News & Updates: NWSA History

NWSA, A History 2002 – 23rd National Conference

Tuesday, May 19, 2020  
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Cover of the 2002 conference program book

23rd National Conference | "Invest In Feminist Education" | June 13-16 | Las Vegas, Nevada

Program Highlights

The Program Administrator and Development Committee (PAD) and the Women's Centers Committee (WCC) (both of which began as Caucuses in the early 80's) have been integral parts of NWSA for decades, and the PAD and WCC Pre-Conferences have consistently shown up in programs for the NWSA National Conference since the early 90's. While the 2002 conference celebrated the 25th anniversary of NWSA's founding, it also celebrated 25 years of Women's Centers. With the conference's overall theme being "Invent in Feminist Education," these two pre-conferences shine thorough light on the development of the field as interdisciplinary within disciplined institutions. Below are some of the sessions from the 2002 PAD and WCC Pre-Conferences.

    "Getting On Course and Going the Distance: Women's Studies Scholarship, Activism, and Administration" (PAD Plenary)
    "Leveraging Community and University Resources to Support Women's Studies Programs" (PAD)
    "Program Development Through Coalition Building" (PAD)
    "Staying the Course in the Face of Conservative Backlash" (PAD)
    "The Strength of Solidarity: Bridging the Divide Between Women's Studies and Women's Centers" (PAD)
    "Safety in Academia: Models For Creating Safe Spaces On University Campuses For Women, LGBT, and Other 'Targeted Groups'" (WCC)
    "What We Love About Assessment: Women's Center Case Studies" (WCC)
    "Political Women, Political Power: Women's Centers in the 21" Century" (WCC)

And as usual, the conference's plenaries showcased the pressing conversations within not just the field but the feminist movement at a time of heightened right-wing backlash. Below are the plenaries' titles, abstracts, and speakers.

    "WSA: Women of All Colors Building an Inclusive Organization Together" Abstract: This plenary makes salient the ways in which feminists of all colors, through the efforts of individuals, caucuses, taskforces, and interest groups, have struggled and will continue the struggle to sustain an organization with the potential to transform itself: to move from being an entity that functions as a byproduct of a society dependent on structural and systematic inequality to one that intentionally constructs and celebrates organizational practices designed to dismantle inequalities.
    Beverly Guy-Sheftall – "Disloyalty to Whiteness: Practicing What We Preach"
    Aida Hurtado – "Toward an Embodied Feminism"
    Lisa Albrecht – "New Paradigms for Social Justice: 21st Century Feminisms at Work"

    "Body Politics"
    Abstract: The body is both a lived, material, historical, physiological object and a site upon which national and cultural norms, ideologies, expectations, values, laws, and practices are inscribed. What is the role of the body in feminism? How does feminism resist, recast, or reproduce dominant theories, images, and ideas about bodies? Catherine Holland – "Confessional Citizenship: Gender and Political Universalism in The Age of 'The Federalist'"
    Ann Russo – "White Innocence Accountability: Body Politics and Feminists Movements"
    Rosemarie Garland Thomson – "Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory"

    "Political Women and Political Power"
    Abstract: In 2000, because it was an election year, The Women's Review of Books devoted its annual double summer issue "to unraveling the tangle of questions surrounding the role of women in politics, both as voters and as our (potential) representatives in government." How do the realities of political women and political power play out across boundaries of nation, class, race, culture, and sexuality? This plenary seeks to tap the experience and expertise of women in politics in diverse roles-theorists, officeholders and aspirants, party workers, and grassroots activists-in an effort to frame the salient issues involved in that frequently invoked but little understood triad: women, power, and politics.
    Nadine Strossen – "The ACLU and Women's Rights"
    Ellie Smeal – "Maximizing the Political Power of Women's Movements"
    Sonali Kolhatker – "The Impact of U.S. Intervention on Afghan Women's Rights"

Conference Film Series

Below are some trailers (and in some cases, full videos) from films shown in the films series at the 2002 National Conference.

ABC Africa (2001)

Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 2001, 84 min. The first film to be shot by masterful Iranian director Abba Kiarostarni outside his homeland, it follows the work of the Ugandan Women's Effort to Save Orpbans in rural Uganda. His research/location scout turns into the film itself, an alternatingly joyous and devastating portrait of a generation of young Africans losing their battle with AIDS. The film has provoked passion- ate controversy it exploitative travelogue or honest kaleidoscope of the filmmaker/outsider eye penetrating one of the most hidden tragedies of our time?

A Day's Work, A Day's Pay (2002)

Dir. Kathy Leichter and Jonathan Skumick, 2002, 57 min. This film traces the personal and political evolution of three characters, Juan Galan successfully organizing workfare workers while battling demons of his own poverty-stricken childbood, Jackie Marte, who drops out of college to raise her two children as the city forces her into the Work Experience program, and Jose Nicolau, overcoming his timidity as he learns to organize against workfare. The film tracks the three- year effort to pass two critical pieces of legislation, as well as hones in on Jackie's personal struggle to be treated like a human being and not a statistic ...a powerful film on the impact of social policy on individuals and their effort to transform themselves from victim to activist.

Big Mama

Dir. Tracey Seretean, 40 min. This film draws attention to a phenomenon that is only beginning to be documented: grandparents who are raising their children's children. This is the Academy Award winning story that captures the essence of one grandmother's struggle to raise her orphaned grand- son. Music by Bobby McFerrin.

Blossoms of Fire

Dir. Maureen Gosling, 74 min. From the editor/producer of Les Blank's award-winning films, Maureen Gosling brings us a passionate, sensitive symphony of sound and color from the famed Zapotec women of Mexico. Once dubbed by Elle Magazine a 'lost matriarchy,' filmmaker Gosling and her crew find a society much more complex. It's a whirlwind tour of fiestas, markets and homes, where intimate portrayals lead to larger ponderings on globalization, sexual tolerance and the meaning of matriarchy.

Daughter From Danang (2002)

Dir. by Vicente Franco and Gail Dolgin, 2002, 80 min. A Vietnamese mother and her Amerasian daughter are reunited after 22 years. Heidi Bub (aka Mai Thi Hiep), a young Vietnamese American woman from Tennessee, always dreamed of a joyful reunion. Unlike the cliche happy endings associated with most reunion stories, DAUGHTER FROM DANANG tensely un- folds as cultural differences and the years of separation take their toll. Journeying from the Vietnam War to Pulaski, Tennessee, this movie is a complex and multi-layered film about a war in the past and making peace with the present. While many documentaries have been made about the Vietnam War, few have focused on the personal stories of civilians, particularly women and children, whose lives were forever changed by choices made during times of chaos and panic. DAUGHTER FROM DANANG won the top documentary award at Sundance this year, and will be broadcast on American Experience on PBS in 2003.

Iroquois Women (The Three Sisters) (2001)

Dir. Pat Ferrarro, 2001, 10 min. This film discusses Iroquois women's critical role in agriculture, and the sacred meaning and value of 'three sisters,' corn, bean and squash. Features the voices of several women who consider the role of women in Iroquois society, including clan mother Audrey Shenendoah (Onandaga) Joanne Shenandoah (Oneida) and Judy Swamp (Mohawk). Also features Peter Jemison (Seneca) and John Mohawk (Seneca).

Escuela (2002)

Dir. Hannah Weyer, 76 minutes, 2002 Escuela follows Liliana Luis over the course of her freshman year in high school. Liliana is a Mexican- American teenager, rushing straight into the turbulence of puberty as she straddles her Mexican heritage and 21st century American culture. Unlike other teenagers, Liliana faces many additional obstacles as one of eight children in a migrant farm worker family. During the school year her family moves three times, forcing her to start the arduous process of settling into classes, keeping up with school work and finding friends over and over again - a process she's experienced every school year, all her life. It's a game of catch-up that Liliana and her migrant peers are trapped in as their parents try to keep their families afloat through work on the agricultural circuit. As Liliana navigates the difficult terrains of high school, puberty and migrant life, her story opens a revealing and personal lens through which to view the complex issues surrounding education for migrant students and the public school system in which they inhabit.

If Women Ruled the World (2002)

If Women Ruled the World from Richard Karz on Vimeo.

Dir. Richard Karz, 2002, 120 min. Features an historic dinner party that took place June 23, 1999 in Washington, D.C. 's landmark Senate Caucus Room on Capitol Hill. The dinner was hosted by Canada's first and only female prime minister, the Honorable Kim Campbell, and the 19 guests were celebrated women from diverse cultural, ethnic, generational, and professional backgrounds coming together to share their experiences and observations as trailblazers in male dominated fields and to explore the prospects for full gender equity. The guests included Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Brown University President Ruth Simmons, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, General Clauclia Kennedy (the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. Army), feminist pioneer Betty Friedan, Elle magazine's editor-in-chief, Elaina Richardson, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, and supermodel Alek Wek, among others. The dinner discussion is an exceptionally frank, no-holds barred assessment of women's changing status and the persist- ing obstacles for genuine gender equity. The program is punctuated by background guest profiles, expert commentary, and behind-the-scenes vignettes that elaborate the issues discussed and place them in an historical context, including interviews with an un- precedented roster of the most accomplished women of our time, e.g., Madeleine Albright, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Liv Ullmann, Mamphela Ramphele, Queen Noor, Jane Goodall, Janet Reno, Andrea Mitchell, and Angelina Jolie, among others.

My Dirty Laundry, A Homemade Telenovela (2002)

Dirty Laundry from Erin PC on Vimeo.

Dir. Christina Ibarra, 2002, 15 min. A homemade telenovela, twelve year old Sandra finds herself in a culture clash when she is forced to participate in her cousin's quincenera. Dirty Laundry is a humorous look at border culture, Catholicism, puberty and the hidden pleasures of the spin cycle.

Obaachan's Garden (2001)

Dir. Linda Ohama, 2001, 94 min. In 1923, Asayo Murakami left Hiroshima and settled in a fishing village in Steveston, Be. Her family remembers a happy woman who sang, danced and nurtured a colorful flower garden, but underneath, the memory of what she left in Japan haunts her deeply. Delicately peeling back the layers of her grandmother Asayo's life, filmmaker Linda Ohama discovers a painful, buried past told to her by the now 103 year old woman, looking back on a life bracketed by the bombing of Hiroshima and the forced relocation of her family during WWII.

Senorita Extraviada (2002)

Dir. Lourdes Portillo, 2002, 74 min. Recipient of the Special Jury Prize in Documentary at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, Senorita Extraviada (Missing Young Woman), a new documentary by Lourdes Portillo, unfolds like the unsolved mystery that it examines the kidnapping, rape and murder of over 230 young women in Juarez, Mexico. Visually poetic, yet unflinching in its gaze, the film unravels the layers of complicity that have allowed these brutal murders to continue. Relying on what Portillo comes to see as the most reliable of sources-the testimonies of the families of the victims. Sefiorita Extraviada documents a two-year search for the truth in the underbelly of the new global economy. The result is a shocking and brutal portrait ofCiudad Juarez, "The City of the Future."

View From A Grain Of Sand (2002)

Work-in-progress screening, Dir. Meena Nanji, 2002, 10 min. Islam American Filmmaker Meena Nanji was invited to visit the sprawling refugee camps of Peshawar, Pakistan to witness the condition of Afghan women, six months prior to Sept. 11th, 2001. What she found there was devastating, yet little-known to the outside world. Yet when she returned in November of2001, the plight of the Afghan woman was world-renowned. The film introduces the very personal work of three women in the camps: a teacher, doctor and RAWA woman activist, addressing the day to day realities of their small worlds even as they are thrust onto the national stage. It is a work-in-progress, and is presented with the film- maker for discussion.

List of 2002 program committee members List of 2002 program committee members

See the full program here

From the NWSA President

Dear Conference Participants,

Welcome to the 25th NWSA conference in Las Vegas. On behalf of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas organizing committee, Conference Chair Ellen Cronan Rose, and the NWSA Plenary Committee, I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to this year's conference celebrating NWSA first quarter century of existence, the best evidence of our commitment to carry on with the goals and objectives of this organization. On a personal level, I have been connected with Women's Studies for about twenty years now, thank to some wonderful feminist friends I encountered upon my arrival in Columbia, Missouri. I became an active member of NWSA in 1995, when I attended my first NWSA conference at Skidmore. I was quite impressed with the intellectual dialogue, the debates, and the range of issues covered in the panels and plenaries. The debates now continue to address what feminists mean by 'interdisciplinarity,' interdisciplinary research and teaching methods, as well as the future of women's studies, the women's studies Ph.D., white privilege, women of color's theoretical contributions to feminist theories, international feminisms, third world feminisms, and western constructions of women in Islamic societies, among the most revisited. NWSA continues to provide a unique space (of our own) where we can read through its publications, debate and discuss through its conferences, and participate in U.S. Women's Studies programs to further our goals of developing new epistemologies and praxes. It is also a unique space to meet new people and make important new friends.

Let's make sure that by treasuring these attributes, we continue to maintain and preserve this organization that serves us and the goals that we all share well.

As you leaf through this program book, you will find information about our organization, its Constitution and By-laws, the names of members that are currently serving on the Governing Council, the Executive Council, Committee members, Caucuses and Task Force members as well. It also includes information on the services NWSA now provides to its membership. The 25th Anniversary Conference features the Women's Studies Program Administrator and Development Pre-Conference, the Women's Center Caucus Pre-Conference celebrating 25 years of Women's Centers existence, A Writers Series featuring thirteen writers and a Film Series featuring seventeen short and long films about women in several locations. This year the Embedded Conference entitled "Deconstructing Sin City" will focus on Las Vegas.

I want to call your attention to the scheduling of the plenaries panels, which will take place one on Friday and two on Saturday, marking a change in the customary scheduling.

My presidency will conclude at the end of the annual Membership Assembly, when I pass the gavel to Maria Gonzalez, president-elect. It has been a privilege to serve this organization as its main spokewoman. The experience has been enriching, challenging, and worth the effort.

Welcome all members, and those members with disabilities.whose extra effort in attending this annual event enriches our conference. Welcome all to work closely in sisterhood.

Magdalena Garcia Pinto–President 2001-2002

NWSA Governance

Below are the 2002 NWSA governance members, as well as the NWSA staff team. You can see the current Governing Council members, conference co-chairs, and staff members here.

2002 Governance Members 2002 Governance Members

See the rest of the history project here

Have any pictures, stories, or fun facts from past conferences? Let us know! Email us at

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NWSA Program Archives

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About the Writer

Victoria Agunod is the office assistant at the National Women's Studies Association, as well as an adjunct faculty member in the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies Program at DePaul University. Victoria received their BA and MA in Women's and Gender Studies at DePaul. They first attended NWSA in 2018 and presented their research on university students organizing for racial justice against the new alt-right galvanized by the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They joined the NWSA team the following year. Their teaching emphases are on women of color feminisms, racial justice movements and organizing, and neoliberal rhetorical and cultural influences.

Please note: The information compiled in this project comes from the archived conference programs at the University of Maryland, College Park.