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Featured Speakers

Keynote Address: bell hooks
Friday, November 14, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Dr. bell hooks is a noted cultural critic, commentator, and feminist, is Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies at Berea College. Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, she has chosen the lower case pen name bell hooks, based on the names of her mother and grandmother, to emphasize the importance of the substance of her writing as opposed to who she is. Prior to accepting the Distinguished Professorship at Berea College and returning to Kentucky, bell hooks has taught at Yale, Oberlin College, and City College of New York. Educated at UC- Santa Cruz, UW- Madison and Stanford, Dr. bell hooks is the author of over thirty books, many of which have focused on issues of social class, race, and gender. In 2013, she published the award-winning poetry collection Appalachian Elegy and the critical text,Writing Beyond Race. Most recently, hooks published “Dig Deep: A Response to Lean In” which appeared as a special feature for The Feminist Wire. She continues to cultivate intellectual community dialogues by hosting dynamic events through The bell hooks Institute. 



The Imperial Politics of Nation-States: U.S., Israel, and Palestine
Saturday, November 15

Through her activism and scholarship over the last decades, Angela Davis has been deeply involved in our nation’s quest for social justice. Her work as an educator – both at the university level and in the larger public sphere – has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender equality. She is the author of nine books and is Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz.

In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early seventies as a person who spent eighteen months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.”

She is a founding member Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. Internationally, she is affiliated with Sisters Inside, an abolitionist organization based in Queensland, Australia that works in solidarity with women in prison.

Having helped to popularize the notion of a “prison industrial complex,” she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a 21st century abolitionist movement.


Kamala Kempadoo is Professor in the Department of Social Science at York University, Canada,and affiliated with the graduate programs in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies, Social and Political Thought, Political Science, and Development Studies. She is a former director of theGraduate Program in Social and Political Thought.  Specialized in sociology, race and ethnic studies, and transnational feminist theory, her research examines the global sex trade, human trafficking, and sexual-economic relations.

Her publications include Global Sex Workers (1998); Sun, Sex and Gold: Tourism and Sex Work in the Caribbean (1999); Sexing the Caribbean: Gender Race and Sexual Labour (2004) and Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered (2005/ 2012), a journal issue on Caribbean feminist research methods with the Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, and the online collection From Bleeding Hearts to Critical Thinking: Exploring the Issue of Human Trafficking
(2012). She serves on boards of the Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, About Gender: International Journal of Gender Studies, and the Anti-Trafficking Review.

Kamala has lived and worked in Britain, the Netherlands, USA, several countries in the Dutch- and English-speaking Caribbean, and, since 2002, in Canada. She was Visiting Fellow at the University of Bergen in Norway in 2011 and at the University of the West Indies in Barbadosbetween 2010 and 2014.

Islah Jad
Birzeit University
• Islah Jad is a lecturer on gender issues and politics at the Women's Studies Institute and Cultural Studies Department of Birzeit University in the West Bank. She joined Birzeit in 1983, and is a founding member of its women’s studies program. She has written books and papers on the role of women in politics, Palestinian women and the relationships among them, Islam, and NGOs. Dr. Jad is also a consultant on gender issues to the United Nations Development Programme and is co-author of the UN's Arab Development Report on Women's Empowerment and author of two books:
• 1-Palestinian Female Headed Households, MAS, Rmallah, 2002.
• 2-Women at the Crossroads: The Palestinian Women's Movement between Nationalism, Secularism and Islamism, MUWATIN-The Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy, Ramallah. Palestine June 2008. Second edition reprinted by Dar al Farabi, Beirut, 2013.
• Dr. Jad received her Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 2004


Rebecca Vilkomerson is the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, the leading Jewish organization working for a a just peace in Israel and Palestine based on the principles of equality, human rights, and international law. Rebecca has been an active member of JVP since 2002, and lived in Israel with her family from 2006-2009. In 2010, the Forward recognized her as one of the 50 most influential Jewish leaders in the U.S. and in 2014 the Forward named her one of "14 Women to Watch in 2014."