Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

CSW Welcomes Renee Tajima-Peña to UCLA

The newest addition to the Department  of Asian American Studies at UCLA, Renee Tajima-Peña will begin work as Professor of Asian American Studies and Alumni and Friends of Japanese American Ancestry Endowed Chair in July. She will also direct the Center for EthnoCommunications at UCLA, housed in the Asian American Studies Center. Tajima-Peña is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker whose work focuses on Asian American and immigrant communities, race, gender, and social justice.  Her directing credits include the documentaries Calavera Highway, Skate Manzanar, Labor Women, My America...or Honk if You Love Buddha and Who Killed Vincent Chin? Her films have premiered at the Cannes, Sundance, and Toronto film festivals, and she has received the Peabody Award, Dupont-Columbia Award, Alpert Award in the Arts, USA Broad Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is currently a Professor of Film & Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz, where she has been instrumental in launching the Graduate Program in Social Documentation.

Tajima-Peña has been deeply involved in the Asian American independent film community as an activist, writer, and filmmaker.  She was the first paid director at Asian Cine-Vision in New York and a founding member of the Center for Asian American Media (formerly National Asian American Telecommunications Association). She was a film critic for The Village Voice, a cultural commentator for National Public Radio, and the editor of Bridge: Asian American Perspectives. Her current works are No Más Bebés Por Vida (No More Babies For Life), a documentary and transmedia project, and Heart Mountain 3.0, an interactive history documentary using the Minecraft video game. No Más Bebés Por Vida is an investigation of the coercive sterilization of Mexican American women at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the 1960s and 1970s. The transmedia project will consist of a theatrical documentary, television broadcast, and web interactive project that connects the LAC-USC story to the growing movement for reproductive justice.

In May 2012, Tajima-Peña's took part in CSW's "Life (Un)Ltd: A Symposium on Feminism, Race, and Biopolitics" event. Life (Un)Ltd., the interdisciplinary project initiated by Rachel Lee in 2011, engages recent developments in biosciences and biotechnology, foregrounding critical, aesthetic, and ethics based approaches to what have become global research and marketing industries. The symposium that Tajima-Peña contributed to addressed questions of how biosciences and biotechnology have changed the very idea of life, how the experiences of those changes have differed among various populations and demographics, and what new global markers of difference bioscience and biotechnology introduce. The guest speakers explored how non-normatively gendered bodies, poor women’s bodies, colored bodies, and colonized bodies serve as opportune sites and sources for medical and other types of research and experimentation, the benefits of which are generally marketed to and realized by white affluent bodies. As part of the Life (Un)Ltd project, Rachel Lee is editing a special issue of the Scholar and Feminist, which will appear in October of 2013. Tajima-Peña's contribution will discuss the No Más Bebés Por Vida project

Monday, April 15, 2013

The UCLA Library Baby Books Collection: A Mother Lode for Developmental Research

Thursday, April 25
Noon–1 p.m.
Charles E. Young Research Library
Presentation Room

Eight years ago, UCLA Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences started building a collection of baby record books from the nineteenth century to the present. In these charming memory books, parents were encouraged to record a child’s activities and developmental milestones and save precious mementos including first teeth, locks of hair, and photographs.

Today, the collection features more than seven hundred titles and editions, with more than thirteen hundred different copies, the earliest of which dates from the 1870s. Although the collection development strategy focuses on infant development, health, and illness, the books and their handwritten and pasted-in contents have been used for research in sociology, material culture, linguistics, architecture, advertising, and other topics and disciplines.

Curator/Librarian Russell A. Johnson will show highlights of this fascinating collection and discuss its development and research potential. His presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer period.

UCLA Library Curators’ Conversations is an occasional series that explores Library collections and projects with the staff who acquire and make them available. You are welcome to bring your lunch; coffee and cookies will be served.

Seating is limited. RSVP to UCLA Library Development at rsvp@library.ucla.edu.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

From the June Mazer Lesbian Archives: Elaine Mikels Papers, 1977-1984

One of the processed collections from the June Mazer Lesbian Archives now available for viewing in UCLA Library’s Digital Collections is the Elaine Mikels Papers, 1977-1984. 

Mikels was born in 1921 in Los Angeles and spent much of her early life there. Like many other closeted women coming of age in the 1940s, she had little concept of how to deal with her own relationships, much less how to build community though shared interests. In the late 1960s, she became, in her own estimation, political. She supported the anti-war movement, joined lesbian-feminist communities in Oregon, and participated in peace actions. In 1976 she founded the Older Women’s Network in order to bring older lesbian feminists together to share resources and achieve their activist goals. She would go on to participate in similar groups and helped to found the group Older Lesbians Organizing for Change. Mikels eventually settled in Santa Fe, NM, but most of the photographic collection represents the years she lived in Oregon and North Carolina.

Most of the collection is composed of about 200 photographs taken by Mikels. Included are scenes of activist gatherings, social gatherings and sports clubs, writing groups. One set of photos, titled “Dyke Olympics,”  includes photos of women lifting weights, wrestling, sprinting, and wearing togas from an event held in 1983. Another includes photos of women working on roofing a house. Softball games are the subject of another series. Mikels participated in demonstrations including Nuclear Disarmament Rally in 1982, a PeaceWalk from Durham, NC, to Seneca Peace Camp, which took place from June 3 to July 4, 1983, and PeaceWalk from Gainesville, FL, to Key West, FL, in 1984. Also represented in the collection are photographs documenting the Women’s Pentagon Action, a two-thousand–woman protest that surrounded the Pentagon in 1981. Her founding and continued involvement in the Older Women’s Network is documented through examples of the organization’s newsletter, which was called Our OwnContained in the Mikels collection are also photos related to Feminary, a newsletter started by an women’s collective in Durham, NC, in 1969. In the words of Minnie Bruce Pratt, “we were a group of anti-racist, anti-imperialist Southern lesbians.” Photographs of Pratt are contained within the Mikels collection.

The collection also includes materials related to the publication of Elaine Mikels’ autobiography, Just Lucky I Guess: From Closet Lesbian to Radical Dyke (Desert Crone Press), as well as a copy of the final published version. Papers, journals, correspondence, drawings, and other pesonal materials make up the rest of the collection.

It is collections like this one that make the Mazer such a special repository. Having these images from Mikels’ life available for viewing on the UCLA Library’s Digital Collections means that lesbians, feminists, and researchers from all over the world can get a glimpse of an important time and one woman’s legacy of lesbian activism.
The finding aid for this collection is available for viewing at the Online Archive of California (http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8fx7b5w/entire_text/?query=mikels). Digitized materials from the collection and the finding aid are available for viewing on the UCLA Library’s Digital Collections website (http://digital2.library.ucla.edu/viewItem.do?ark=21198/zz002ctf79).

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 CSW at csw@csw.ucla.edu

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. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Life (Un)Ltd Speaker: Elizabeth A. Wilson

Drawing on the resources of biology, evolutionary theory, and the neurosciences to develop new models for feminism and queer theory

A self-declared “feminist scientist” or “scientist feminist,” Elizabeth A. Wilson,  will be speaking at UCLA on May 7 on “Bitter Melancholy: Feminism, Depression, and Aggression.” Her research draws on the resources of biology, evolutionary theory, and the neurosciences to develop new models for feminism and queer theory. 

Wilson is Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University. From 2011 to 2012, Wilson was a Helen Putnam Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Sydney and her B.Sc. (Honors) in Psychology from the University of Otago. She has also been an Australian Research Council Fellow at the University of New South Wales and held appointments in Women’s Studies and Psychology at the University of Western Sydney, the Australian National University, and the University of Sydney.

Her most recent book, Affect and Artificial Intelligence (2010), is the first in-depth study of affect and intersubjectivity in the computational sciences. In it, she argues that the pioneers of artificial intelligence in the 1950s and 1960s understood intelligence to involve not just the capacity to think but also to learn, feel, and grow. Making use of archival and unpublished material from the early years of AI (1945–70) to the present, Wilson shows that early researchers were more engaged with questions of emotion than many commentators have assumed. “If you’re trying to build an agent that works with humans on a regular basis, building an emotional robot makes the interaction more flexible and robust,” Wilson said in an interview with Emory Report. “These were concerns from the beginning.”

In Psychosomatic: Feminism and the Neurological Body (2004), Wilson argues that key evolutionary concepts like coadaptation and organic affinity may in fact hold immense value for contemporary feminist and queer thinking. In her review of Psychosomatic and other recent books in Feminist Studies, Myra J. Hird calls Wilson’s book “engagement with science at its best,” going on to praise the book’s central tenet that “soma and psyche do not correspond to different ‘realities’ of the body.” In a review in symplokē, Elizabeth Green Musselman also lauds Wilson’s approach: 

Western feminism has a history of ambivalence about how to handle its culture’s entrenched commitment to mind-body dualism…In her fascinating and innovative book, Elizabeth A. Wilson cuts through this Gordian knot [soma/psyche] with a scalpel edge. Wilsons turns her critical eye specifically on the conversation—or rather, lack thereof—between neuroscience and psychoanalysis. Neuroscientists, she says, have committed themselves to a nervous system without a psyche, while psychoanalysts (feminist and otherwise) have committed themselves to a non-biologized psyche. Bridging the gap left by this disciplinary specialization and uncritical acceptance of dualism, Wilson argues provides surprisingly liberatory possibilities.

Wilson’s upcoming book, Gut Feminism, continues her scholarly enterprise with a feminist analysis of biomedical theories of depression. Looking at medical data about how antidepressants traverse the body, Wilson notes that the effects of such drugs for controlling depression are not limited to the brain but also impact the network of nerves involved in the gut: “Antidepressants don’t just go straight to the brain and nowhere else.” In this project, she has been looking at both the pharmacology of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the neurobiology of the viscera.

Rachel Lee, CSW Acting Director, invited Wilson because this current work addresses some issues that CSW’s ongoing Life (Un)Ltd  research project is exploring this year: food and metabolism. “Elizabeth Wilson’s work has been at the intersection of the sciences and the humanities/social sciences,” says Lee. “While Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity had introduced a way of thinking masculinity and femininity as not grounded in biological differences, Wilson noticed that one of the effects of Butler’s emphasis on a non-biologically foundationalist approach to sex/gender/heteronormativity was a knee-jerk reaction against delving into biology or using biological evidence. Wilson pushed back against that knee-jerk reaction.  She started inquiring into the psyche and mind not just through psychoanalysis, in the Freudian tradition, but also looking at neurology—the material bases of the brain, the neural networks, and so forth. I’m very excited to hear what she has to say about feminism, depression, and aggression.”


“Elizabeth Wilson: Scientist Feminist Creates New Models of Inquiry,” Emory Report, February 7, 2011, http://www.emory.edu/EMORY_REPORT/stories/2011/02/people_profile_elizabeth_wilson_scientist_feminist.html
 “Feminist Engagements with Matter,” review by Myra J. Hird, Feminist Studies 35: 2 (Summer 2009), 329-346, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40607971
“Pyschosomatic: Feminism and the Neurological Body by Elizabeth A. Wilson,” review by Elizabeth Green Musselman, symplokē 13: 1/2 2005, 347-349, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40550644

Selected Publications by Elizabeth A. Wilson
”Another Neurological Scene,” History of the Present 1:2 (2011), 149-169.
“Underbelly,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 21:1 (2010), 194-208.
Affect and Artificial Intelligence (University of Washington Press, 2010)
Psychosomatic: Feminism and the Neurological Body (Duke University Press Books, 2004)
Neural Geographies: Feminism and the Microstructure of Cognition (Routledge, 1998)


MORE INFO: http://www.csw.ucla.edu/events/life-un-ltd-speaker-elizabeth-wilson