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: http://hammer.ucla.edu/programs/detail/program_id/1433

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: http://lgbtstudies.ucla.edu/events/upcoming-events.html

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.