Wednesday, December 19, 2012

From the June Mazer Lesbian Archives: Ruth Reid and Kent Hyde Collection

Materials from the Ruth Reid and Kent Hyde Collection 
include photos, newspaper clippings, articles, writings, and correspondence 
from their life together.

Working with the collections at the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives is a unique experience, each collection has its own sense of itself, serving as a window into individual lives, formative political moments and the growth and development of the lesbian community. One of the first collections that I processed was the Ruth Reid and Kent Hyde collection. Ruth and Kent were both writers, lifelong intellectuals, weavers and lovers. Their collection covers the duration of their relationship of over forty years. 

What makes this collection so rich is the breadth of materials which includes a large amount of correspondence between Ruth and Kent and an array of their friends and family. These letters range in subject matter and through their reading one can get a sense of each woman’s particular sense of humor, specific interests and professional tone.

Throughout their relationship, Kent passed as a man, working in research laboratories and hospitals. Ruth took care of Kent’s mother and kept writing. Their political consciousness evolved as they reacted to the dramatic changes in political and social realities in the United States. Also included in the collection is an illuminating interview, conducted by volunteers at the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives upon Ruth’s donation of the collection. After reflecting upon her and Kent’s life together, she also delves into the relief and sense of belonging she found once she actively sought out a lesbian community. Turning her efforts to activism in her later years she seems surprised at her and Kent’s own aversion to gay and lesbian life. Their collection serves to witness the intricate emotional, political and intellectual lives of these women while simultaneously reminding us that in order to understand the impact of change, we must look to the words of the people who weathered that change themselves. The Ruth Reid and Kent Hyde Collection has already been requested by researchers and Ruth herself used the interview done by the June L. Mazer Archives as an aid in writing her autobiography, which mainly focused on her relationship with Kent.

– Stacy Wood

Stacy Wood is a graduate student in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA and a graduate student researcher.


This research is part of an ongoing CSW research project, "Making Invisible Histories Visible: Preserving the Legacy of Lesbian Feminist Activism and Writing in Los Angeles," with Principal Investigators Kathleen McHugh, CSW DIrector and Professor in the Departments of English and Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA (on sabbatical from April to June, 2013) and Gary Strong, University Librarian at UCLA. Funded in part by an NEH grant, the project is a three-year project to arrange, describe, digitize, and make physically and electronically accessible two major clusters of June Mazer Lesbian Archive collections related to West Coast lesbian/feminist activism and writing since the 1930s. This project, which continues CSW’s partnership with the June Mazer Lesbian Archives and the UCLA Library, grew out of CSW’s two-year “Access Mazer: Organizing and Digitizing the Lesbian Feminist Archive in Los Angeles” project, which was supported in part by the UCLA Center for Community Partnerships. For information on the project, contact Dr. Julie Childers, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for the Study of Women,

The Mazer Archives is the sole archival repository on the West Coast dedicated to preserving lesbian and feminist history. Its holdings include over 3500 books, 1000 unique video and audio recordings, and close to a hundred unprocessed. This project will process and make accessible paper collections and recordings documenting lesbian political acts and effects in their communities, and materials documenting the lives and literary imagination of this burgeoning community. In addition to providing crucial materials to humanities scholars and historians, the project will also grow the Mazer’s infrastructure, preserving content that exists now while ensuring the future of the Mazer and its collections. Currently, the Mazer does not have the physical space to grow. Moving collections to the UCLA Library gives the Mazer the capacity to collect new materials and will enhance UCLA’s holdings in two significant areas of interest: LGBT archives and Los Angeles collections. Scholars and historians throughout the world will benefit directly from the primary research materials this project will make available.

“Trans-Temporality” and the Holidays

Heading into the holidays means scrambling to dot the Is and cross the Ts on our calendar of Winter and Spring quarter events. In my capacity as faculty of English, Gender Studies, and Asian American Studies, it also means squeezing in graduate student prospectus exams that have been put off until these final weeks of the year. With such an exam on the horizon, Gender Studies Ph.D. candidate Jacob Lau, who writes on narratives by transgendered and transsexual subjects, came into the CSW offices recently to discuss his ideas regarding “trans-temporality,” the central idea of his dissertation. According to Lau, the life-course of transsexual subjects is too often divided into before and after the visible (hormonal and surgical) change. As an alternative to that bifurcated and linear notion of time, Lau is proposing a richer, more complex interweaving of several temporalities: “secular historical time”—i.e., the national chronologies that we learn about in high school social studies classes—but also time conceived in religious, liturgical, and seasonal cycles as well as the daily round of events that French theorist Helene Cixous suggestively called “women’s time.” Aware that our own Chancellor Bloch is a chronobiologist, [1] Jacob may also consider the periodicity of wake-sleep cycles as they affect hormonal regulation in a “trans-gendering” context.

The timing of our conversation, of course, could not have been more situationally ironic with respect to the ticking minutes of our respective deadlines (cue sound effect of alarm bells ringing): for Jacob, his exam date that coming Thursday, and for me, the closing of the CSW offices for the winter break and the time squeeze represented by the upcoming holidays. For working mothers like myself, elementary school closures—such as the recent five-day closure of all LAUSD schools that occurred Thanksgiving week (due to budget cuts and forced teacher furlough days)—means having to juggle childcare even as the teaching, research, and administrative clock at the university marches indifferently forward. As Jacob might put it, I had experienced holiday time as a rupture of two chronologies that were  “immiscible” (non-mixing, as in the example of oil and water). Spending time with my three daughters is not about the efficient use of the eight working hours before me (at which I’ve become adept over my tenure as Associate and now Interim Director), but using up the time in pleasurable but focused tasks so that no one kills each other by 2 p.m.

Speaking about furloughs as forced experiences of temporal disjunction (between UCLA time and home time), I thanked Jacob for his insight into how trans-temporality applied to my present circumstances. Though intending to narrowly focus this directory’s commentary on the productivity of thinking Lau’s trans-temporality and Holiday Time together, an email alerting me to an upcoming forum on the current “campus climate” sponsored by the Asian and Pacific Islander Coalition intervened in those plans (and lengthened the writing time) by bringing local, national, and transnational histories to the forefront.

By “campus climate,” I refer to that cyclic return—coincident with the advent of exam season—of anti-Asian verbal sentiment lying dormant for who knows how long in UCLA’s basement (bathrooms), bubbling up into public spaces such as Bruin Walk and the internet two years running: see and

The university has called this lashing out at Japanese-speaking and Vietnamese female students “isolated” acts, and we could imaginatively fill in the details of that speculated narrative: these acts of poor judgment were likely committed by stressed-out individuals (of who knows what race, sexual orientation, or gender) who blame Asians for their perceived and real worries over not doing well in the short term—those upcoming essays and exams—and the long term—their post-baccalaureate futures.

Shrinking opportunities for U.S. college graduates are certainly real: “From 2007 to 2011, the wages of young college graduates, adjusted for inflation, declined 4.6 percent,” according to the New York Times,[2] and a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly reported that “53% of recent college grads are jobless or underemployed.”[3] We might connect that shrinkage not to loss of jobs due to foreign workers but to the waning social compact between college students (so-called skilled workers of the professional managerial class) and the faceless corporations and “asset management firms” who form their potential employers. These firms no longer feel bad, if they ever did, about pink-slipping and downsizing the debits—and not people—that they “hold.” But, of course, it is hard to lash out against an abstraction—aka the fictive "person" of the corporation—and much easier to return to old habits—habits that both demonize Asians as foreign threats and desire and disavow them as docile, servile laborers necessary to propping up the U.S. empire—doing intimate labor such as sex work servicing of U.S. military bases and electronic assembly work that powers our info technology (iPads, computers).[4]

Holiday, we must remember, refers as well to times of off-duty “rest and relaxation” that were the flipside of the on-duty deployments of U.S. troops to Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos during the so-called Cold War period. The slur calling Vietnamese female students “white-boy worshipping wh***s” reminds us of the U.S. military occupations of Asia (e.g., Okinawa and the Philippines), the infrastructural support of U.S. troops by “ghost” bar workers, and the white supremacy that remains partially congruent with the militarized spread of U.S. capital into those same former “theaters of war” qua Asian consumer markets. The surplus of time to indulge in off-duty, non-working pleasures—that which I’m associating with “holiday time”—has never quite felt like a holiday for others working in nail salons, electronic factories, sex work, childcare, eldercare, and other occupations requiring intimate labors on the part of women of color. As we become more service-oriented in our economy, what may be resented—and voiced as slur against Asian/American women—is the feminized situation of having to give our intimate labors—our good feelings and non-progressive, non-upward-bound time—to serve someone else’s holiday. Tis the season of thinking such temporal convergences for women, men, and transitioning women and men, of all races.

— Rachel Lee
Interim Director



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mood and Math

While usually my girls (ages seven, five, and five) are excited by the prospect of red and white pinwheel mints awaiting them in the post-voting area, this time around they were not so thrilled to go. I found myself speaking an extra cheerful running monologue on how great it was that we were going to decide who would be president, smiling widely at those who were leaving our polling place having cast their ballots, but getting only tight perfunctory smiles in return. “I’m scared. Too many people,” said one of my twins from behind the curtain she’d created out of my pant leg as I inked my ballot. Later, when dropping the girls at school, our kindergarten teacher shared her own thoughts on the election: “The mood is so different, not like the last presidential election where everyone was so hopeful. You can feel it; I’m very worried.”

In hindsight, it is easy to proclaim the Democrats overly pessimistic and Republicans overly optimistic. The mood on campus was palpably anxious on the day before the election. Even those wiser friends using New York Times statistician Nate Silver’s reports as flu shots in the days leading up to the election were infected by the smog-stress.

What do we make of this striking dissonance between mood—emotional rhetoric aka spin doctoring—and math? Or put another way, how might gender and feminism help us to understand that mood and math? Math, or at least layman invocations of 1%, 99%, 47%—statistical language to express discontent and sense of shrinking opportunity—were certainly crucial to the outcome of this election. For higher education in particular, the dueling arithmetic on which proposition (30 or 38) gave what percentage of revenue garnered from which formula of income or sales tax on which percent of the population filled the yahoo boards of bantering mommies, at least at my local public magnet, with confusion and minor disagreements. How do these local events draw upon and transform stereotypes of boys being good at math and girls at social and emotional intelligence, when the Biggest Boy Rove had clearly ignored the math and succumbed to his own rhetorical (terrorizing, falling of a cliff) spin on Obama’s stewardship of the nation and the American people’s lack of faith in it?

While not having the answers to the above questions, I offer them as provocation not to fetishize statistics and clear calculations (the hagiography of Nate Silver already does that) but to contemplate seriously the social and civil mood—aka the qualitative atmosphere of our decision-making processes and political action. The late scholar and polymath Teresa Brennan, who was also concerned with the way we could feel the atmosphere upon entering a room, used the term “affect” to name the circulating vital energies carried by hormones, pheromones, and other airborne neurochemicals. Using diverse sources—from biochemistry, neurology, theology, crowd theory, clinical practice, and psychoanalysis—Brennan takes aim at the “foundational fantasy” that we are self-contained individuals and pursues the longstanding (ancient) understanding of a “social wellspring” from which affects flow and in which our bodies are bathed. In this portrait, humans are nodal points for the transfer, projection, reception, and transformation of depleting and enhancing energies among and between us. We attach the agitation in the air felt by our bodies to some narrative that makes sense of it. Put more concretely, campaign discourse filled the air to such an extent that it became a tropical storm—a worry that became “Obama’s not going to be re-elected” or “Obama’s going to be re-elected.”

Useful for my purposes here (the tie-in to electoral politics, if only punningly), Brennan spoke of “the masculine party,” populated by beings of either sex, projecting their unwanted affects, such as aggression, onto a “feminine” other. Also a being of either sex, this “feminine” party internalizes that aggression as depression or anxiety: “The feminine party, while carrying the masculine other’s disordered affects, also gives that other living attention…Depression, in men or women, is a feminine affect, aggression a masculine one” (43). Speaking of affects as circulating vital energies (of aggression, depression, and caring attention), Brennan uses her gendered terms to differentiate the habituated, somaticized modes connected to historical divisions of labor wherein the masculine party (and she extends this to colonizers) directs negative emotions outward via aggression toward others, whereas the feminine party (and she extends this to the colonized and poor) serves as receptacles of that emotional dumping.

For me the most salient post-election report came from NPR coverage of women’s role in government that led with numbers highlighting the disparity between the percentage of women in the electorate (women are 50.8% of the U.S. population and 52% of likely voters) and the percentage of female congressional representatives (18–19% in the House and 20% in the Senate).[1] What gave flesh to these statistics, however, was not the math (the difference between the figures) but the subsequent salience of that accounting told in this anecdote: women speak less in absolute, durational terms and less about the issues they care about unless there is a parity threshold of women in the room, not because they are naturally silent (passive) but because men (here synonymous with Brennan’s masculine parties) regularly cut them off with much greater frequency than they do their male counterparts.[2] (When men are in the minority, however, they do not correspondingly speak less.) If we explained this difference only in terms of the numbers, well, we couldn’t explain it at all. Changing the mood in the United States thus becomes a matter of both the math and feminine affect.

Let me finish this opening Interim Director’s reflection not by arguing that the calculative reasoning—aka “the math”—reigns the day, but that our emotional intelligence has been severely narrowed by the habit of silo-ization (going it alone, maverick reliance on only the self), one supported by the ideology of neoliberalism—the idea not only that the market decides everything best but that the social sphere should bear all of the costs of industries and markets while all of the profit of the same should accrue to the private sphere. Our social sphere becomes that which should also bear the dumping of incredible aggressive “masculine” external energies…and who exactly is internalizing those energies and reshaping them?

— Rachel Lee
Interim Director

[1] These figures are from the  2010 census and a Gallup poll from the most recent election.
[2] Or unless the deliberative body makes conscious efforts toward procedural inclusivity. See Tali Mendelberg’s contribution to the segment of “To the Point: Women’s Issues across Party Lines” hosted by Warren Olney and broadcast on Friday, November 9, 2012. According to Mendelberg, the issues women care about include healthcare for the poor, taking care of the disabled, and tending to the needs of children. See also Mendelberg and Christopher Karpowitz’s New York Times Op-Ed “More Women, but Not Nearly Enough,” on November 8, 2012,

Monday, November 26, 2012

Charis Thompson: "Three Times a Woman: A Gendered Economy of Stem Cell Innovation"

Charis Thompson
In her recent Life (Un)Ltd presentation, “Three Times a Woman: A Gendered Economy of Stem Cell Innovation,” Charis Thompson discussed the state of stem cell research in a pro-curial economy—that is, an economy that emphasizes the cure potential of stem cell research rather than the debate around the embryos used. Thompson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley, as well as the Associate Director of Berkeley’s Science, Technology, and Society Center, said that the anatomy of the state-based science economy has three parts, all connected to the question of how to sell the idea of voting for science that is ethically questionable and federally underfunded. The first part is pro-cures rhetoric to communicate that people are voting for cures, adding a moral imperative to the discourse. The second is procurement, the focus on which bypasses embryo politics. The third is biocuration, referring to chains of custody for, bookkeeping of, and compliance with stem cell research. Thompson pointed out that women are central to these issues: they are linked to them by virtue of occupying related positions as voters, care-ers, funders, advocates, and body labor and body parts donators, among other things.

In the first segment of her presentation, Thompson asked what happens when public funding of science research moves from the federal level to the state level. She said that “basic science” is good for the economy, that its results trickle down beneficially. This kind of research, when federally funded, is “firewalled” by the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, and Department of Energy, which are staffed by experts and use extensive peer review and analysis to review grant requests.  When science is state-funded, there is a change to the social contract, Thompson said, in that direct democracy allows the public to vote directly for funding research. In 2004, California’s Proposition 71 made stem cell research a constitutional right. Section 4 of Article XXXV was added to the California Constitution to support stem cell research, yet the terms “women,” “embryo,” and “egg” do not appear in the legislation. This is perhaps ironic since women in California voted for Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election—essentially, they voted pro-cures. Thompson said that women voted for and paid for (via their taxes) the research, but it is unclear whether or how they will benefit from it.

Next, Thompson discussed egg donor protection. She said that embryo politics became operationalized around the concept of what an “acceptable donation” is. California has become an embryo “tourist destination” because of the low restrictions on embryos in the state. Donations are often sought from college students, who are eugenically desirable and need the money that comes from donating. Thompson said that egg donor protection has become the women’s issue since Prop 71 passed, though this fact is sometimes mocked as paternalistic or even maternalistic. Lastly, Thompson raised some common questions about donors, including whether they should be paid, whether they should receive financial or health incentives, and whether they are being paid for bodily labors. She said that some of the usual forms of payment to donors are medical care benefits, the satisfaction of being part of the scientific process, and, through their participation, being on the fast track to experiencing the fruits of the research they assisted.

In talking about biocuration, Thompson used a certain company, which went unnamed, as an example. To further its stem cell research, the company was getting women to donate their eggs, but ran into financial trouble. Its venture capitalist support wasn’t in favor of scientific research, which it saw as too long-term for its investment. The company needed grants approved to continue its research, so in the meantime it turned to producing biological tools and cosmetics—a heavily gendered product, as Thompson pointed out. The marketing rhetoric for the cosmetics focused on “regenerative” words, linking its aims back to the company’s stem cell research. Overall, the company’s example calls into question the issues of research funding and transparency.

Lastly, Thompson discussed what should be done about these issues. She mentioned “The Belmont Report,” an ethics-in-research document from the late 1970s whose three principles are respect for persons, beneficence, and justice in the selection of research subjects; Thompson added that there might be disproportionate use of some women enrolled in stem cell research. Thompson also said a rhetorical change is needed. Gendered, raced, and classed benefits and demands of the innovative economy should be sought out and named. The Prop 71 text should use “women,” “egg,” and “embryo” in its language. And the promissory genre of Prop 71 should be made clear, with the likely and possible uncertainties and unintended consequences spelled out. (For example, “We might make cosmetics while we raise another round of venture capital,” and, “Not every taxpayer will have full access to the fruits of this research.”) People should know, Thompson said, what they’re contributing to in an innovation economy.

Thompson ended with a few questions for thought: Would the public vote for science in conditions of great hope, uncertainty, inequality, and possible trivialization? If not, should Prop 71 not have been funded? Should the nation remain the primary spender of tax money on research? And how do we revisit the social contract where science is involved?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jean-Marie Apostolidès and the Society of the Spectacle

“Spectacle and Spectator: Ways of Seeing and Being Seen” was a recent conference organized by the UCLA Graduate Students Association of the Department of French and Francophone Studies and the Department of French and Francophone Studies. The conference’s keynote speaker was Professor Jean-Marie Apostolidès, Stanford University, whose October 12, 2012, talk was titled “Are We a Society of the Spectacle?”

Apostolidès explained how he has a critical view—what he called a “love-hate relationship”—with Guy Debord, whose theories on consumerism and spectacle have been an important part of Apostolidès’s work. The society of the spectacle, Apostolidès said, started in the 1920s with the rise of advertising; mass media and consumerism have taken over genuine human interaction in the decades since. In his 1967 book on the topic, Debord posited that life has been replaced with its representation via the central position of images in modern life. He defined “spectacle” as a system of consumer culture, commodity fetishism, and mass media.

Apostolidès pointed out how patriarchy is a key part of the society of the spectacle’s global construction, and how 1968 saw the “symbolic destruction” of patriarchy (symbolic because the two World Wars killed off “the idea of the father”).  In his own country, Apostolidès said, accepting French collaboration during WWII helped end the influence of parents and patriarchy. As a result, younger people in France came into power, which the older generation gave up because they knew the accusations were true.

After 1968, new technology developed, digitizing the modern world. This new technological society permitted everything to be transformed into images. (Apostolidès added that money, despite being an image, wasn’t included in this change, as it became magnetic—and therefore invisible—through credit cards and other means.) Relevant to the new society was Marx’s idea of use value vs. exchange value: images allow the use value in the contemporary world, while money permits everything to be transformed into exchange value. Apostolidès mentioned the films La jetée and Vertigo as examples of worlds where it’s impossible to distinguish between image and reality; similarly, he said, one cannot separate “actors”—the bourgeois class—and spectacle, and they are both essential parts of the society of the spectacle. (Here Apostolidès joked that he is like Moses, trying to lead the way to a society without spectacle, which he will never see.)

A major element of today’s society of the spectacle is the image of ourselves created by what people say about us online. Apostolidès calls this image the “mediatic ego,” and said that it is important, for example, when finding a job: employers search online for job applicants’ online presence. He described the mediatic ego as being “someone who bears my name and is not me, yet it is me, and [it] affects me finding a job or sexual partner.” The mediatic ego is bigger than the real self, and the problem therein is how to balance the two. Apostolidès also pointed out that in the past only some people (actors, etc.) had public images, whereas in today’s world most people do, to some extent, due to technology advances.

Apostolidès also discussed how film has played a role in the society of the spectacle. He argued that actors have been portrayed differently, and had a different impact, over the last hundred years: the “idol” of the silent era—Garbo, Brooks—who created a goddess-like ideal of femininity; the “star” of the years between WWI and WWII—Bardot, Monroe, Crawford—who created a “circulation” between young people, giving them an image to copy in order to create a personal self; and the “negator” of today—Huppert, Kidman—who are no longer stars. Apostolidès claimed that modern actors are unable to play things that are unlike themselves, contributing to a society of representation. Additionally, theater has undergone huge transformations recently: theatricality is no longer as obvious as it used to be. Apostolidès said that actors today often dialogue with the audience, and that many plays transform into a monologue with the audience. He distinguished between traditional theater, with personages and auditions that use Shakespeare passages, and modern theater, with actors playing characters similar to themselves and auditions of original monologues.

As for whether the society of the spectacle will last, Apostolidès said it depends. If we are at the beginning of a new kind of civilization, it might last for centuries to come. This generation is, Apostolidès said, between the influence of parents and whatever will come next. The next several generations will certainly be transformative, and technology may ultimately decide future changes. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Strangers in a Strange Land: Art, Aesthetics, and Displacement

Cities I Called Home, 2010
"Strangers in a Strange Land: Art, Aesthetics, and Displacement" is a two-day symposium organized by UCLA faculty members Saloni Mathur and Aamir Mufti to be held in conjunction with "Zarina: Paper Like Skin," the upcoming retrospective exhibition on the art of Zarina Hashmi. A New York-based artist of South Asian origin, Hashami has created an extraordinary body of minimalist works on paper that spans a period of some 40 years. The symposium will bring together scholars of a range of disciplines from literary studies to musicology to art history to examine some of the themes that animate Zarina’s work. The discussion will place her art at the intersection of important social, political, and cultural processes in contemporary global society, showing how it exemplifies the exilic imagination in modern art and aesthetic thinking.

Themes of displacement, dislocation, and dispossession become manifest in Zarina’s work through a tension posed by the stark geometrical minimalism of her canvas and its rich textural materiality. Zarina’s keen interest in geometry—she received a B.Sc. degree with honors from India’s Aligarh Muslim University in 1958 before studying woodblock printing and intaglio—is explicit in her work’s emphasis on structure, held in contrast with the actual substance of medium and technique: incision, puncturing, weaving, and sculpture. The tension holds a particular and vital role in establishing a critique and meditation in terms of the viscera of geographical memory and the stringency of imposed border control, colonial geography, and forced exile.

As art critic S. Kalidas remarks in a 2011 article in The Hindu, Zarina’s voice “raises oblique queries but refrains from making any final pronouncements.” Her work, as the artist herself states, participates in “observing spaces and distances,” with meditation on space and observer alike. “She takes her tactic,” writes Kalidas, “from the medieval Sufis who spurred inquiry into mathematics, astronomy, mysticism, metaphysics, music, and poetry and in doing so subverted the religious and political establishments of the day in favour of inclusion of the popular and the marginal. If ilm (knowledge), ishq (love) and haal (ecstasy) were their spectacular modes of protest and enlightenment, Zarina combines all three in her meditative art.”

"Paper Like Skin" reveals the breadth of Zarina’s vision and the versatility of her practice,” explains Hammer director Ann Philbin. “It joins a series of survey exhibitions organized by the Hammer that highlights important but under-recognized female artists such as Lee Bontecou and, most recently, Alina Szapocznikow. The presentation of Zarina’s work also emphasizes the museum’s commitment to the study and collection of works on paper through its Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts.”

Journey to the Edge of Land, 199

"Strangers in a Strange Land: Art, Aesthetics, and Displacement" will be held November 8th and 9th at UCLA’s Hammer Museum in Westwood. Homi Bhabha, Harvard University, will deliver the keynote address on November 8th at 7 pm. The symposium will take place on November 9th from 11 am to 5 pm. The event is cosponsored by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, Dean of the Humanities, Department of Art History, and Department of Comparative Literature.

For more information, see:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

UCLA Queer Studies Conference 2012: Friday, October 19

Organized by Maylei Blackwell and Uri McMillan, Queer of Color Genealogies, the UCLA Queer Studies Conference 2012, will take place this Friday, October 19, in 314 Royce Hall. Free and open to the public, the conference will feature four panels and two keynote addresses on a variety of Queer Studies topics. The panels of the one-day conference are: "Addressing the Community Needs of LGBT Youth of Color," featuring Laura E. Durso
, Angeliki Kastanis
, and Lisa Powell; "Queer Indigeneities Unsettling Settler Colonialism," featuring Jodi A. Byrd
, Qwo-Li Driskill, and 
Dan Taulapappa McMullin; "The Other Archive of Desire: Remapping LGBT Histories," featuring Kai M. Green, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, 
Horacio N. Roque Ramírez, and Alice Y. Hom; and "Transnational Aesthetics/Erotics," featuring Vanessa Agard-Jones, 
Chitra Ganesh, Lawrence La Fontaine-Stokes, and 
Roy Pérez. Panel presenters include scholars from a range of universities, as well as non-academic professionals in fields such as law and art. 

Sandra K. Soto, Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies, University of Arizona, is the morning keynote speaker. Her presentation is titled “For Those Who Were Never Meant to Survive: Queering Attrition in Arizona.” Soto's work focuses on Chicana/o and Latina/o literary and cultural studies, feminist theory, gender studies, and queer theory. Her latest, in-progress book uses queer theories to explore how critical transnational studies and U.S. ethnic studies connect in unexpected ways. At the University of Arizona, Soto is an Executive Committee Member of the Institute of LGBT Studies, as well as an affiliate of English, the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Mexican American Studies and Research Center.

Jafari Sinclaire Allen, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and African American Sudies, Yale University, is the afternoon keynote speaker. His presentation is titled “All the Things We Are Now: A Meditation on Black Queer Genealogies.” Allen’s work explores (queer) sexuality, gender, and blackness. He teaches courses on the cultural politics of race, sexuality, and gender in Black diasporas; Black feminist and queer theory; and ethnography methodology and writing, among other subjects. Allen has written ¡Venceremos?: The Erotics of Black Self-Making in Cuba (Duke University Press, Fall 2011) and edited Black/Queer/Diaspora, a special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. He is currently researching cultural and political circuits of transnational queer desire in travel, tourism, (im)migration, art, and activism.

Maylei Blackwell is an Assistant Professor in the César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies and Women's Studies Department, and is affiliated faculty in the American Indian Studies and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies departments. Her research analyzes how women's social movements in the U.S. and Mexico are shaped by race, indigeneity, class, sexuality, and citizenship status, and how these factors impact the possibilities and challenges of transnational organizing. Most recently, she has sought to understand new forms of grassroots transnationalism by conducting research with farm worker women and indigenous migrants. Her latest book is ¡Chicana Power!: Contested Histories of Feminism in the Chicano Movement (University of Texas Press, 2011).

Uri McMillan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English. His research interests include cultural studies, feminist theory, queer studies, African American literature, and post-colonial literature and theory, and he has taught courses on contemporary African American literature, U.S. gay and lesbian history, post-Stonewall GLBT literature, narratives of racial difference, and Black and Latino popular culture and performance, among other topics. He has a manuscript titled Embodied Avatars: The Art of Black Performance under contract at New York University Press.

The UCLA Queer Studies Conference 2012 has been organized by Maylei Blackwell and Uri McMillan for the UCLA Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Program, with generous support from:

David Bohnett Foundation, UCLA Division of Humanities, UCLA Division of Social Sciences, UCLA Graduate Division, UCLA Office of Faculty Diversity and Development, UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics, UCLA Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies, UCLA Asian American Studies Center, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA Center for Jewish Studies, UCLA Center for the Study of Women, UCLA Interdepartmental Program in Afro-American Studies, and the UCLA departments of Anthropology, Art History, Asian American Studies, Asian Languages and Cultures, Chicana/o Studies, Comparative Literature, English, Film Television and Digital Media, French and Francophone Studies, Gender Studies, Germanic Languages, History, Information Studies, Musicology, Psychology, Sociology, and Theater.

For more conference information, visit:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Charis Thompson: "Three Times a Woman: A Gendered Economy of Stem Cell Innovation"

Charis Thompson
It's often argued that the methods of science reflect and reinscribe the theories and contradictions concerning gender and sexuality. In terms of the "stem cell science of gender," the debate engages theories concerning the moral status of the asexual embryo of somatic cell nuclear transfer, and the problem of how one can legitimately characterize the status of an embryo (for which there is no meiosis, no fertilization) within a heteronormative ethical framework. Charis Thompson—professor and chair of the Department of Gender and Women's Studies at UC Berkeley and associate director of the UC Berkeley Center for Science, Technology, and Medicine in Society—has spent her career engaging such bioethical concerns from a plethora of angles, situating the debate in its scientific, technical, moral, political, and financial ramifications. Her work explores the area in terms specific to stem cell research and its legislature, as well as to the bioethics of assisted reproductive technologies. As Thompson argues, social problems are increasingly funneled through questions of biomedicine, and so it has become the task of the bioethicist and the public alike to assess such problems within full view of the "choreography" of biology, society, and the individual, to the broad range of political and moral possibilities inherent in the development of technoscience.

Making Parents: The
Ontological Choreography of
Reproductive Technologies
(MIT Press, 2005)
Beyond inquiry into the ontological status of the asexual embryo and its associated politics, Thompson has argued that the gendering of regenerative (stem cell) medicine as a practice is complicated on two fronts: the rise of egg donation for research as the women's issue and the role of the market (as well as the academy and public) in "procurial" life science. The question of whether egg donor protection is by nature an instrinsic women's issue is further negotiated within the intersection of national and transnational economies, as well as economic health care disparity as it concerns race and class, policy and national health care priorities, and the public interest.

Thompson's upcoming presentation, "Three Times a Woman: A Gendered Economy of Stem Cell Innovation," promises to be a powerful insight into the gendered divisions inherent in the institution of regenerative medical research. The presentation, organized by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, will be held Wednesday, October 24th, at 3 pm in Humanities 193.