Keynote: “Toward Complicity: Making Queer Left Activist and Academic Knowledge”

“Toward Complicity: Making Queer Left Activist and Academic Knowledge”

4.21.2017 |2:30p-3:30p | African American Cultural Center | Student Union, 4th Floor

Keynote: Dr. Margot Weiss (Wesleyan)

“Toward Complicity: Making Queer Left Activist and Academic Knowledge)


Margot Weiss is Chair and Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Studies at Wesleyan University and the president of the national Association for Queer Anthropology. Her research focuses on the sexual politics of late capitalism, primarily in the US. She is the author of Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality (Duke UP, 2011), awarded the Ruth Benedict Book Prize in queer anthropology and a Lambda Literary Foundation Finalist in LGBT Studies. Weiss’s essays on queer politics and neoliberalism, LGBT/queer economic precarity, the politics of academic and activist knowledge, sexuality and American imperialism, and methodology in queer anthropology have appeared American Quarterly, GLQ, Journal of Homosexuality, Anthropologica, Cultural Anthropology, and Radical History Review. She is currently writing on her second book, Visions of Sexual Justice, which explores how queer left activists cultivate a radical political imagination in the midst of crisis and closure.



Session 8B: Discursive Elements: Personhood, Place, and Power

Session 8B

Discursive Elements: Personhood, Place, and Power

4.22.2017 | 4:45p-6:00p | Laurel Hall 110

Restrictive ideas about personhood have often helped to marginalize groups who are racialized and gendered as ‘abnormalities’. In this session, we will consider how liberation, freedom, and ‘humanness’ can be constructed in ways that challenge coloniality and create opportunities for radical perspectives on what it means to be human.

Moderator: Darian Spearman (Philosophy; UCONN)

Participant Abstracts

 Thomas Meagher (Philosophy; UCONN)
Transumptive Chains and Preservation-through-Transformation

The legal scholar Reva Siegel has argued that status-enforcing regimes maintain relationships of domination through periodic reforms that create the appearance of large-scale transformation but function, instead, to preserve domination in more durable form. The notion has been appealed to, for instance, by Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow, but resonates with longstanding currents in Marxist thought, feminist studies, and critical race theory. In a parallel vein, Sylvia Wynter has argued that human knowledge is constrained by the cultural and historical limits imposed on each “episteme.” Intellectual change, she argues, occurs when liminal thinkers are able to glimpse reality beyond the society’s imposed regime of truth. But since liminality is not, as it were, radical escape from the episteme, transformative moments nonetheless retain the bulk of the episteme that they revolt against. The product of such retention is what Wynter terms “transumptive chains,” linkages between epistemes that are internally disavowed but that facilitate the maintenance of past modes of domination in new forms. This paper will give a phenomenological examination of the relationship between Siegel’s account of legal and political preservation-through-transformation and Wynter’s account of cultural and intellectual transumptive chains. Employing an account of consciousness and the symbolic by way of Frantz Fanon, Ernst Cassirer, and Jean-Paul Sartre, I will suggest that Siegel’s and Wynter’s formulations point to ineradicable problems of the human condition, but argue that this does not entail that modes of domination are themselves ineradicable. Rather, I contend that they point to dialectics of creolization and decreolization that are endemic to human life, and that responsibility in the face of these dialectics requires an unflinching commitment to thinking radically.

Michael L. Rosino (Sociology; UCONN)
“A Problem of Humanity”:
The Human Rights Framework and the Struggle for Racial Justice

While the historical and ongoing symbolic and material inequalities and violence faced by African Americans can be understood as a human rights violation, the efficacy of the human rights framework for addressing racial injustice in the U.S. remains contested. In this paper, I examine the relationship between the emergence and dominance of the geopolitical doctrine of human rights and the struggle for racial justice in the United States. Through historical, legal, and sociological analysis of relevant issues and cases, I discern the benefits and limitations of the human rights framework for achieving racial justice and elucidate dynamics between relevant institutional, political, and social actors. Ultimately, I argue that the human rights framework opens up pathways for symbolic, information, and accountability politics conducive to combating racial injustice, particularly in regard to overt manifestations of racial oppression and violence, but that enduring issues such as the role of the state in racial politics and domination presents significant hindrances.

Session 8A: The Commute of Power & Oppression: How Intersectionality Resists Inequality

Session 8A

The Commute of Power & Oppression: How Intersectionality Resists Inequality

4.22.2017 | 4:45p-6:00p | Laurel Hall 110

This workshop is a guide for students and instructors who wish to use intersectionality within their classrooms. The discussant will provide an overview of the term as it relates to inequality and identity, and then use the session as an interactive space to build pedagogical tools and learning.

Workshop Discussant: Simone Kolysh, MPH, M.Phil (Sociology; The Graduate Center-CUNY)


In this workshop, I want to talk about the way intersectionality can help fight inequality. First I want to work through its definition, which I put forth as the following: an academic theory that states one’s race (black), gender (women), and class (poor) intersect to determine one’s relationship to power and oppression. I will talk about Kimberle Crenshaw’s work and that of Patricia Hill Collins and Moya Bailey. Then I will define what I mean by ‘theory,’ ‘power’ and ‘oppression.’ Next, I will provide a visual exercise to ‘see’ intersectionality in our lives. I do this by drawing train tracks on the board (The Commute of Power and Oppression) where power (and privilege) would be at the top and oppression (and discrimination) would be at the bottom. Both power and oppression are discussed as unearned and composing of both structural and daily inequalities. As to the specific train tracks I would draw ones for ‘Race,’ ‘Gender,’ ‘Class,’ ‘Sexuality,’ ‘Education,’ ‘Age,’ ‘Ability,’ ‘Citizenship,’ ‘Religion’ and others depending on how the workshop goes. For each of the train tracks, I would place groups that hold power at the top and groups that face oppression at the bottom while placing others in the middle. For example, for the ‘Race’ train track, I’d have ‘white’ at the top, ‘indigenous’ at the bottom, and ‘asian’ in the middle. During our discussion, I’d talk about the social construction and history of race and racism in the U.S., how other groups of color fall on the hierarchy and ask each participant to place their train at their particular spot. The exercise asks people to put their train somewhere even if their particular (identity) train spot isn’t on the train track, because that’s how society treats us, by only using a few categories that have little to do with how we actually identify. I would repeat the hierarchy mapping for every train track and ask participants to place their trains on each track. At the end of the workshop, we’d work out where many of our train stops are and how such placements manifest in our daily lives. This portion helps participants see themselves as both marginalized and in positions of power, depending on what social axis is under discussion. Finally, we would discuss how viewing the world through an intersectional lens would help fight inequality in society.

Simone Kolysh

PRESENTER: Simone Kolysh, MPH, M.Phil is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center. Their dissertation addresses public space interactions at the intersection of gender, sexuality, race, class and space. They are also adjunct professor at Lehman College and Brooklyn College and Quantitative Reasoning Fellow at Kingsborough Community College.

Session 7B: On the Subject of Blackness: Subjectivities & Inequalities

Session 7B

On the Subject of Blackness: Subjectivities & Inequalities

4.22.2017 | 3:20p-4:35p | Laurel Hall 108

Like in the book DarkMatters (2015), this discussion “takes up blackness, as metaphor and as lived materiality” (Browne 2015, 9). Here, the conversations will consider transnational productions of Blackness, experience, and the unequal landscapes that shape identity formation and social life.

Moderator: Vanessa Lovelace, PhD (Political Science; UCONN)

Participant Abstracts

Amanda Alcantara (Latin American and Caribbean Studies; New York University)
Mujer Liniera:
Solidarity, Entrepreneurship and Womanism in the Dominico-Haitian Border

While past studies have highlighted the history of violence on the Dominican-Haitian border, particularly the 1932 state-sponsored massacre of Haitian immigrants, few have sought to examine the violence experienced by women. This study examines the lives of women on the town of Dajabón, in the northern part of the border, with a focus on forms of substinence and the ways in which labor is central to women’s identity. In this essay I specifically show how womanist thought emerges for women facing economic hardships and other forms of violence in Dajabón. Women in Dajabón contribute greatly to the regions’ entrepreneurship and economic development, driving them, for example, to form women-centered organizations, which seek to overcome nation-state boundaries. However, though this thought indeed arises, borders imposed by the state, namely blackness and the physical border, as well as the neoliberal economy wherein labor becomes a marker of worth, affects women’s subjectivity. The research in this essay is informed primarily by interviews with 26 women, and contextualized through a look at primary sources such as censuses, and secondary sources exploring the border’s history as well as blackness and identity in the Dominican Republic.


Katheryn Maldonado (Latina/o and Latin American Studies; UCONN)
Sovereignty and Statelessness in the Dominican Republic:
The Next Generation and Limitations on IRB Sovereignty

This project builds on literature that analyzes important recent legal decisions of the Dominican Republic that have impacted the nationalization, denationalization and citizenship of Dominicans of Haitian descent. Recent rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal have affirmed and extended earlier laws and bureaucratic edicts that have effectively denationalized Dominicans of Haitian ancestry numbering in the tens and perhaps the hundreds of thousands by invalidating their citizenship due to their ancestors’ undocumented Haitian migrant status. These cases clearly repudiate the Inter-American Court of Human Rights determination in the 2005 case of Yean and Bosico Children v. The Dominican Republic that the state was contravening its obligation to prevent the spread of statelessness, a ruling acclaimed at the time as a major precedent in international law on statelessness. The Dominican Tribunal’s Sentencia 168-13 of September 23rd, 2016 set in motion a complex political crisis surrounding the questions of how to settle the nationality of those Dominicans to be denationalized by the Sentencia and regularize the status of undocumented Haitian nationals.  Perhaps the most basic question raised for international law by this jurisprudence, legislation and the surrounding controversy is whether it is warranted to permit states absolute sovereignty in regulating immigration, residence and belonging. Rights liberal organizations have left untouched this larger question, of the extent of the Dominican state’s sovereignty regarding citizenship and nationality, in the exigency of responding to the plight of those stripped retroactively of their nationality. This paper analyzes the response by the international human rights community and liberal voices, and considers what foundations international law might provide for limiting state sovereignty on immigration, residence and belonging. In this way, this paper shifts the focus from those Dominicans who were retroactively denationalized to the children of today and generations yet to be born who will also be at risk of being left stateless if no sensible limits are found to the Dominican state’s sovereignty on questions of alienage.

Julian Cook, MA
Title: “Colors of Identity: An Analysis of Colorisms, Phenotypes, and Their Societal Impacts in The Maids of Havana and Reyíta”

Since the beginning of what we now know as Latin America, a socioeconomic hierarchy has existed, which functions to maintain the social positions of those in power – the Whites. It is impossible to say that there are no lasting effects of said hierarchy; in Latin America, we see
this relationship played out on a large scale – particularly in regions with large populations of African-descended people. In various places, the societal normativity is based on the culture’s aesthetic perception in order to be able to maintain a certain, continuous rhythm in the daily life. Two of the subliminal techniques used to maintain this cyclical lifestyle are: (1) the use of colors (i.e. negro/a, negrito/a, negrono/a) to create a subaltern; and (2) the sale of commercial products that reinforce Eurocentric values of beauty (whitening creams, hair straightening products, dyes, etc.)
In this work, I argue that, with these subliminal forms of societal repression, the Black woman in Cuban culture has been habitually repressed to the point of self-hating and negation. In Cuba, perception is everything; it is the driving force in determining who is a fully recognized
member of the society. This paper explores what it means to be a Black woman in Cuba through the lives of two everyday women. I conclude by noticing that this is a trend that currently persists, by mentioning a poem written by Victoria Santa Cruz entitled “Me gritaron negra” – a poem which takes us through the journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance of being Black in Latin America.


Session 7A: Decoloniality in Praxis: Towards Reflexive Healing Methodologies

Session 7A

Decoloniality in Praxis: Towards Reflexive Healing Methodologies
4.22.2017 | 3:20p-4:35p | Laurel Hall 106

Looking at the intersections of healing and praxis, this session aims to provide theoretical directions in therapeutic care and social justice. This talk stems from approaches that hold racism, inequality, and understanding of nuanced cultural identities at the crux of their work.

Dawn-Marie Luna (Clinical Psychology-Latinx Studies; Pepperdine University)
Free your mind and the soul will follow:
Consejos from one marriage and family therapist trainee to the next

The purpose of this paper is to explore the intersections of social creativity, liberation psychology, borderland epistemology and narrative therapy in an attempt to develop a comprehensive understanding of what social justice and social advocacy mean to the practice of counseling, how one identifies privilege, and the importance of practicing from a decolonial standpoint. Borderland thinking addresses our right to self-representation as individuals and as a collective. Self-representation is about both the development of a personal identity and a professional identity (Hernadez-Wolfe, 2011). Situating oneself politically informs how one practices therapeutically. The author argues, trainees must practice from an intersectional/borderland, liberatory psychological perspective. Because current traditional mental health practices oppresses Afro-Latinx communities keeping them at the margins to accessing mental health services. In order to increase mental health services we must shift how we think about intervening and healing our communities. Our current political climate is a world full of hatred, oppression, and the growing “plague” of the contagious, communicable diseases of poverty, sexism, racism, and war (Alsup, 2009). Moreover, in this paper the author examines her intersecting identities, and her process toward grounding herself in social creativity, liberation psychology, borderland epistemology and narrative therapy. It is the hopes of the author that people will leave with new ways to think about how to congruently heal and liberate Afro-Latinx communities.


Sheena Sood (Sociology; Temple University)
Cultivating a Yogic Theology of Collective Healing: A Yogini’s Journey Disrupting White Supremacy, Hindu Fundamentalism, and Casteism

This paper explores what cultivating a yogic theology of collective liberation can look like, both by acknowledging the harm done through the misappropriation of yoga and also by grounding into values of radical healing that allow our communities to use the practice to help us move through trauma. For hundreds of years, yoga has been appropriated both by colonizers, white supremacist cultures, Hindu fundamentalists, and spiritually-driven humanitarian organizations. As a South Asian femme with Hindu roots and a commitment to political activism, my journey with yoga has been simultaneously complicated and life-affirming. Although my initial experience practicing yoga with organized religious and spiritual groups affirmed a healing space for my brown body at a time when I was just beginning to question the effects of white supremacy and colonization on my assimilated mind, the Hindu leaders in these groups also introduced me to its Islamophobic, casteist and nationalist dimensions of the practice. I came to see how spiritual practices, when taught by groups with fundamentalist and nationalist agendas, can be used as a tool to strengthen oppressors while further subjugating marginalized communities.
Although I believe the core elements of yoga philosophy are grounded in justice and liberation for humanity, such yogic principles are often misappropriated toward agendas that strengthen oppressors while perpetuating the dehumanization, oppression and social inequality of communities on the margins. Much of this is due to the legacies of colonization, capitalism, commodification, Brahmanical casteism, white supremacy and religious nationalism. Accordingly, individuals continue to experience yoga in violently oppressive ways. While I agree that social justice yogis have a duty to disrupt the whitewashing of yoga through neo-liberal colonizing efforts, we must go beyond condemning western cultural appropriation. If we wish to offer yoga as a tool for healing our communities and building resilience and fueling resistance in our movements, we must also acknowledge yoga’s oppressive history by South Asian Hindu elites. Our social movement communities are already incorporating yoga into their healing justice models of collective care. Accordingly, it’s imperative that we struggle to cultivate a radical tradition of yogic theology—a philosophy that embraces the universal healing elements and promotes “radical healing” (S. A. Ginwright 2009) for oppressed communities while acknowledging historical realities and calling for a bold, revolutionary political framework in our offering of the practice.

Session 6B: Collaboration and Resistance in Anti-Racist Feminist Writing & Work

Session 6B

Collaboration and Resistance in Anti-Racist Feminist Writing & Work
4.22.2017 | 1:50p-3:05p | Laurel Hall 110

The first half will consist of two paper presentations, which focus on feminist work by indigenous women in Mexico and Black and Latina women in the US. We analyze how these women interrogate neoliberal multiculturalism and the racial state’s effect on their communities and way of life. In examining Mexican Indigenous women’s collective mobilization and US Women’s confessional writing we seek a new way of seeing agency within the confines of racial and gender oppression. The second part will consist of workshopping between presenters and audience members to dialogue about how agency, resistance and collaboration can be utilized in our work as academics, artists and activists.


Jennifer Caroccio (American Studies; Rutgers University)

Nidia Melissa Bautista (Global Journalism + Latin American and Caribbean Studies; New York University)

Paper Abstracts:

“Indigenous Women’s Movements in Mexico:
Precedents, Intersections and Lessons for Anti-Racist Work”

This paper seeks to map out women-centered movements in Mexico by paying close attention to the work feminist and indigenous women have done to expand, and sometimes challenge, what anti-racist and gender justice looks like. While it has been difficult for heterogeneous communities to coalesce in their demands for cultural rights and racial equality throughout Latin America in the last decades (Paschel 2016), especially considering that racial eruptions and sexism continues to fragment black and indigenous movements (Hale 2010, Hooker 2009), a look at the ways indigenous women have presented opportunities to find strength within that diversity, and push toward gender and collective justice, is warranted. A look at two case studies, presented in Aida Castillo’s recent work “Multiple Injustices”, will help illuminate why intersectionality within movements isn’t only an approach increasingly deemed necessary by women, but as a strategy that can be conducive to collective justice within neoliberal multiculturalism frameworks and beyond.

Seeing the Cracks: Women of Color Writing to Resist”

 This paper plans to interrogate the “projects and practices” of racial states to reveal the junctions of patriarchal goals and rule by emphasizing that misogyny is intrinsic to racial formation and legalization. Theoretical writing by women of color, which employs personal narrative, allows a glimpse into how individuals resists the crushing weight of white heteropatriarchy. Simply put, racial states are also gendered states. My argument centers on the essays by Gloria Anzaldúa, bell hooks, and Audre Lorde, tracing how each writer actively resist the violence of the state through the use of personal writing. Each writer illuminates the practice of the racial and gendered state, making a case for active resistance via testimonial writing. The focus of this analysis is on how each writer examines her marginalized experience as a subject in a racial state to contest the confines of oppression as Queer women of color in the United States.

Session 6A: Necropolitics and the State

Session 6A

Necropolitics and the State
4.22.2017 | 1:50p-3:05p | Laurel Hall 107

While State-level discourse and policy is often treated as neutral, the analyses emerging from this session demonstrate how exclusionary formations of ‘citizens’ relegate some bodies as illegitimate, transgressive, and worthy of policing. By using cases coming out of two countries – the Netherlands and Mexico – we shall see which bodies are included and which are left out of the equation.

Moderator: Roberta Villalón, PhD (Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology & Anthropology; St. Johns’ University)

Participant Abstracts

Rachell Sanchez Rivera (Latin American Studies; University of Cambridge-Queens College)
Obstetric Violence and Eugenics in Mexico

My work focuses on how Mexican sexuality in its relation to eugenics becomes a key element in the nation building process from the last third of 19th Century onwards. This series of practices and discourses disseminates which bodies are deemed acceptable for the reproduction of imaginary ideas that construct the nation. Simultaneously, they determine who should be able to reproduce and who should not. Since the last third of the 19th Century, one can start to note how the Mexican nation building process is so embedded in racialized ideas, eugenic beliefs, gendered logic, class thought and so on. These elements shape political, social, economic and cultural thought throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries. The fact that there are bodies that should not be able to reproduce under the “truth of science” justifies the notion that deems acceptable practices of sterilization to a sector of Mexican women without their full and informed consent.

Nathalie Chara (Sociology Instructor at El Centro College | Gender, Sexuality, and Society; Universiteit van Amsterdam – 2016)
The Deconstructed Juvenile Sex Offender, Intersectionality and Integration
A Discourse Analysis of Juvenile Sex Offender Research in the Netherlands

The concept of ‘juvenile sex offender’ is quite novel in the Netherlands. First emerging in 2002, the ensuing research has provided an interesting construction of the problem that relies heavily on gendered, racialized, and class-based assumptions. This intersectional construction has created different representations of the problem with varied meanings, implications, and effects. At the core, the overarching problem representation suggests that the problem is concentrated in boys who are violent, come from ethnic neighborhoods, are children of non-western immigrants and as such are deemed not knowledgeable about Western sexuality. As a result, these representations have the potential to produce severe consequences as they target specific people and, in many cases, specific neighborhoods. Interestingly, class can be found at an unusual intersection. Within this discourse, class is developed and functions as a metaphor or replacement concept for race. Class is actively transformed into a concept with specific racial connotations and far-reaching consequences. In unpacking these constructions, this thesis challenges the current problem representations and argues that these assumptions are indicative of a wider process happening in the Netherlands.