News & Updates: NWSA History

NWSA, A History 2006 – 27th National Conference

Friday, May 22, 2020  
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Cover of the 2006 conference program book

27th National Conference | "Locating Women's Studies: Formations of Power and Resistance" | June 15-18 | Oakland, California

Program Highlights

NWSA's 27th National Conference in 2006 introduced a number of new programming mediums that allowed attendees to engage with the conference in different ways. The new Networking Receptions gave space for attendees "to meet [their] peers, and exchange ideas and experiences." Along with a "Meet the Governing Council Members" reception, there were dedicated receptions for students, new faculty, international members, center administrators, and women of color. The conference also featured a series called "Critical Issues in Women's Studies," which "provide[d] opportunities for small groups of conference participants to exchange ideas on theoretical, political, or strategic matters of interest to women's studies practitioners." The two-and-a-half-hour sessions covered topics like "Teaching Race, Gender, Ethnicity in Transnational Perspectives," "Fat Politics: Becoming Conscious of – and Liberated from – Weight-based Prejudice," and Interrogating, "Including, Powersharing [sic] in Women's Studies and NWSA: Political and Organizational Challenges."

Another programming addition – Presidential Sessions – is one that NWSA has continued today. Organizers of the sessions "intended to highlight emerging trends in feminist theory and the field of women's studies or to revisit central questions that have long shaped the field." Those questions manifested in session on local activism, transgender and critical race theories, and the history and future of women's studies. While not new, the 2006 conference also hosted an embedded conference, "Empire, Global Political Conflicts, and Resistance." These panels and workshops featured conversations on topics like the "Ethnographic Engagement of Palestinian Women's Resistance in Everyday Life," "Decolonizing Feminist Pedagogy," and "Resisting, Recreating, and Rewriting Women's Studies: Revisioning Power and Privilege within a Global Context." This subconference also included a plenary by the same name. Below is information about the the embedded and general conferences' plenaries.

    "Empire, Global Political Conflicts, and Resistance"

    Zillah Eisenstein – "Sexual Decoys in Imperial Democracy"
    I will argue that nothing is what it appears as democracy in the at great risk. Sexual and racial decoys make it harder to see the right-wing shifts. I argue that this particularly militarist moment disguises itself, unconscionably in women's rights discourse.

    Julia Sudbury – "Globalized Punishment, U.S. Empire, and the Challenge of Activist Scholarship"
    This presentation maps the emergence of the transnational prison-industrial complex, and explores the relationship between feminist scholarship and activism, and the growing global prison abolitionist movement. The paper examines the critical function of prisons, jails and detention centers in creating a world fit for global capital and suggests that our anti-imperialist visions need to include a commitment to ending all forms of gendered state violence - including incarceration.

    "Mothering as Resistance/Activism/Social Change"

    Andrea O'Reilly – "Rocking the Cradle; Thoughts on Motherhood, Feminism, and the Possibility of Empowered Mothering"
    The oppressive and the empowering dimensions of maternity, first identified by Adrienne Rich have been the focus of feminist scholarship on motherhood over the last three decades. While feminist research on motherhood has focused on many topics, these studies have been informed and shaped by larger inquiries; namely, how do we challenge patriarchal motherhood?; how do we create feminist mothering? My talk will explore these questions. In particular, I will examine how we may challenge and change patriarchal motherhood by way of a theory and practice of empowered maternity.

    Gwendolyn Mink – No presentation title or abstract

    "Feminist Science Studies"

    Banu Subramaniam – "The Roots of Coincidence: Feminism, Nature, and the Politics of Purity"
    This talk explores the convergence of rhetoric around the "natural" emerging from the political left and right, feminists and non feminists alike. Using several case studies, the talk describes the racialized discourses surrounding the new reproductive technologies, genetically modified food and invasive species, and examines the dense traffic of meanings between the worlds of natures and cultures.

    Jane Zimmer Daniels – "What Do We Know? Where Do We Go?"
    Efforts to increase the representation and advancement of women in the sciences and engineering began with legally mandated strategies to increase the number of women in these fields. Often these strategies required women to develop coping skills and uncharacteristic behaviors to survive. More recently, changes to policy and practice are creating educational and work environments that better support the participation and advancement of women. More progressive and inclusive solutions are emerging every day.

    Donna Nelson – "Nelson Diversity Surveys on Representation of Women in Science and Engineering"
    Highlights of the Nelson Diversity Surveys demonstrate the low representation of women among tenured and tenure track faculty in 15 science and engineering disciplines at US research universities. These faculty data, disaggregated by race, by rank, and by gender, are compared to representation of women among US PhD recipients in corresponding disciplines, and show that the pipeline is often underutilized.

See the full program here

From the NWSA President

Dear Colleague,

"Locating Women's Studies: Formations of Power and Resistance" promises to be one of the most exciting and stimulating NWSA conferences ever! The conference is packed with sessions that will stimulate and engage you. We had an almost 50% increase in proposals this year and our Program Selection Committee (chaired by Barbara Scott Winkler) chose a wide variety of high quality panels, workshops, and poster sessions. In addition, there is an embedded conference, "Empire, Global Political Conflicts, and Resistance", organized by the local conference committee led by Local Conference Chair Betsy Eudey. Throughout the conference, you will discover new features, such as Critical Issues, networking, and Presidential sessions. Our primary aim is to offer something for everyone, welcoming diverse Women's Studies practitioners at every level and many locations.

I'd like to offer a special welcome to those of you new to NWSA.You are here to share your knowledge and expertise with others and to gain new insights and information in return. I'd like you to think about the fact that NWSA is the ONLY professional organization for the field of Women's Studies. This is your NWSA – and the conference can be your stepping stone to involvement in NWSA beyond the conference. I remember attending my first NWSA conference over a decade ago and with a little effort, I started making connections and, over the next few years, found multiple ways to extend my involvement in NWSA. I urge you to attend a business meeting of a caucus, task force, or interest group; meet with your regional group. Find a project or issue that interests you and get involved. This year we have a specific session set aside to meet the NWSA leadership, both current and incoming, along with a networking session for new faculty. This makes it easier for you to ask questions and get to know us and each other.

In addition to all the great sessions, we have a 2006 location with exciting opportunities for R & R! We are in the heart of the revitalized Old Oakland with dozens of great restaurants at all price levels within easy walking distance. On Friday, there is a terrific Farmers Market one block from the hotel. A fully accessible BART station is less than one block away and approximate time to downtown is less than 12 minutes. You can hop on the ferry and cross the bay, and then explore the shops and restaurants on the wharf, take a scenic trolley car ride to a BART station and be back at the hotel in under 15 minutes.

NWSA is on the move, entering a new era of professional leadership and national recognition. Whether you are a long-time or new member, it is time for you to help make this the organization all we know it can be. As I end my year as president, I am proud of what NWSAhas accomplished during a difficult period of national cut backs and backlash. Despite continued challenges to Women's Studies, NWSA stands strong and is positioned to improve the visibility and status of the field. This is your chance to be part of our continued success.

Come for the conference - stay with NWSA!

Best Wishes,
Judith Roy
NWSA President 2005-2006

NWSA Governance

Below are the 2006 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.

2006 Governance Members

See the rest of the history project here

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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.