Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thinking Gender 2015

Thinking Gender is an interconnected scholarly space for graduate students studying gender, race, and sexuality across all disciplines and historical periods. Augmenting the scale and the scope of this annual conference organized by CSW, Thinking Gender 2015 will feature a keynote, networking workshops, a poster exhibition, and more than forty presentations, over two days from April 23 to 24.  2015. 

With the theme of “Power, Contested knowledge, and Feminist practices,” the twenty-fifth graduate student research conference will focus on feminism and sciences, exploring the participation and/or contributions of marginalized individuals or groups who had been historically excluded from knowledge production, and analyzing how the feminist approach has altered the existing understanding of scientific knowledge and practices. The topics of panels include the bodies of medicine; gender movement in contested spaces; construction and representations of bodies in the arts; faith and feminism; gender in conflict zones; technology and power; gender, cultures, and environmental crisis; consumerism in reproduction and maternal identities; gendered networks; gender disparities in sciences; language, communication, and gender; and feminist epistemology.
Expanding upon the one-day format of previous conferences, CSW invites to participate in a two-day conference at UCLA Covel Commons. In addition to the keynote on gender studies and sciences, we also include workshops and interactive activities for the participants. including an introduction of Krav Maga.This self-defense technique is based on the self-protective principle and knowledge/practices generated from real experiences in real contexts. In terms of scope, we envision a broad range of presenters and an audience interested in interdisciplinary, transnational, cross-regional studies that engage with both contemporary and historical issues. In addition to presenting research papers in panels, we plan a poster exhibition on the themes of the conference. Undergraduate students are eligible to submit poster proposals. 

Thinking Gender provides a scholarly and social milieu for graduate students from around the world to present and discuss their work, as well as to expand their networks and connect with their peers and participating scholars. We expect the presenters to pose incisive questions to, and respond to topical comments from, the faculty and scholars moderating the panels, as well as the audience. Participants may receive travel grants and the top presentations may be published in a edited volume. 
We welcome submissions of individual papers, pre-constituted panels, and posters now. The deadline is December 15, 2014. More details please visit

 – Chien-Ling Liu

Chien-Ling Liu is the conference coordinator of Thinking Gender 2015. She is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at UCLA. Her dissertation is on the microbiological studies and public health work by the Pasteur Institutes in China between 1899 and 1950, particularly concerning prophylaxis of smallpox and rabies. She is interested in power dynamics of scientific knowledge production and practices in cross-cultural contexts, relating to the issues of modernity. When not writing her dissertation, she enjoys going to movies and playing badminton. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sonia Henríquez

 Long focused on the economic, health, and human rights of indigenous women,  Sonia Henríquez is a leader of Olowagli, a women’s organization of the Guna Yala region, which is along the Caribbean coast of Panama.  Since 1996, Henríquez has also served as the president of the National Coordinator of Indigenous Women of Panama (CONAMUIP), representing the Guna people. The organization formed in 1993, when the women from three ethnic groups—Guna, Emberá, and Ngobe—came together to form an organization of indigenous women. The objectives of the organization are to strengthen the participation and leadership of indigenous women within the regional, national and international sphere, as a manager and player involved in the social, economic, cultural, and political development of society; to strengthen the historical and cultural identity, by recovering the wisdom and spirituality of indigenous women; to raise the economic level of indigenous women and their families; and to improve all aspects of the living conditions of indigenous women.

Henríquez has also served as Executive Coordinator for the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of America, a network of indigenous women’s organizations from North, Central, and South America that provides a space for indigenous women to exchange experiences and to develop continental strategies and collaborative international action. As coordinator for the Continental Commission of Commercialization and Intellectual Property, she addresses issues of native women’s art production and its commercialization and cooptation, a crucial issue given that a major part of the economy of the Guna Yala region is focused on the production and sale of molas. These colorful, appliquéd textiles have been part of the traditional dress of the women since cotton cloth was introduced after the Spanish colonization. Henríquez participated in a successful lobbying effort to protect the Guna people against the misappropriation of indigenous craftsmanship, after imitations of molas were being mass-produced and sold.  These lobbying efforts resulted in a national law, Law No. 20, the Special System for the Collective Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples for the Protection and Defense of their Cultural Identity and their Traditional Knowledge, on June 26, 2000.  Following the passage of this law, the group organized the First National Crafts Workshop in in 2005 to provide craftspeople and designers with information on intellectual property law and the regulations concerning registration of use, which protects various indigenous craft models.

As an activist for women’s and indigenous rights, Henríquez has also conducted national and regional seminars on gender and development, domestic violence, reproductive and sexual health, leadership, and strengthening community organizations.  She has also participated in international workshops and conferences including the Continental Indigenous Women's Workshop (1996), the Indigenous Women's Caucus on the Issues of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (2001), and the Central American Congress on STD/HIV and AIDS. 

Henríquez has been recognized with many awards and scholarships, including a full scholarship to attend an intensive course on Human Rights at the University of Geneva in 2006 and a World Organization of Intellectual Property Medal of Merit from the for her defense in the Protection of Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples.

In 2009, twenty years after the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF in conjunction with CONAMUIP published Ina and Her Tagua Bracelet, a storybook about a Panamanian girl and her experiences moving to the city.  At the public event to celebrate its publication, she introduced the book and the interactive CD that accompanied it. Distributed for free to schools and libraries, the book addresses discrimination, identity, friendship, and the notion that we may be different but we have the same rights. Distributed, so that children could learn about the culture and traditions of indigenous peoples.

At the publication in 2010 of Sociolinguistic Atlas of Indigenous Peoples in Latin America, a linguistic and sociocultural analysis for Latin America also published by UNICEF with CONAMUIP (along with the Ministry of Social Development and the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation), Henríquez noted the importance of the volume for the indigenous peoples and those seeking to support them,  "It is a tool to learn about the situation of indigenous peoples in Latin America and Panama."

Earlier this year, she participated in a Dialogue on the Rights of Indigenous Women in the Inter-American System in Guatemala City put on by the Organization of American States (OAS).  Along with leaders from Mexico and Costa Rica, Henríquez spoke about experiences of indigenous women in relation to the protection mechanisms offered by the inter-American human rights system.

Organized by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women and cosponsored by the UCLA Latin American Institute, the UCLA Dean of the Social Sciences, UCLA Institute for American Cultures, the UCLA Center for Oral History, and the Charles E. Young Research Library, Henríquez’s lecture will take place on November 20, 2014, from 4 to 6 pm in the YRL Conference Room on the UCLA campus.  It is part of the series "Women's Activism and International Indigenous Rights" curated by Maylei Blackwell, Associate Professor, Department of Chicano/a Studies at UCLA. Updated information can be found on CSW’s website:


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Queers w/o Borders: 014 UCLA Queer Graduate Student Conference

 “Queers w/o Borders,” this year’s QGrad Conference, was kicked off with opening remarks from Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Chair of LGBT Studies and Professor in the Departments of Chicana and Chicano Studies, English, and Gender Studies. Instead of addressing her remarks to “Ladies and Gentlemen,” she greeted “Lesbians, Gays, Queers, Allies, Transgender, and Those with Variations of Fluid Identities.” After thanking all the people who helped the conference come to fruition, she posed this question: “Can we exist without borders?” Whether we like it or not, borders have become a crucial part of our lives. Power, however, comes from navigating between and outside such borders (hence the title of the conference). I attended two of the sessions: “Cultural Representations of Queer Lives” and “Cross-cultural and International Exchanges.”

Cultural Representations of Queer Lives
This panel featured “The Amercanized Queer of Historical Television,” Britta Hans, USC; “Does Emotion Matter? An Examination of Affect in Queer Social Protest,” Eric Baldwinn, UCI, and “From Intimate Expressions to International Publication: the Poetry of Marcel Proust,” Louise Brown, UCLA. Sue-Ellen Case, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Ph.D. Program in Theater and Performance Studies at UCLA, was the moderator. Hans argued that even in historical television shows that are located in Europe (for instance The Borgias and Spartacus), queer characters conform to contemporary American queer stereotypes. The shows only depict queers to the extent that the audience will be comfortable watching and hence resort to ahistorical and stereotypical methods of depiction. Baldwinn’s presentation explored records on social movements and suggested that even though popular assumption is that emotions play a big role in mobilization of social movement, emotions actually play no role in the actual mobilization. It is likely, he argued, that only after successfully carrying out the movement’s goals to mobilize citizens that emotions come into play in the formation of a narrative of mobilization. Lastly, Brown explored the poetry of Marcel Proust, which was written when he was an adolescent boy. Suggesting that the use of obscurity was a tactic that Proust deployed, Brown suggested that such a method could also be incorporated into social interactions to garner more diverse methods of exchange among queer folks.

Cross-cultural and International Exchanges
Paola Concia
Moderated by Laure Murat, Professor in the Department of French and Francophone Studies at UCLA, this panel featured “Locating the Filipina Lesbian: Navigating Spaces of Inclusion and Exclusion in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Centers in the Philippines,” Mylene DeGuzman, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Philippines; “Mapping LGBT Discourse in Italy,” Cate Fugazzola, University of Chicago; and “To Celebrate Diversity between the West and Asian: the Desire of Tokyo Rainbow Pride,” Kyohei Itakura, UC Davis. DeGuzman explored BPO call centers in Philippines and how lesbians working in them coped with their sexuality in a seemingly but not actually inclusive work environment. For instance, she discussed common microaggressions. Being asked, for example, “Who’s the guy in the relationship?” or “Were you ever raped?” Fugazzola discussed her research—using regional newspapers and how they portrayed events or people related to LGBTon the LGBT movement in Italy. Some of her findings show that these newspapers did not acknowledge the LGBT community as a community but instead as individuals with no sense of community. Moreover, male politicians who come out as gays are labeled with feminine adjectives, whereas Paola Concia, a female politician who came out as a lesbian received more honorary and respectful adjectivesperhaps because she was perceived as less like a woman and more like a man. Lastly, Itakura explored the Tokyo Rainbow Pride (TRP) website in its Japanese and English translated version and the differing agendas and messages of the two websites. By examining the homonationalist rhetoric of the Japanese website, he demonstrated that TRP seeks to be the bridge between Western queer culture and the rest of Asia, thereby idealizing competition.
Although I only attended two sessions, my expression at QGrad made me realize the true intersectionality of queer studies. Circling back to the questioncan we exist without borders?—from Gaspar de Alba’s opening remarks, I believe the diversity of the conference itself provided the answer. Looking at the identity of queer in the past, present, and future not only in the U.S but in various countries, I felt that borders do exist whether it is national borders, borders of personal interest, or borders of language. However, as presenters of different research interests came together on this day under the very large idea of queerness, perhaps borders can be transformed into spaces that create powerful interaction (like this conference) and agency rather than boundaries that section people off and enforce hierarchies of power.

-- Min Joo Lee is a doctoral student in the Department of Gender Studies at UCLA.

Complete conference schedule of “Queer w/o Borders: 2014 UCLA Queer Graduate Student Conference” is available at the website: