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NWSA, A History 2010 – 31st National Conference

Friday, May 29, 2020  
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Cover of the 2010 conference program book

31st National Conference | "Difficult Dialogues II" | November 11-14, 2010 | Denver, Colorado

Program Highlights

Because there are always more difficult dialogues to be had, the 31st National Conference in 2010 was themed, "Difficult Dialogues II." As did the previous year, the 2010 conference focused largely on panels and sessions, with less of an emphasis on extracurricular programming, and centered the voices and scholarship of women of color. The Keynote and Plenary Sessions were filled by women of color scholars, including two returning speakers from a 2009 Plenary Session. While there was no abstract for the Keynote Session, the speakers – Renya Ramirez and Andrea Smith – paired their session with a signing of their most recent books, respectively, Native Hubs: Culture, Community, and Belonging in Silicon Valley and Beyond and Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances. Below are more details on the Plenary Sessions.

    "Collaboration as Feminist Praxis Revisited"
    Chandra Talpade Mohanty and M. Jacqui Alexander
    M. Jacqui Alexander and Chandra Talpade Mohanty will build on their conversation about the nature of collaborative research and curricular practices, transnational feminisms and alliances, how they see this work as central to the field of Women's and Gender Studies, and how they have come together in their work to engage in their own forms of "difficult dialogues."

    "Complicating the Queer"
    Juana Maria Rodriguez and Gayatri Gopinath
    The move to queer theory in women's studies has both expanded the field and simultaneously reinforced silences about nation, race, ethnicity, class, and religion. Juana Maria Rodriguez and Gayatri Gopinath will examine those tensions and possibilities in this session.

Also like the year before, the conference program laid out the intentions behind each of the conference subthemes. Below are those descriptions, along with relevant sessions from the conference.

    Theme 1: Indigenous Feminisms: Theories, Methods, Politics
    Language shapes and reflects power relations and terms like "indigenous," "Indian," Native American," "aboriginal" and "First Nation" have different historical, social, and political uses. We invite examination of how serious engagement with indigenous feminisms would shift the questions asked, the methods used, and the power analyses possible in women's studies.
    • "The Uses and Abuses of History: Methodology. Decolonial Feminist Critique and Narratives of lndigeneity"
    • "Difficult Dialogues and Resounding Silences: The Twilight Cultural Phenomenon from Indigenous Feminist Perspectives"
    • "Indigenous Feminisms: Always Already Breaking White Feminism Linear History"

    Theme 2: Complicating the Queer
    The move to queer theory in women's studies has both expanded the field and simultaneously reinforced silences about nation, race, ethnicity, class, and religion. We invite women's studies practitioners to apply feminist intersectional and transnational frameworks within queer studies.
    • "'Queer' as an Agent of Complication and Transgression: Rethinking Embodiment and Subjectivity"
    • "Latin American Feminist and Queer Liberation Theologies in Translation: New Perspectives for Queer Studies in the United States"
    • "The Paradox of Queer in (De)Colonial Orientations"

    Theme 3: The Politics of Nations
    Taking traditional women's studies topics (i.e., "violence against women") and reformulating them to more adequately account for the role of the state (i.e., incarceration, militarization, land rights, war, immigration/asylum) has the potential to yield new feminist theories, methods, and politics and to shift our understanding of existing frameworks.
    • "The African Female Body as a Site of Regulation and Resistance & Challenging the Rescue Narrative"
    • "Five Years after Katrina: The Fall of National Policies and the Rise of Feminist Frameworks"
    • "The Tyranny of (Delusion: South Asian Conversations on Feminisms, Secularism and Nation-building"

    Theme 4: "Outsider" Feminisms
    We seek to consider what it means to be positioned as epistemologically or phenomenologically "outside" of traditional feminist practices, theories, and politics. Meaningful and transformative political and intellectual practice often takes place when so-called "outsiders" both challenge hegemonic epistemologies and simultaneously articulate the barriers to working across difference in contexts of marginalization. We invite analyses of "outsider" feminisms in many forms, including but not limited to masculinity studies, girls studies, and disability studies. We would like to complicate these areas of study by addressing feminist theorizing about progressive masculinities, the experiences of girls transnationally, and issues of race, class and nation in disability discourse.
    • "Outlier Feminisms: Black Women's Art and Affect. Chicana Mestizaje, Black and Native Women's Coalition Politics:
    • "Geographies of Nepantla: Theorizing Anzaldúan Spaces of Transformation"
    • "Challenging Postfeminism: How Today's Popular Culture Has Pushed Radical Feminisms into the Margins"

    Theme 5: The Critical and the Creative
    Groundbreaking collections like Toni Cade Bambara's The Black Woman, Gloria E. Anzaldúa's Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color and Anzaldúa and Cherrie Moraga's This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color refused the false divide between creative expression and theoretical analysis. However, alternative approaches to what "counts" as knowledge have not been fully realized within women's studies. We invite examinations of the epistemological and political dimensions of creativity in many forms, including but not limited to filmmaking, new media technologies, narrative, and the fine and performing arts.
    • "Subaltern Rememberings: Mapping Alternative Approaches to Memory"
    • "Fluid Exchanges: lntergenerational Navigation of Ways of Knowing in the Arts"
    • "Feminist Revolution at The Interface of The Digital Revolution"

List of 2010 program committee members

See the full program here

From the NWSA President

Dear Colleagues,

My work as National Women's Studies Association president and program co-chair has been extremely satisfying. I am especially pleased by the changes underway in NWSA as we strive to be the central organization for sharing the latest intersectional feminist scholarship and continue to advance our commitment to building a vibrant multi-racial, multi-ethnic feminist community.

I am also happy to welcome you to Difficult Dialogues II, where we expect to build on the excitement and energy of last year's conference. Difficult Dialogues II will explore a range of concepts and issues that remain under theorized and under examined in the field of women's studies.

Last year first-time attendees told us the Atlanta conference was the best conference they had ever attended; those who had not been for several years reignited their passion for NWSA; and those who have been long time dedicated members were delighted with the attendance and quality of the program. We look forward to sustaining that quality and momentum this year.

As outgoing president I am delighted to welcome my friend and colleague Bonnie Thornton Dill as NWSA president from 2010 to 2012. I remain excited about NWSA's future and the role you can play in its evolution, and once again I welcome you to the conference.


Beverly Guy-Sheftall
NWSA President and Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women's Studies, Spelman College

NWSA Governance

Below are the 2010 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.

2010 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.