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

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