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Symposium to debate women in battles

Megan O'Neil | Friday, March 18, 2005

In this time of world conflict, conscientious Saint Mary’s students may wonder what their roles as women in a troubled society should be. To help answer this question, the Saint Mary’s women’s studies program is hosting a week-long symposium entitled “Women, War, and Peace: Feminist Interventions in a Time of Conflict” in conjunction with Women’s History Month.

The third annual women’s symposium, which will run through next Wednesday, features several women’s studies scholars and feminist artists and is focused on the role of women in situations of armed conflict.

“It seemed like an appropriate theme given what is going on in the world,” women’s studies department chair Astrid Henry said. “We thought it was a very timely and important subject.”

The week of events officially began Tuesday with a lecture given by Cynthia Enloe, a feminist author and professor at Clark University. Enloe discussed feminist perspectives on the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Another part of the symposium, a large photography exhibit by Iraqi-Palestinian-American photographer Sama Alshaibi titled “Where Do Birds Fly After the Last Sky,” is currently on display in the Cushwa-Leighton Library. The self-portrait series includes images of Alshaibi, some of them nude, well advanced in the stages of pregnancy.

“We were trying to balance more intellectual and scholarly approaches with more creative approaches,” CWIL fellow and symposium organizer Maria Melendez said.

Events yesterday featured poet Yosefa Raz and Israeli author and peace activist Rela Mazali.

Raz is currently a professor of world mythology at Diablo Valley College in California and her writing appears in numerous publications including Jewish Currents and Margie: The American Journal of Poetry.

Mazalo is the former director of projects and development for the Association of Israeli Palestian Physicians for Human Rights and has spent years working to end occupation of the Palestinian territories. In addition to her talk on mid-east peace activism Thursday Mazalo will read excerpts from her book “Maps of Women’s Goings and Stayings” today at noon in Madeleva Hall.

The symposium continues Monday at 7 p.m. with a showing of the film “Independent Media in a Time of War” featuring Amy Goodman. Psychology Chair Professor Joe Miller will lead a discussion about media coverage of war following the screening.

Founder and director of Women In Media & News (WIMNN) Jennifer Pozner will speak Tuesday March 22 in a lecture titled “Media, Women and War: How Does the Invisibilty of Women’s Voices in War Coverage Shortchange America?” Pozner is a former director of the Women’s Desk for FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting), a national media watch group.

The symposium will wrap up Wednesday with a poetry reading by Palestinian-American writer and scholar Lisa Suhair Majaj. Born in Iowa and raised in Jordan, Majaj currently lives in Nicosia, Cyprus and studies issue of self-identity in Arab-American literature and culture.

Meledez called the symposium especially significant in the all women’s environment of Saint Mary’s.

“I think it is especially exciting [to have the event] on a women’s campus so students can have access to difference women’s perspectives … and can see the women can have powerful voices,” she said.