Notre Dame Gender Studies program to host conference
Kelli Smith | Thursday, March 2, 2017
Aiming at facilitating discussion on issues related to gender and race, the fourth biennial international Gender Studies Program Conference titled “Intersectional Inquiries and Collaborative Action: Gender and Race” is set to take place in McKenna Hall starting Thursday afternoon.
Organized by faculty and students associated with the Gender Studies Program, the three-day event will feature a multitude of guest speakers, artists and activists from across the nation and world who specialize in a variety of disciplines.
“The conference is bringing together some of the best and brightest people in intersectionality studies, but we are gathering not just to discuss research but also to strategize solutions for our world’s ongoing problems regarding race and gender,” Gender Studies Program director Mary Celeste Kearney said.
The conference will consist of roundtables, creative presentations, papers, two plenary sessions and a keynote address, all of which will feature an array of perspectives on topics related to the conference’s theme: intersections of race and gender.
“I think this conference may have more of an impact on our campus community than previous Gender Studies conferences, since it is not just focused on scholarship, but also art work and activism,” Kearney said. “The issues we’ll be discussing impact everyone, not just academics.”
According to the conference program, some of the topics that will be addressed at the conference are pay equity, equitable representation in the media, asylum seekers, the Black Lives Matter movement, feminist teaching and learning in secondary schools, sexual violence across a continuum of institutional systems, and women in active combat roles and in the government.
Students, faculty and staff can freely attend any session, but will not be given a name tag, program or food unless they register on-site for all three days.
“We have over 60 Notre Dame faculty, staff [and] students registered for the conference, which is far more than normal for Gender Studies’ conferences,” Kearney said.
The keynote address, titled “Sharpening Intersectionality’s Cutting Edge,” will be conducted by Professor Patricia Hill Collins, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. According to Kearney, Collins is “one of the most respected scholars on intersectionality today.”
As the only Notre Dame professor speaking at a plenary session, Atalia Omer, associate professor of religion, conflict, and peace studies in the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the sociology department, said she decided to participate in the conference because she is especially fascinated with the “intellectual insights of intersectionality” and how it has informed various social justice movements.
“Intersectionality should be a central component of our discussions at the [Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies],” Omer said. “It has not been and so my own engagement with this academic and activist sets of discourses is motivated partly by this failure of peace studies to more centrally integrate feminist modes of analysis and scholarship.”
Omer will be presenting on “Biopolitics and Borders: Intersectional Bodies and the Globalizing of Nation” through the perspective of a cultural sociologist of religion.
Many other Notre Dame professors, as well as scholars from universities in South Africa, Canada, Texas, Colorado, Maryland and plenty of other locations across the United States will also be presenting at the conference.
“It would be hard for me to compare this group of scholars to those who have come to other [Gender Studies] conferences, since the topics of each conference has been very different,” Kearney said. “But, given the conference theme, my guess is that we will have a far more racially diverse group than in previous years, and it’s likely that women of color will be in the majority.”