Global Under Menu

Featured Speakers

Friday Plenary
Saturday Plenary

Keynote Conversation: Elizabeth Alexander & Alondra Nelson
Thursday, November 8, 2018 at 7 PM
Hilton Atlanta, Grand Ballroom
Elizabeth Alexander
President, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Elizabeth Alexander, renowned poet, essayist, memoirist, and scholar, is President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation's largest funder in the arts and culture and humanities. She previously served as the Wun Tsun Tam Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and the inaugural Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University, where she taught for 15 years and chaired the African American Studies Department. At Smith College, she was the inaugural director at The Poetry Center, and as a faculty member at the University of Chicago before that, she was awarded the Quantrell Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In 2009, Professor Alexander composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. In 2015, Professor Alexander made the transition to philanthropy when she joined the Ford Foundation as Director of Creativity and Free Expression, designing initiatives such as the Art for Justice Fund. A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Professor Alexander is the author of six books of poems, two books of essays, and among many honors and awards was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in poetry and in biography.  Her latest book, the memoir The Light of the World was released to widespread acclaim in 2015.

Alondra Nelson
President, Social Science Research Council
Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Columbia University

Alondra Nelson is the fourteenth president of the Social Science Research Council, an international research nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing knowledge for the public good. She is also professor of sociology and gender studies at Columbia University, where she served as the inaugural dean of social science and director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She was previously on the faculty of Yale University and received its Poorvu Award for interdisciplinary teaching excellence. Widely known for her scholarship at the intersection of science, medicine, and social inequality, Nelson's recent books include The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome (2016), which was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Non-Fiction, and Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination (2011), which was recognized with the Mirra Komarovsky Book Award of the Eastern Sociological Society and the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Award of the Association for Black Women Historians. Nelson has contributed to national policy discussions on inequality, and about the social implications of new technologies. She serves on the board of directors of the Data & Society Research Institute and the Brotherhood-Sister Sol, a Harlem-based youth development organization as well as on the board for African-American Programs at Monticello. Nelson is chair of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge, and Technology and an elected fellow of the Sociological Research Association.

Keynote Conversation: Alice Walker & Beverly Guy-Sheftall
Saturday, November 10, 2018 at 7:30 PM
Hilton Atlanta, Grand Ballroom
Alice Walker
Poet and Activist

Alice Walker, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, is a canonical figure in American letters. She is the author of The Color Purple, The Temple of My Familiar, Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful, The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart, Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart, and many other works of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Her writings have been translated into more than two dozen languages, and more than fifteen million copies of her books have been sold worldwide.
Beverly Guy-Sheftall
Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women's Studies, Spelman College

Beverly Guy-Sheftall is the founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center (1981) and Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies at Spelman College. She has published a number of texts within African American and Women’s Studies, including the first anthology on Black women’s literature, Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature (1980), co-edited with Roseann P. Bell and Bettye Parker Smith; Daughters of Sorrow: Attitudes Toward Black Women, 1880–1920 (1991); Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought (1995); Traps: African American Men on Gender and Sexuality (2001), co-edited with Rudolph Byrd; Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities (2003), co-authored with Johnnetta Betsch Cole; I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde (2009) co-edited with Rudolph P. Byrd and Johnnetta B. Cole; Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies (2010), co-edited with Stanlie James and Frances Smith Foster. Her most recent publication is Who Should Be First: Feminists Speak Out on the 2008 Presidential Campaign (2010), co-edited with Johnnetta B. Cole. In 1983 she became founding co-editor of Sage: A Scholarly Journal of Black Women devoted exclusively to the experiences of women of African descent. She is the past president of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017).

Global 1968: A world on fire, remembering 1968 and looking to the future
Friday, November 9, 2018 at 12:30 PM
Hilton Atlanta, Grand Ballroom

This panel consists of feminists who were at the cutting edge of the anti-war, anti-racist and anti-imperialist movements of the 1960s and early 70s. Collectively they witnessed and participated in some of the most pivotal social movements and events of their generation: Wounded Knee, the takeover of Alcatraz, the Black Panther Party, the growing and changing women’s movement, the world communist movement, the U.S. anti-war movement, the Palestine solidarity movement, and more. We have asked them to assess the significance of that historic year of struggle, from Mexico to Chicago, to Paris, to Palestine. For those who witnessed these events, we will invite reflections – after marching, planning, strategizing, and organizing in 1968 – where did you think the world would be in 2018? Where are we? What do you see looking forward? How has your understanding of radical feminist politics informed your world view?

Robyn C. Spencer [Moderator] is a historian that focuses on Black social protest after World War II, urban and working-class radicalism, and gender. In 2018-2019 she is Women’s and Gender Studies Visiting Endowed Chair at Brooklyn College, CUNY. Her book The Revolution Has Come:  Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland was published in 2016. She is co-founder of the Intersectional Black Panther Party History Project and has written widely on gender and Black Power. Her writings have appeared in the Journal of Women’s History and Souls as well as The Washington Post, Vibe Magazine, Colorlines, and Truthout. Professor Spencer is an activist scholar who is committed to Black-Palestinian solidarity, campaigns to free political prisoners in the US and end mass incarceration and grassroots black feminist activism.

Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi is a scholar/activist committed to justice-centered scholarship and pedagogy. She is the founding director and senior scholar in Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) Studies, Associate Professor in Ethnic Studies and Race and Resistance Studies and affiliated Faculty in the Sexuality Studies Graduate Program at San Francisco State University. She is a prolific writer and public intellectual with over 80 articles in seven languages across academic and non-academic publications and scores of original lectures that she widely shared in the interest of community-accountable scholarship. She co-founded Union of Palestinian Women’s Associations in North America and the Palestine Solidarity Committee in the 1980s, California Scholars for Academic Freedom in 2008-2009, US Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) in 2009, and Feminists for Justice in/for Palestine in 2015 where she co-led NWSA’s successful BDS vote. As a result of her scholarship, pedagogy and activism, she has been targeted by relentless Zionist campaigns that seek to silence her, dismantle AMED and criminalize campus activism. She remains defiant to Zionist pressures and determined to teach, research and advocate for justice in/for Palestine as part of justice for all.
Angela Davis is an activist, writer, and Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz. 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 justice. She is the author of ten books, the most recent of which is entitled Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement (2016). Having helped to popularize the notion of a “prison industrial complex,” and as a founding member of Critical Resistance, 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.
Bernardine Dohrn, activist, academic and children’s and women’s rights advocate, is a retired Associate Clinical Professor at Northwestern University School of Law, where she was the founding director of the Children and Family Justice Center for twenty-three years. Dohrn was a founding co-chair of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee, a founding Board member of the W. Haywood Burns Institute for Justice, Fairness and Equity, and serves as vice-chair and a founding Advisory Board member of Human Rights Watch’s Children’s Rights Division. Dohrn is an author and co-editor of three books: Race Course: Against White Supremacy (2009), with Bill Ayers; A Century of Juvenile Justice (2002), with Margaret Rosenheim, Franklin Zimring and David Tanenhaus; and Zero Tolerance: Resisting the Drive for Punishment in Our Schools (2001). Most recently she has written “In My Lifetime, Young People Have Changed the World: Children as Social Actors” in Diving In, and “The Surprising Role of the CRC in a Non-State Partyin Litigating the Rights of the Child.

Ericka Huggins, a Black Panther Party member, political prisoner, poet and human rights advocate, brings a legacy of spiritual practice and social justice activism to her work. For thirty-eight years, Ericka has lectured and facilitated groups throughout the United States. She opens minds and hearts to an expanded view of humanity by turning participants to their family and work relationships. She values non-verbal communication and observes the room insightfully. Ericka has supported thousands of people in dialogue about the importance of human rights, whole child education, family reunification, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace and restorative practices as a tool for social change. As a speaker and facilitator, Ericka intentionally invites the voices of people who are underrepresented into conversation. She holds a compassionate space for awareness and accountability.

Madonna Thunder Hawk, an Oohenumpa Lakota, is a veteran of every modern Native occupation from Alcatraz, to Wounded Knee in 1973, and more recently the NODAPL protest at Standing Rock. Born and raised across the Oceti Sakowin homelands, she first became active in the late 1960s as a member and leader in the American Indian Movement and co-founded Women of All Red Nations and the Black Hills Alliance. In 1974, she established the We Will Remember survival group as an act of cultural reclamation for young Native people pushed out of the public schools. An eloquent voice for Native resistance and sovereignty, Thunder Hawk has spoken throughout the United States, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East and served as a delegate to the United Nations in Geneva. In the last three decades at home on Cheyenne River, Thunder Hawk has been implementing the ideals of self-determination into reservation life. She currently works as the tribal liaison for the Lakota People's Law Project in fighting the illegal removal of Native children from tribal nations into the state foster care system. She established the Wasagiya Najin "Grandmothers' Group" on Cheyenne River Reservation to assist in rebuilding kinship networks and supporting the Nation in its efforts to stop the removal of children from Native families. She is the main participant in a recent documentary Warrior Women which premiered in 2018.
Future of Gender
Saturday, November 10, 2018 at 2:45 PM
Hilton Atlanta, Grand Ballroom

A rich body of scholarship on sexuality and gender pushes us to think of what the future holds in fundamental ways: what are the implications for our freedom dreams if we can create spaces to truly reimagine gender and sexuality? Conversely, can we do so in the larger context of racial capitalism and hetero-patriarchy which often has a stranglehold on our collective imagination? How do we think of gender now in terms of identity, proximity to power, fluidity vs. binary? How might that framework evolve? How does gender fit into the larger matrix of power, freedom of expression, state violence and the biopolitics of the 21st century? What is/should be the role, if any, of the state and various institutions in defining gender and in the protection of group and individual rights? What does a radical trans politic look like and what does it offer to the trajectory of freedom-making in the coming decades? How do we assess "lesbian" politics in a society that is not only homophobic and transphobic, but patriarchal and misogynist? To what extent are we sometimes conflating identity with politics? Scholar-activists working in law, culture and performance, political science, and gender, women's and sexuality studies will address these critical questions.

Kai M. Green [Moderator] is a shape-shifting Black Queer Feminist nerd; an Afro-Future, freedom-dreaming, rhyme slinging dragon slayer in search of a new world; a scholar, poet, facilitator, filmmaker; and an Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies at Williams College. Green explores questions of Black sexual and gender agency, health, creativity and resilience in the context of state and social violence. An interdisciplinary scholar, Green employs Black feminist theory, performance studies and trans studies to investigate forms of self-representation and communal methods of political mobilization by Black queer folk. Green earned a Ph.D. from the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity with specializations in Gender Studies and Visual Anthropology at the University of Southern California. Green is a former postdoctoral fellow in Sexuality Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University and winner of the Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral and Dissertation Fellowships. Green published and edited work in GLQ: Gay and Lesbian Quarterly, South Atlantic Quarterly, Black Camera, and Transgender Studies Quarterly, as well as the forthcoming anthology, Black Trans Love is Black Wealth. Kai is a proud member of Black Youth Project 100 and sits on the healing and safety council.

micha cárdenas, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Art & Design: Games + Playable Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. cárdenas is writing a new algorithm for gender, race and technology. Her book in progress, Poetic Operations, proposes algorithmic analysis as a means to develop a trans of color poetics. cárdenas’s co-authored books The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities (2012) and Trans Desire / Affective Cyborgs (2010) were published by Atropos Press. Her artwork has been described as “a seminal milestone for artistic engagement in VR” by the Spike art journal in Berlin. She is a first generation Colombian American, born in Miami. Her articles have been published in Transgender Studies Quarterly, GLQ: Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, AI & Society, Scholar & Feminist Online, the Ada Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology, among others.

Cathy Cohen is the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science and former chair of the department. She has served as the Deputy Provost for Graduate Education and is the former Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. Cohen is the author of two books: Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics (Oxford University Press, 2010) and The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1999), and co-editor with Kathleen Jones and Joan Tronto of Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader (NYU Press, 1997). Cohen is principal investigator of two major projects: The Black Youth Project and the Mobilization, Change and Political and Civic Engagement Project. Her general field of specialization is American politics, although her research interests include African-American politics, women and politics, lesbian and gay politics and social movements.

Tourmaline is a filmmaker, artist and former Activist in Residence at the Barnard Center for Research on Women. She is the director of Atlantic is a Sea of Bones, the animated short The Personal Things,  and co-director with Sasha Wortzel of Happy Birthday, Marsha! Through her artistic practice Tourmaline works to reclaim and celebrate the life, aesthetics and joy of trans and gender non-conforming people of color and our activism. Tourmaline has worked as a community organizer at Critical Resistance, Queers for Economic Justice and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project to lift the voice and power of trans and gender non-conforming people.

C. Riley Snorton is a scholar, author and activist whose work focuses on historical perspectives of gender, sexuality and race. His publications include Nobody is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) and Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity (University of Minnesota Press, 2017). Snorton is Professor of English and Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Chicago.
Dean Spade is an associate professor at the Seattle University School of Law. In 2002, he founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit collective that provides free legal help to low-income people and people of color who are trans, intersex and/or gender non-conforming and works to build trans resistance rooted in racial and economic justice. He is the author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law (Duke University Press, 2015).
Kendall Thomas is the Nash Professor of Law and co-founder and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Culture at Columbia Law School. His teaching and research interests include U.S. and comparative constitutional law, human rights, legal philosophy, feminist legal theory, critical race theory, and law and sexuality. His past appointments include visiting professor at Stanford Law School and visiting professor in American studies and Afro-American studies at Princeton University. His writings have appeared in several academic journals and volumes of collected essays. Thomas is a co-editor of Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Founded the Movement (The New Press, 1996), and What's Left of Theory? (Routledge Press, 2000). Thomas was an inaugural recipient of the Berlin Prize Fellowship of the American Academy in Berlin and a member of the Special Committee of the American Center in Paris. He is the past chair of the jurisprudence and law and humanities sections of the Association of American Law Schools. Thomas is a founding member of the Majority Action Caucus of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, Sex Panic! and the AIDS Prevention Action League. He is also the former member and vice chair of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis board of directors.