Women & Gender Studies Institute

WGS Research Seminar

Fall 2016 Schedule

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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 4:00–6:00 p.m. JHB 100A Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street

Robert Diaz (WGSI, University of Toronto)

Robert Diaz is Assistant Professor in the Women & Gender Studies Institute. His research and community work focus on the intersections of postcolonial, queer, and Filipino/a diasporic Studies. Together with Marissa Largo and Fritz Pino, Diaz is co-editing Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos/as and Canadian Imaginaries(forthcoming in the Critical Insurgencies Series for Northwestern University Press). His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Journal of Asian American Studies, Signs, GLQ, Women and Performance, Philippine Palimpsests: Essays for the 21st Century (NYU Press) and Global Asian Popular Culture (NYU Press).

To Will Incommensurable Futures: Queer Filipinos/as in Toronto’s Gay Pride

This talk will examine how queer diasporic migrants negotiate the hierarchizing practices of Canadian multiculturalism and settler colonialism. As a case study, it focuses on “Cabinet of Queeriosities,” a contemporary art exhibit that featured the work of Julius Manapul, and Miss Gay Philippines Canada, a beauty pageant that featured Filipino/a contestants competing from across the greater Toronto area. By tracing the complex articulations of nonnormative intimacy, kinship, and sexuality that emerge from these two events, Diaz will trace the political possibilities of centering queerness in Filipino/a Canadian migration research. He tracks how diasporic forms of sexuality unsettle multiculturalism’s logics for policing inclusion and delineating difference. As diasporic arrivants, queer Filipinos/as index a repertoire of colonial histories that problematize the racializing mechanisms that continue to sustain settler colonialism. They enact messy utopic pursuits that create complex forms of collectivity and community in Canada, beyond the pluralist narratives of diversity often maintained by the state.   _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Wednesday, October 26, 2016 4:00–6:00 p.m. Location:  Room 2053, Wilson Hall, New College (20 Willcocks Street)

Rebecca Cook (Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Medicine and the Joint Centre for Bioethics, and Co-Director, International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, University of Toronto)

Rebecca J. Cook, J.D., J.S.D., is Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Medicine and the Joint Centre for Bioethics, and Co-Director, International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, University of Toronto. She is ethical and legal issues co-editor of the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and a Member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Her most recent co-edited book is: Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014). _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Wednesday, November 9, 2016 4:00–6:00 p.m. Location:  Anthropology Room 246, 19 Russell Street

Nat Hurley (English and Film Studies, University of Alberta)

Nat Hurley is Associate Professor of English at the University of Alberta. She is the co-editor, with Steven Bruhm, of Curiouser: On the Queerness of Children (U of Minnesota P, 2004) and editor of  a special double issue of ESC: English Studies in Canada  on Childhood and Its Discontents (38.3-4, 2012). Her book on the history of the queer novel in American Literature is forthcoming from University of Minnesota press, and she has published articles and book chapters on American literature, children’s literature, and queer theory.

Storytime and Sexuality with Jean LaPlanche’s Children

This talk investigates the scenes of the stories we still don’t tell to children about sexuality—but which we nonetheless reveal to them anyway.  It explores, in other words, cultural addresses to children that amount to forms of sexuality that exceed the content of cultural texts.  For Jean Laplanche, the form that sexuality takes in addresses to children is the form of the “enigmatic signifier”: signifiers that are “simultaneously indissociably enigmatic and sexual, in so far as they are not transparent to themselves, but compromised by the adult’s relation to their own unconscious, by unconscious sexual fantasies set in motion by his relation to the child” (79). The sexual content of the enigmatic signifier (or its lack thereof) is therefore only part of the story: the message’s mode of address as well as the content it represses for itself give life to sexuality as an unconscious form, which children and adults alike encounter in each other. My talk opens by tracking glimpses of this repressed content in examples of impossible sexual children’s culture (like the Onion’s spoof report on the Mapplethorpe Museum for Children and Bob Staake’s images of “bad” children’s books). I read these scenes symptomatically, as repositories for adult anxiety about sexual culture for children, an anxiety articulated in the form of jokes. I then position these eruptions-into-representation of the sexual unconscious as a complex unmasking of the scene of seduction that is central to Laplanche’s work. I ultimately argue for an understanding of child sexuality tied to the relational, dynamic unconscious of both adults and children in their relationship to each other.  Children’s culture might thus be read productively, not only as a portion or projection of adult desire (pace Jacqueline Rose) or a site of “erotic innocence” (James Kincaid), but as enigmatic signifiers that enable us to recognize the force of adults’ refused or repressed desires. Reading texts for children with Jean Laplanche means understanding the ways addresses to children mobilize a psychic model of sexuality that exceeds the seeming sexual content of children’s texts and cultural artifacts to include the dynamic unconscious of enigmatic signifiers at the scene of adult-child relations.   _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Spring 2017 Schedule

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 4:00–6:00 p.m. JHB 100A Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street

Chris Johnson (WGSI and Department of History, University of Toronto)

Travel Sickness: Pan-Africanism, Medicine and Misogynoir in Interwar Caribbean Harlem

Through a historical case study of Caribbean health activists in Harlem, this talk explores the persistence of patriarchy and misogynoir in black politics, and the suppression of bodily autonomy in visions, demands, and agendas for liberation. In local and transnational campaigns against Jim Crow healthcare, British colonial medical violence, and fascism, black Caribbean physicians based in “the Negro Melting Pot” of Harlem claimed authority to contain and control the sexual practices and reproductive lives of black women and girls. During this era of great migrations, Caribbean medical Race Men remixed eugenicist ideologies, and harnessed their wealth and prestige to expand healthcare to black populations, defend black people from abuse by white doctors, and uplift themselves as biomedical patriarchs. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Wednesday, March 15, 2017 4:00–6:00 p.m. JHB 100A Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street

Phanuel Antwi (Department of English, University of British Columbia)

“On Labour, Embodiment, and Debt in the Academy” The point of this talk is to essay – in the old-fashioned sense of “try” – out an argument that grapples with the deteriorating effects that the neoliberal university, in its current state of extreme precarity, has on the bodies of (young) faculty of colour.  Mobilizing autobiography, poetry, and fiction to think through questions of embodiment, I will focus on academic labour and its often injurious dimensions.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017 

Rinaldo Walcott (Director of  Women & Gender Studies Institute and Associate Professor (OISE), University of Toronto University of Toronto)

“Black Movements:  Lampedusa, Black Lives Matter and Reorienting Freedom:  This paper works with a doubled notion of movement to link Black migrations and Black contemporary political movements. In the paper,  I argue that Black movements remake not only political and intellectual spaces but place as well. Black peoples desires for a kind of freedom we are yet to witness and or experience requires a radical reorientation to space and place that is psychical,  metaphorical and intellectual. When Black people move shifts occur.   This paper draws on the Black radical tradition to offer an account  of the political consequences of Black movements as those movements reshape our world.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017 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.

WGSI 2017 Doctoral Research Seminar Program