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Featured Speakers

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

For more than three decades, bell hooks (née Gloria Watkins) has been recognized internationally as a scholar, poet, author, and radical thinker. The dozens of books and articles she has published span several genres, including cultural and political analyses and critiques, personal memoirs, poetry collections, and children's books. Her writings cover topics of gender, race, class, spirituality, teaching, and the significance of media in contemporary culture. According to Dr. hooks, these topics must be understood as interconnected in the production of systems of oppression and class domination.

Dr. hooks has appeared in documentary films. She has been celebrated as one of our nation's leading public intellectuals by The Atlantic Monthly and listed as one of Utne Reader's "100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life." She is a charismatic speaker who divides her time between teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world.

When Dr. hooks published her first book, And There We Wept, in 1978, she released it under the name "bell hooks" for two reasons. The first was to honor her maternal grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks, whom she has described as being "known for her snappy and bold tongue." Secondly, and more broadly, the name, expressed in lowercase letters, de-emphasizes the author as person and instead focuses attention on the subject of her writing.

Dr. 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.

Plenary: Creating Justice: Caribbean Scholarship and Activisms
Friday, November 14, 2014, 12:45p - 2:15p
PRCC - Ballroom A (Third Floor)
Moderator: Angela Ginorio, University of Washington

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 StudiesAbout 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.


Ana Irma Rivera Lassén was born in Puerto Rico. She is a feminist activist, lawyer and women’s rights advocate. The themes of her research and activism are women’s rights, racism, sexual orientation discrimination, human rights, economic social and cultural rights and gender violence. In Puerto Rico, she is co-founder and activist of various organizations that work on these issues.

She has a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico, is a lawyer in private practice and teaches in various universities in Puerto Rico. She has been a columnist in newspapers, journal editor and has published articles, essays, stories and poetry in journals, anthologies and newspapers in Puerto Rico and abroad.

She published with Dr. Elizabeth Crespo Kebler Documentos del Feminismo en Puerto Rico: Facsímiles de la Historia. This book is about the feminist movements in the decade of 1970 in Puerto Rico and is an important contribution to the study of women’s history in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Latin America.

The Division of Gender Affairs of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America has recognized her as an expert in human rights, gender and race. She was president of the Puerto Rico Bar Association for 2012-2014.

Ana-Maurine Lara, PhD is an national award-winning novelist and poet. Her publications include Erzulie's Skirt (RedBone Press 2006), When the Sun Once Again Sang to the People (KRK Ediciones 2011), alongside numerous short stories and poems in featured anthologies and literary magazines. Her decade-long multi-genre project, Cantos, is set to be released in Janaury 2015. She has published numerous scholarly essays on topics engaging Afro-Latin@ and Afro-Diasporic queer identities and aesthetics. Ana-Maurine is currently Founding Director of Source Writing & Editing Services.

She recently completed her PhD in African American Studies, Anthropology & Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. Her graduate research focused on LGBT citizenship and the Catholic State.

Plenary: The Imperial Politics of Nation-States: U.S., Israel, and Palestine
Saturday, November 15, 2014
, 12:45p - 2:15p
PRCC - Ballroom A (Third Floor)
Chair/Moderator: Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Syracuse University

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.


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: Palestinian Female Headed Households (MAS, Rmallah, 2002) and 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."
Chandra Talpade Mohanty is Distinguished Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Dean’s Professor of the Humanities at Syracuse University. She is author of Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (2003), and co-editor of Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (1991), Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures (1997), Feminism and War: Confronting U.S. Imperialism, 2008), and The Sage Handbook on Identities (Sage Publications, 2010). She is a steering committee member of the Municipal Services Project , a transnational research and advocacy group on alternatives to privatization in the Global South, a founding member of the Democratizing Knowledge Collective at Syracuse University, and Coordinating Team member of the Future of Minority Studies Research Project ( Her current projects include developing a video archive of transnational feminist praxis, and a book project entitled Just Feminisms: Radical Knowledges, Insurgent Practices. Mohanty was a member of the “Indigenous and Women of Color Solidarity delegation to Palestine” in June 2011.