Sangita Gopal, associate director of CSWS, is the coordinator of the CSWS Women of Color Project. An associate professor in the UO Department of English with faculty appointments in the Cinema Studies Program and the Department of Comparative Literature, she has been teaching at UO since 2004. Professor Gopal grew up in Kolkata, India, and moved to the United States to attend graduate school at the University of Rochester in upstate New York, where she studied literary theory and film studies. She describes her research as being “located at the intersection of feminist media studies, postcolonial studies and globalization.” Professor Gopal is the author of Conjugations: Marriage and Form in New Bollywood Cinema (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), which “explored how cinema reimagined its representations of marriage in order to register shifts in gender identity and social relations activated by the socioeconomic processes of globalization.”
Her current book project grew out of her ongoing collaboration with a scholarly collective that researches transnational women’s cinema in conferences and workshops at various global locations. Entitled Between State and Capital: Women Make Movies, this book “examines the constellation of forces that enabled the rise of woman filmmakers in India. Based on archival research and extensive interviews with these media pioneers, the project suggests that the emergence of a state-owned new media—television—on the one hand and a new emphasis on part of the feminist movement on questions of identity and representation created the horizon of possibility for women’s media work.”
Both book projects have been supported by CSWS faculty research grants. But more importantly, says Dr. Gopal, CSWS through its research interest groups, Women of Color Project, and various events has allowed her over the years to enter into and learn from conversations with a broader community of feminist scholars working in various fields both within the university and outside it. CSWS has provided networking opportunities as well as intellectual camaraderie, feedback and mentoring. “My work but also my life here would not have been possible without this support,” she says.
Dr. Gopal also coedited the books Global Bollywood: Travels of Hindi Song and Dance (with Sujata Moorti; University of Minnesota Press, 2008), and Intermedia in South Asia: The Fourth Screen (with Rajinder Dudrah, Anustup Basu and Amit Rai; Routledge, 2012).
CSWS was awarded a Ford Foundation grant in March 2008 from the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW). “Diversifying the Leadership of Women’s Research Centers,” was meant to promote the leadership of women of color from historically underrepresented groups in the United States within NCRW and within its women’s research, policy, and advocacy member centers. CSWS and the UO Office of the Vice President for Research provided matching funds.
Originally formed as a CSWS Research Interest Group, Women of Color emerged as a CSWS project under the leadership of Lynn Fujiwara and Lamia Karim. Fujiwara is now head of the Department of Ethnic Studies. Karim is associate head and associate professor of the Department of Anthropology and served as CSWS associate director in academic years 2010-11 and 2011-12. Karim earlier received CSWS support for her work on feminist legal reform in Bangladesh.
“The project specifically designed for CSWS was to address the current and historical absence of women of color in leadership positions at the center,” said Professor Fujiwara.
2011 Report to the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW): Center for the Study of Women in Society, University of Oregon: Women of Color, Borders, and Power: Mentoring and Leadership
2010 CSWS Annual Review: see “The Women of Color Project.”
2009 CSWS Annual Review: see “Promoting and Diversifying Leadership,” by Lynn Fujiwara, Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies—The Women of Color Junior Faculty Project aims to diversify leadership at CSWS.
Report for 2011-12
This year, the energies of the Women of Color Project focused on the professional development of junior faculty by hosting two works-in-progress events. In the fall, historian Melissa Stuckey presented a chapter of her manuscript on the racial politics of Boley, an all-black town in Oklahoma. In winter, faculty from across campus provided feedback for Rocio Zambrana, an assistant professor of philosophy, who wrote an essay on “Critical Theory in a Neo-Liberal Age.”
During the winter quarter, members of the WOC Project began to develop a collaborative project that will result in a published volume about the experiences of women of color in the academy. Tentatively titled “Women of Color in the Academy: Critical Perspectives and Interventions,” this research project furthers the objectives of the CSWS Women of Color Project. The volume will explore the issues that women of color encounter in the academy and the ingenuity and collective effort it takes to stay and succeed at predominantly white universities like the University of Oregon.
Charise Cheney, associate professor, UO Department of Ethnic Studies, served as the 2011-2012 coordinator of the CSWS Women of Color Project. Cheney’s research interests include African-American popular and political cultures, black nationalist ideologies and practices, and gender and sexuality. She is the author of Brothers Gonna Work It Out: Sexual Politics in the Golden Age of Rap Nationalism (New York: New York University Press, 2005) and is currently working on a book about black resistance to school desegregation in Topeka, Kansas in the decade before Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. She earned her PhD at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.
In April 1974 the Combahee River Collective articulated in their “Black Feminist Statement” that the struggle against oppression must be understood in terms of intersecting forces of race, class, gender, and sexuality. The multiracial feminist movement that put forth this notion of intersectionality challenged universal notions of “woman,” and as a result developed a political momentum that has reshaped feminist thinking, politics, and organizing, challenging feminists to also consider how religion, nationality, ability, and age intersect in women’s everyday lives. Today, intersectionality has become a primary theoretical and methodological approach that has pushed feminist projects to embrace complex social relations and expressions of power. Intersectionality spans disciplinary boundaries, puts different types of scholars in direct conversation, and continues to challenge feminists to understand oppression relationally rather than hierarchically and universally.
“Centering Intersectionality,” a main component within CSWS’s Women of Color Project, highlights the significance and importance of interdisciplinary, intersectional work that continues to push feminist scholarship and research beyond simplistic binaries and arguments. Working off the foundation this project established during 2008-2009, we wish to continue building within CSWS a community of scholars invested in research that analyzes the intersections of race, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, citizenship, nationality, religion, and age.
Global Feminist Connections (GFC) is a project that takes the intersectionality framework to bring women’s global lives into the center of CSWS’s research projects. The challenge facing feminist scholars in the 21st century is the complex lived realities of women’s lives.
The GFC aims to facilitate scholarship that broadens understanding and cooperation between U.S.-based scholars and scholars in the developing south. Toward that end, GFC seeks to establish institutional links with feminist research centers in the global south that would create possibilities for collaborative research and exchanges between our faculty and theirs. We expect to create an environment of feminist scholarship that would create critical awareness of our interconnected lives in the 21st century, and lead to a richer body of feminist thought.
Women of Color Project Faculty Event Funding 2010-2011
During 2010-2011, the CSWS Women of Color Project will continue its work of institutionalizing diversity at the University of Oregon. Given the fact that the cohort of women of color faculty is small and tends to be more junior, we are providing research-related institutional funding (e.g. speakers, workshops, symposia, conferences, etc.) for this cohort in the coming year, particularly to support their own efforts within and across their departments and schools. Not only will this allow faculty members to develop mentoring networks that may not be otherwise possible at UO and to invite speakers and plan events related to their research areas and interests, it has the added benefit of promoting events concerning diversity campus-wide.
The funding is made possible by support from the offices of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.
Women of color faculty may submit applications for funding up to $1,000 that describe the relevance of their request to research on race and gender. WOC co-coordinators Lynn Fujiwara and Lamia Karim will review applications, and funding will be distributed on a first-come basis.
Friday, November 20, 2009: Book Proposal Workshop Noon to 2 p.m.
This faculty workshop features Ernesto Martínez’s book, Queer Race Narratives: On the Practice and Politics of Intelligibility
Noon to 2 p.m.
330 Hendricks Hall, Jane Grant Conference Room
Ernesto Martínez is an assistant professor in the UO Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. His book-in-progress, Queer Race Narratives, “turns to the literature and cultural production of gays and lesbians of color in the United States in order to answer some important questions in contemporary social theory regarding the nature of knowledge acquisition and knowledge production in oppressive contexts. Specifically, this book traces discourses of intelligibility, recurring preoccupations with the labor of making sense of oneself and of making sense to others in contexts of intense ideological violence and interpersonal conflict.”
Thursday, February 4, 2010: Gina Dent, “Transforming Feminisms”
As a professor of UC Santa Cruz’s Feminist Studies Department and director of the Institute for Advanced Feminist Research, Gina Dent has participated in the transformation of those institutional spaces. At UO, she will speak to CSWS affiliates about the challenges of institutionalizing the intersections of race and gender in women’s and gender studies departments and feminist research institutions, facilitating a discussion about how to do that work here.
Thursday, March 4, 2010: Film Showing—3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the EMU Ballroom
This event will feature the film “Finding Face” by filmmaker Patti Duncan.
From the Finding Face website: “‘Finding Face’ details the controversial case of Tat Marina, who was attacked with acid in Cambodia in 1999. At 16, Marina was a rising star in Phnom Penh’s karaoke music scene. She was coerced into an abusive relationship with Cambodia’s Undersecretary of State, Svay Sitha, and subsequently doused with a liter of nitric acid—allegedly by his wife—that disfigured her face. A decade later, despite the fact that there were multiple witnesses to the crime, no charges have ever been filed in the case.”
An associate professor of Women’s Studies at Oregon State University, Patti Duncan specializes in transnational feminist theories and movements, women of color in the United States, and Asian and Asian Pacific American women’s writings and experiences. She is the author of Tell This Silence: Asian American Women Writers and the Politics of Speech (University of Iowa Press, 2004).
Friday, May 21, 2010: 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.— in McKenzie Hall, room 125
“Gendered States: Rethinking Culture as a Site of South Asian Human Rights Work”
This lecture by Kamala Visweswaran explores the place of culture in debates about women’s rights in South Asia. In particular, it explores the nexus between human rights reporting on South Asia, feminist legal theory and gender asylum testimony.
Friday, May 21, 2010: A Faculty Seminar with Kamala Visweswaran
Educated at Stanford University and U.C. Berkeley, Kamala Visweswaran is an associate professor in Anthropology, Asian Studies and the South Asia Institute at the University of Texas, Austin. Her research is in women’s movements in South Asia; human rights; Subaltern studies; transnational and diaspora studies; feminist ethnography; and Indian literature in translation.
Visweswaran is the author of Fictions of Feminist Ethnography (1994), Uncommon Cultures (Duke, forthcoming) and Perspectives on South Asia (Blackwell, forthcoming).