Women & Gender Studies Institute

WGS Research Seminar

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


Spring 2018 Schedule

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 4:00–6:00 p.m., WGSI Lounge, Wilson Hall, New College, 40 Willcocks Street
Afiya S. Zia, Sessional Lecturer at the Women & Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto. She is a feminist researcher-scholar and activist with a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies from the University of York, UK. She is author of ‘Sex Crime in the Islamic Context’, 1994 (ASR, Lahore). Afiya has edited a series of books, authored several essays in recent publications and contributed to scholarly journals. She is currently completing a manuscript for publication titled, ‘Faith and Feminism in Pakistan’. Her research interests include the interplay of Islam and secularism in Muslim contexts, violence against women and the women health workers’ movement in Pakistan.
Title: Post-Defence Reflections: Insights on Progressing through the PHD
Description:  In this informal workshop, doctoral graduate Afiya Szia will share their insight around the experiences and lessons learned at various stages of competing their doctoral degree. The aim of this gathering is to provide an opportunity to foster open dialogue, voice concerns, find clarity, and share strategies that may help overcome habits like procrastination and/or assist productivity and encourage comradeship. We hope these conversations will serve as a valuable platform to come together as a community and to contribute to the conversation as colleagues, friends, and peers.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018 4:00–6:00 p.m., University College, 15 King’s Circle, Room UC 240
Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America and Beyond
Disobedient listening – or listening against – is a method to denaturalize tropes surrounding popular music and its study. Disobedient listening requires a phonographic approach, one that attends to where the sonic, visual, literary, and bodily intersect. Disobedient listening not only aims to uncover cultural truths or right the wrongs of previous scholarship. It aims to help us hear differently what popular music, its performance and reception, produces.
This talk opens with a discussion of disobedient listening and how it helped me to arrive at an understanding of Filipino/Filipino American musical events as ‘tropical renditions’—that is to say, performances that work within and against common racialized tropes of Filipinos, that turn our attention to particular histories of cultural transfers and renderings, and that are produced by and productive of places deemed “the tropics.” It moves on to share my own background—as an artist, scholar, and community/events organizer—and the ways it informs my first book project, Tropical Renditions: Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America, and my next book project, Afterlives of Martial Law. In what ways does the multidisciplinary field of performance studies allow for various research methods (ethnographic, close reading/listening, archival, for example) and various means of being an embodied and engaged scholar? In the end, I look forward to a broader dialogue, with graduate students and faculty, about building one’s own archives and intellectual communities, as well as ways to critically consider artists’ own political engagement with history, migration, authoritarianism, and forms of power.
Christine Bacareza Balance is Associate Professor of Asian American Studies and Gender & Sexuality Studies (UC Irvine). Her first book Tropical Renditions: Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America examines how post-World War II Filipino and Filipino American popular music composes Filipino identities, publics, and politics. Her next book project, The Afterlives of Martial Law, investigates the sensational politics enacted by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’ 21-year rule over the Philippines and the ways in which artists resist and remember in its historical aftermath. She was recently awarded a UCHRI (UC Humanities Research Institute) Engaged Humanities grant for a multi-site, multi-program public partnership with Visual Communications (VC), a Los Angeles-based Asian American media arts organization, to digitally preserve archival materials and present public programs that document the history of Philippine martial law and its impact upon Los Angeles-based communities. Balance’s previous writings on Asian American YouTube artists, Bruno Mars, Glee’s karaoke aesthetics, Imelda Marcos, and spree killer Andrew Cunanan have been published in various academic and online journals. She continues to collaborate with Prof. Lucy San Pablo Burns (UCLA) on the artistic/scholarly anthology, California Dreaming: Movement & Place in the Asian American Imaginary (University of Hawai’i Press, forthcoming). She is a proud board member of KulArts, a San Francisco-based traditional and contemporary Filipino arts presenter and community-based organization, and one-eighth of the New York-based indie rock band, The Jack Lords Orchestra.
Co-sponsors – WGSI and Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto


Wednesday, April 11, 2018 3:00–6:00 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 2017 Schedule

Wednesday, September 27, 2017, 4:00–6:00 p.m. WI 2007D, Wilson Hall, New College, 40 Willcocks Street
Talk title: Decentering Citizenship: Gender, Labor, and Migrant Rights in South Korea
Talk Abstract: Decentering Citizenship follows three groups of Filipina migrants’ struggles to belong in South Korea: factory workers claiming rights as workers, wives of South Korean men claiming rights as mothers, and hostesses at American military clubs who are excluded from claims—unless they claim to be victims of trafficking. Moving beyond laws and policies, Hae Yeon Choo examines how rights are enacted, translated, and challenged in daily life and ultimately interrogates the concept of citizenship. Choo reveals citizenship as a language of social and personal transformation within the pursuit of dignity, security, and mobility. Her vivid ethnography of both migrants and their South Korean advocates illuminates how social inequalities of gender, race, class, and nation operate in defining citizenship. Decentering Citizenship argues that citizenship emerges from negotiations about rights and belonging between South Koreans and migrants. As the promise of equal rights and full membership in a polity erodes in the face of global inequalities, this decentering illuminates important contestation at the margins of citizenship.
Hae Yeon Choo is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Affiliated Faculty of the Asian Institute and the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. Her first book, Decentering Citizenship: Gender, Labor, and Migrant Rights in South Korea (Stanford University Press, 2016), reveals citizenship as a language of social and personal transformation within the pursuit of dignity, security, and mobility. Choo’s research centers on gender, transnational migration, and citizenship to examine global social inequality.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 4:00–6:00 p.m. WI 2007D, Wilson Hall, New College, 40 Willcocks Street
Title: Fear and Loathing in Gringo Gulch: Gender, sexuality, and lifestyle migration
Description: This talk begins with a discussion of the key political, theoretical, and methodological ideas that inform my book, Gringo Gulch: Sex, tourism, and social mobility in Costa Rica. Focusing on the experiences of sex tourists, sex workers, and state employees, the book considers how the geopolitics of transnational tourism are played out in the embodied encounters of sex work and how the specific configurations of the sex industry in San José, Costa Rica are tied to a variety of local, national, and global processes. I then present the preliminary results of new research into the role that sexuality plays in the decision of some sex tourists to migrate to Costa Rica permanently. I ask how we might theorize the shift from tourist to migrant, considering the gendered dynamics involved in migration from north to south for a complex combination of affection, care, and sex. I argue that migration to Costa Rica for this group of men must be analyzed in terms of negotiations over class and masculine identities, intersecting with an interest in sexual access to younger, exoticized women. I explore the complex and uneven impact of migration on the class and ethnic identities and sexual practices of these migrants, focusing on their experiences of negotiating community and belonging in a city in the global South where they are simultaneously welcome and isolated.
Bio: Megan Rivers-Moore is assistant professor at the Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies at Carleton University. Her book, Gringo Gulch: Sex, tourism, and social mobility in Costa Rica, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016.
Reception with food to follow in the WGSI Lounge.