Women & Gender Studies Institute

WGS Research Seminar

Spring 2016 Schedule

Wednesday, January 20, 2016
4:00–6:00 p.m.
D.G. Ivey Library, 20 Willcocks Street

Kim TallBear, University of Alberta – Molecular Death, Desire and Redface Reincarnation:  Indigenous Appropriation in the U.S.

I trace simultaneous and related discourses of indigenous life and death (our ever-predicted vanishing) as these discourses and practices unfold in genome science and other cultural fields in which indigeneity is consumed for the benefit of settler-colonial society. Multiple, shifting definitions of indigeneity are co-constituted with diverse claims to biological and cultural patrimony. For half a millennia colonial states have claimed ownership and control of land and “natural resources.” Academic disciplines developed in ways that support such claims. U.S. social actors extend colonial claims of ownership to include indigenous peoples’ DNA, symbols, and representations. This talk pays special attention to how dominant definitions and representations of indigeneity privilege individual human ancestry, history and agency over that of the collective. Thus a core tenet of indigenous peoples’ own definitions of their peoplehood is undone. The individualizing and new genomic constitution of indigeneity undercut its salience as a category for mobilizing peoples who resist the assimilative state. Instead, such moves assist the settler state in appropriating indigeneity within the national body, a final ultimate claim of ownership.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016
4:00–6:00 p.m.
JHB 100A Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street

Eve Tuck, OISE, Social Justice Education – Indigenous Feminist Theories of Change

This talk attends to Native feminist theories of change. I see these as compelling theories of compelling change: they are authored by Indigenous feminists, they consider change and land materially, and they move within Indigenous understandings of power and place.  I offer them to contest the colonial theories of change which over-determine what counts as knowing and action in the social sciences, and to describe closely a selection of theories of change which intend to bring about the rematriation of Indigenous land and life.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016
4:00–6:00 p.m.
JHB 100A Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street

Tracy Robinson, University of the West Indies, Social Justice Education – Loving Laws

I and many others have been involved in strategic litigation in the English speaking Caribbean that challenges the constitutionality of laws criminalizing same-sex sex. Many of us rely heavily on reason, especially forms of legal reason, to question laws that criminalize same sex sexuality. Yet the historical rationalist critique that that nationalists in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean are defending laws that are the product of colonialism has remarkably little traction where these laws still exist. It tends to miss how ‘[s]entiment is the ground against which the figure of reason is measured and drawn’ (Stoler). The relationship of many Caribbeans to 19th century laws criminalizing same-sex sex is a deeply affective one—of loving laws—that is partly prefigured by knowledge practices of the Caribbean common law state. In this paper I want to explore how technologies of law, and especially of what I term ‘a Caribbean common law’, helped to establish an affinity to some laws as, to borrow from Amar Wahab, ‘a state of reason’. Sentiments about legal kinship and belonging have been used to forge community and identity in the Anglophone Caribbean and forge heteropatriarchy as a form of ‘indigenous’ culture. I am also interested in exploring how process of legal reification—codification and consolidation of criminal laws in the 19th century and the methodologies of ‘saving’ of these laws through Caribbean constitutions—as well as gendered and sexualized international legal rhetoric also contributed to loving laws.

Tracy Robinson profile



Wednesday, April 13, 2016
4:00–6:00 p.m.
WI 2053, Wilson Hall, New College, 40 Willcocks Street

Ph.D. students in the Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies present their doctoral research.


Fall 2015 Schedule

The seminar is scheduled monthly on a Wednesday, from 4:00–6:00 p.m.

The WGSI Research Seminar is a monthly forum for interdisciplinary research in feminist and gender studies. Directed at both faculty and graduate students within the WGSI and across the campus as a whole, the seminar’s goal is to foster intellectual engagement with key theoretical, social and political questions touching on gender and feminism and their many intersections through the presentation of cutting-edge work by leading researchers both within and beyond the University of Toronto.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
4:00–6:00 p.m.
WI 1017, New College, 40 Willcocks Street

Avery F. Gordon (Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara) – Collective intelligence and preparation: a story of running away

An old story of running away is retold and the question of what happens if really there isn’t any new information to report, the runaways ate their fake papers resolving to Own nothing! and the first-person accounts are still missing? Will this old story that cannot be verified be of any use to those looking for escape routes today?  In this talk, I will present some items from the Hawthorn Archive that focus on the story of Eliza Winston and make a couple of general remarks about running away.

Avery F. Gordon is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Visiting Professor in the Birkbeck Department of Law|University of London (2015-2018). She is the author of The Workhouse: The Breitenau Room (with Ines Schaber); Keeping Good Time: Reflections on Knowledge, Power and People; Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination among other books and articles. Her work focuses on radical thought and practice and over the last several years, she has been writing about imprisonment, war and other forms of dispossession and how to eliminate them. She serves on the Editorial Committee of Race & Class, is the co-host of No Alibis, a weekly public affairs radio program on KCSB FM Santa Barbara, and is the keeper of the Hawthorn Archives.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
4:00–6:00 p.m.
D.G. Ivey Library, New College, 20 Willcocks Street

Tina Campt (Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies & Director of the Africana Studies program, Barnard College) – Diasporic Stasis and the Frequency of Black Refusal

This talk takes what may seem a counter-intuitive proposition as its primary point of departure – that stasis is neither an absence nor a cessation of motion; it is a continual balancing of multiple forces. It theorizes stasis as motion held in taut suspension in ways that hover between stillness and movement. The talk engages the forms of disaporic tension and stasis enacted in two archives of black vernacular photography: late nineteenth century ethnographic photos of rural Africans in the Eastern Cape and early twentieth century studio portraits of African Christians in South African urban centers. Focusing on the sonic frequencies of these images’ tense performance of stasis, the talk queries the relationship between black agency, self-fashioning and the everyday practices of refusal enacted by black subjects in a genre of images I call ‘quiet photography’.

Tina Campt is Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Africana and Women’s Gender and Studies, and Director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women at Barnard College-Columbia University. Campt’s published work theorizes gender, racial and diasporic formation in black communities in Germany, and Europe more broadly. She is the author of two books: Other Germans: Black Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender and Memory in the Third Reich (2004), an oral history that explores the experiences of Black Germans during the Third Reich, and Image Matters: Archive, Photography and the African Diaspora in Europe (2012), which theorizes the affects of family photography of in early twentieth century Black German and Black British communities. Campt has edited special issues of Feminist Review, Callaloo and small axe, and together with Paul Gilroy, co-edited Der Black Atlantik (2004), the first German language collection of key texts on the Black Atlantic. She recently completed her third monograph, Listening to Images (forthcoming from Duke University Press), a collection of essays that theorizes the everyday practices of refusal and fugitivity enacted in a frequently overlooked genre of black vernacular photographs she calls ‘quiet photography.’

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
4:00–6:00 p.m.
JHB 100A Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street

Kamari Clarke (Global & International Studies and Law & Legal Studies, Carleton University) – Law at the Nexus of Politics:  Humanitarian Sentimentality in the Rule of Law Movement

The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag that was popularized by politicians and celebrities in spring 2014 with global attention brought to the 200 school girls kidnapped by Muslim militants, Boko Haram. However, over the past year and a half there have been subsequent attacks killing thousands of victims.  The girls are still missing and the mass mobilization around this social action – including the leadership of first lady Michelle Obama – has failed. In the fields of international law and human rights, questions concerning the role of humanitarian sentimentality or emotion have been dismissed as highly personalized and not appropriate topics for international politics. Some have presumed that sentiments emerge out of individual spaces of emotion and feeling. And some have defined African non-compliance with treaty norms as simply instrumental, arguing for realist assessments of decision-making. They have insisted that forms of resistance to various international treaty demands are merely part of the play of lawmaking or attempts by the African elite to escape criminal accountability. In that regard, many insist that it is important to focus on the law, in its strictest sense, or that international law and human rights scholarship should focus on the central goal of “saving African victims” like “the girls of the Boko Haram attack” and not the politics of emotion connected to it.  While these various responses have their merit, it is clear that little is known about the distribution of sentiment and the production of legal and political subjectivities as they relate to international decision-making and humanitarian sentiment. This is especially the case in relation to understanding the way that affective attachments are held and mobilize social action in international legal domains, especially in Africa.

This lecture will explore the ways that sentimental strategies are being deployed in relation to justice discourses and will detail the way that feelings of anger inspire protest as a space for dialogue and how desire for social change solidifies various legal trajectories at the neglect of others. The goal will be to examine how relationships between affect and political engagement can be understood as both a source of and an obstacle to struggles for justice, ultimately calling for a rethinking of the potential for specific affects of compassion to inspire international rule of law action in Africa.

Kamari M. Clarke – is a professor of Global and International Studies at Carleton University. Over the past fourteen years she was a Professor of International and Area Studies at Yale University and Senior Research Scientist at the Yale Law School and has lectured widely throughout various United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. She has conducted research in various legal domains in international criminal tribunals, and international law training sessions in Ireland, London, Geneva, Banjul, The United Nations and beyond. Her research explores issues related to social and political theory, legal pluralism, international law, and the interface between legal institutions and the related production of knowledge and power.