NWSA, A History 2013 – 34th National Conference
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
34th National Conference | "Negotiating Points of Encounter” | November 7-10 | Cincinnati, Ohio
For the 2013 NWSA National Conference, the theme – "Negotiating Points of Encounter” – encompassed the Conference's continued emphasis on transnational feminism and its interrogation of globalization, neoliberalism, and US-centrism. The Plenary Sessions pushed conference attendees to hold introspective lens on themselves, their relationships with each other, and the collective feminist past, present, and future:
"Gender, Resistance, and Movements: Negotiating the Borders and Margins"
Speakers: LeeRay Costa (mod), Rabab Abdulhadi, Elora Halim Chowdhury, and Pamela D. Palmater
In this plenary we hope to bring together activist scholars, movement makers, and coalition builders— who often labor between borders of all kinds—to ponder the recent movements from Canada to India to South Africa, and discuss how, as activist scholars and writers of and in movements, feminists navigate various points of encounter inside and outside of the academy.
"Changing the Subjects: Remaking the Futures of the Feminist Past"
Speakers: Victoria Hesford (mod), Nan Alamilla Boyd, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and Kelly Wooten
This plenary asks how we renegotiate the subjects of feminist histories. What assumptions about the past has women’s and gender studies relied upon? What are the new histories of women’s and gender studies? Going forward, who and what subjects should be the focus of the field’s pasts? Who or what comes into view as we rethink the feminist archive? How do these archives converge or diverge from other communities’ official or unofficial collections, documentations, and repositories of knowledge?
The intent of the conference's theme was to "[take] up the geographies, histories, and political stakes of various feminist engagements, confrontations, and struggles— intellectual and institutional, local and global, public and intimate" and ask oneself, "How are we, or should we be, negotiating these points of encounter as the contours of theories, disciplines, communities, economies, forms of protest, and even national identities shift?" In exploring that question, the conference also offered five subthemes. Below are the subthemes, along with some of their related panels.
THEME 1: THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE
Women’s and gender studies as a field analyzes subjects often seen as out of bounds, improper, even abject—and celebrates the irreverent, iconoclastic, the marginal—in a word, the profane. How then does the sacred operate in women’s and gender studies? What is the field’s “profane”?
- “'#QuiltedNarratives'”: Using Technology to Bring Changes to the Spaces Where We Tell Our Stories"
- "Transdisciplinary Encounters: Challenges and Perspectives in 2013"
- "It’s in the Breath, This Strength"
THEME 2: BORDERS AND MARGINS
The field of women’s and gender studies has always focused on boundaries and the structures that regulate and police those boundaries. As a corollary, much productive work that is now recognized as important, even central, to the field was initially undertaken from the space of borders and margins.
- "Negotiating Points of Change: Black Feminism and the Empowerment of Young Women and Girls"
- "Welcome to Ratchetstan: Black Women and the Politics of (Dis)Respectability"
- "Kind Hearted Woman: Using Film to Confront Domestic Violence Crisis in Indian Country"
THEME 3: FUTURES OF THE FEMINIST PAST
Recent scholarship in cultural anthropology, geography, history, and various interdisciplinary fields has begun to historicize the neoliberal/late liberal present through a variety of conceptual and socio-political frames, including the archive, the event, affect, indigeneity, and the biopolitical.
- "Transnational Conversation on Reproductive Health"
- "Investigating Gender and Health from a Feminist Perspective Within a Women’s Studies Department"
- "Sparking Change Through Intergenerational Girl-Driven Activism"
THEME 4: BODY POLITICS
Questions about the body and its politics are central sites of theoretical analysis and activism coming out of feminist, queer, transgender, and disability studies. The current neoliberal context is marked by discourses and policies of austerity, climate change, assaults on reproductive rights, mass incarceration, racism, ageism, poverty, violence and hostility toward LGBTQI2-S people and women, and technological and rehabilitative responses to disability.
- "Incorporating Women-Identified Trans* / Gender-Variant People of Color into Women of Color / Feminist of Color Studies Syllabi Workshop"
- "Promoting “Blue” Language in a Red State: Inclusive Sexual Health Education in a Conservative Climate"
- "Feminist Mothering Caucus Sponsored Panel: Negotiating Motherhood Across Various Spaces of Engagement"
THEME 5: PRACTICES OF EFFECTING CHANGE
Effecting change in pursuit of social justice has long been a central goal of feminist scholarship and pedagogy. The field of women’s and gender studies can point to rich and well-documented accounts of feminist change-makers and their making change within the academy and beyond. And yet the centrality of the field’s political desires has not always revealed obvious paths or clear causal relations between critique and agency, the academic and the activist, or analyzing change and effecting it.
- "Altars as Embodied Negotiation: Reimagining Encounters with Privilege and Oppression Through Creative Spiritual Practice"
- "Using Film to Teach About the White Savior Industrial Complex: A Critical Transnational Feminist Approach"
- "Instructor Disclosure: The Politics and Pedagogies of our Identities"
See the full program here
From the NWSA President
As National Women’s Studies Association president and conference co-chair, I am happy to welcome you to Negotiating Points of Encounter. The conference takes up the geographies, histories, and political stakes of various feminist engagements, confrontations, and struggles—intellectual and institutional, local and global, public and intimate. How are we, or should we be, negotiating these points of encounter as the contours of theories, disciplines, communities, economies, forms of protest, and even national identities shift?
We expect this conference to bring together activist scholars, movement makers, and coalition builders—who often labor between borders of all kinds—to consider how feminists navigate various points of encounter inside and outside of the academy. We also want to interrogate the subjects of feminist histories. Going forward, who and what subjects might be (shaping) the focus of the field’s pasts—and futures?
Our program invites you to immerse yourselves in discussions about these issues and to explore the sacred and the profane, borders and margins, futures of the feminist past, body politics, and practices of effecting change.
The program committee and staff have worked hard to provide a dynamic program, which I hope you will find challenging, stimulating, and invigorating. With you all, I remain excited about NWSA’s future and the role we can play together in its growth, and once again I welcome you to the conference.
Yi-Chun Tricia Lin
NWSA President 2012-2014
Professor of Women’s Studies Southern Connecticut State University
Below are the 2013 NWSA governance members. You can see the current Governing Council members, conference co-chairs, and staff members here.
See the rest of the history project here
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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.