neoliberal ideologies that cast the challenge of social justice narrowly, in terms of protecting and advancing individual freedoms. But the full realization of economic and social rights requires a strong state, international cooperation and robust social institutions. Securing individual rights demands collective action and responsibility.

Thursday, February 11, 2016
"The Miracle on Cooper Street: A Case Study of Community Transformation and Engaged Scholarship"
Gloria Bonilla Santiago, Rutgers-Camden

Gloria Bonilla SantiagoI will describe and analyze the establishment and accomplishments of LEAP Academy in one of America’s poorest and most violent cites, Camden, NJ. I will shared my personal and professional struggles as a Latina scholar  from an impoverished and working class background, surviving and fighting for respect in an academic world that at times did not value racial and ethnic diversity. Those experiences forged a dream of transforming a poor urban community through education.  I will narrate an inspiring account that shows how one determined individual can make a profound difference I the lives of at risk children and their communities. It presents a working model for charter schools, while at the same time admitting that LEAP is a work in progress. Most of all it describes an inspiring institution that has seen many young people break the cycle of poverty, graduate from high school, succeed in college, and go on to live productive lives.

Thursday, March 3, 2016
"Black Girls and Ethnography Beyond Love and Struggle”
Aimee Meredith Cox, Fordham University

Aimee CoxRecent events involving state violence and active mobilized resistance within Black communities in the United States has made visible the political work of teenage and young adult Black women. Active resistance as well as political theorizing and practice among Black girls is, however, is not a recent development or new social phenomenon. This talk will center on over a decade and a half of ethnographic research with young Black women in Detroit, MI and Newark, NJ to address the ways Black girls are at the forefront of acts that support and protect their communities while transforming the spaces and institutions that threaten Black life. Their work occurs every day in spaces we are encouraged to ignore and through practices that are often overlooked or demeaned. Through theory grounded in ethnography, we can trace how Black girls’ political work moves beyond a naïve or impotent mandate to love, or the imperative to simply survive.

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 2015-16 Distinguished Lecture Series Poster