April 20, 2007

Final paper

Hi ,
I hope you'll see this on time. Prof. Puotinen extended deadline for the long final paper. It is now due on May 3rd (instead of Thursday, April 26th).
good news!!

April 11, 2007


i don't know if it is good or not, but sounds interesting.

"A Matter of Honour: Notes on Feminism and Multiculturalism in Britain Today": A talk with Priyamvada Gopal

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
3:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Room 710
Social Sciences Building

April 6, 2007

Who's graduating??

Hey everyone! Are any of you graduating from CLA and walking on the thirteenth at 3 pm? If so... do you happen to have an extra guest ticket (each graduate has a max of five and I would really like to find one more)??? If you do, or know someone who does I would really appreciate help finding one!!! Thank you!!

April 4, 2007

a really cool event- and free food (arnoldas this could help on your free food quest too)

FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH will precede and follow the presentations. A full Â
schedule follows below. I hope to see many of you at some part of the events
on Friday!


Please join the Space and Place Collaborative for a day-long symposium
entitled 'Heritage Sites/Political Spaces: Rethinking Belonging', which
will take place next Friday, April 6, in Nolte Library. Our presenters

Huhana Smith, Senior Curator Mäori, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa
Tongarewa, Aotearoa New Zealand, and visual artist

Talya Chalef, South African and Australian visual and site-specific artist

Ciraj Rassool, District Six Museum Trustee, Professor of History at
University of Western Cape Town, South Africa

Brenda Child, Associate Professor of American Studies, UMN

If you are interested in attending please RSVP to Cecilia
Aldarondo ASAP at aldar002@umn.edu.

Sponsored by the Institute for Global Studies, Department of English,
Department of Geography, Department of Anthropology, Department of American
Studies, Department of Theatre Arts and Dance

Symposium Schedule and Abstracts:

9:30-10:00 Continental Breakfast

10-12: Session One: Presentations by Huhana Smith and Talya Chalef;
discussant Margaret Werry; chaired by Sonja Kuftinec

12-1: Catered lunch

1-3: Session Two: Presentations by Ciraj Rassool, Brenda Child, Carly
Beane, Kate Beane, and Scott Shoemaker; discussant and chair Megan Lewis

3:00-3:30: Refreshment break

3:30-5:00: Discussion roundtable (with presenters and discussants) chaired
by Karen Till

5:00-6:00: Closing reception

SESSION ONE: 10am -12 noon

Huhana Smith, Senior Curator Mäori, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa
Tongarewa, Aotearoa New Zealand, and visual artist, will talk about a
Mäori-led natural heritage initiative that uses local knowledge based on
intimate, physical, inter-generational and spiritual interfaces with lands,
water and resources to undertake ecosystem restoration.

This talk investigates the multidimensionality of an iwi and hapü-led
initiative in active kaitiakitanga or guardianship of natural resources.
The project is based on local Mäori knowledge that comes from talking about
place, observing place and developing place in a detailed way, in order to
highlight how interactions with resources and the natural environment were
prerequisites for maintaining place and its customary knowledge rights.
Aspects of revitalised local knowledge underpinned restoration planning and
projects on tribal lands, especially for wetlands and lower reaches of
river systems to sea.

Huhana Smith (Ngäti Tukorehe, Ngäti Raukawa) is Senior Curator Mäori, at
the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Aotearoa New Zealand. She is
also a visual artist, who has exhibited widely both within and outside New
Zealand, and a commentator on both contemporary and customary Mäori art and
visual culture. She is the general editor of Taiäwhio: Conversations with
Contemporary Mäori Artists 2002 (with next version due June 2007). She was
part of the editorial team for Icons Nga Taonga 2002 a cross- disciplinary
publication on Te Papa’s collection.. She recently led the curatorial team
for the cultural exchange exhibition Mauri Ora: Treasures from the Museum
of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa 2007, between Tokyo National Museum in
Japan and Te Papa, Aotearoa New Zealand. She is currently in the final
stages of doctoral study, pursuing an action research project which brings
together her interests in landscape art, ecological heritage, and Mäori
customary knowledge. She will exhibit associated paintings around her PhD
studies, ‘The Weedeaters’ in November 2007.

* * * Talya Chalef, South African and Australian visual and site-specific
artist, will discuss site, a multi sensory, one-woman performance piece
that raises ethical questions about what happens when unwanted pasts
resurface to haunt the postcolonial city. site was inspired by Prestwich
Place, a mass burial ground that was discovered on a construction site in
Cape Town 2003. Archeologists found that these bodies made up a sum total
of approximately three thousand dating back the beginnings of Dutch
colonisation. Because this site was located outside the old city’s colonial
walls, it indicated that they were not of Dutch Reformed origin, setting up
an interesting and heated debate. Using the story from Cape Town set
against the backdrop of Australia I wanted to point to issues of our shared
post colonial condition. With Tanya Heywood, I devised site, a performance
piece that sought to explore all the various perspectives on the situation
whilst not dictating or favoring any one specific point of view. The space,
sounds, projections, movements and texts all contributed equally to site.
We created and performed the work in Melbourne’s old City Watch House and
brought the audience into the space, through an installation and into the
ideas. We asked Melbourne audiences how they would deal with such an event:
what perspective would identify with and as such, how would they relate to
this history to their everyday lives? In this presentation, I will speak
about the motivations for site; the essays, which contributed to the
creative development; the artistic process with actor Tanya Heywood; the
visual, spatial, site-specific, aural and movement choices within the work;
how each element contributed to the overall concept; and lastly, how the
investigated themes spoke to larger issues of home, belonging and place.

* * *

Ciraj Rassool, District Six Museum Trustee, Professor of History at
University of Western Cape Town, and Co-Director of the Heritage and Museum
Studies Program (UWC with University of Cape Town and Robben Island), in
Cape Town, South Africa, will discuss “intangible heritage� interventions
by the District Six Museum in the post-apartheid city.

* * * Brenda Child (Ojibwe), Associate Professor of American Studies, UMN,
Carly Beane, Kate Beane (Dakota) and Scott Shoemaker (Miami) (Ph.D.
candidate, UMN American Studies), will present “Reclaiming Bdote:
Considering the Fort Snelling Historic Site.�

Fort Snelling sits in close proximity to the Twin-Cities International
Airport and is at the center of the metro area of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Today, there is a full living history program at the historic restored
stone fortress, with guides in costume during the summer months and
thousands of visitors every year. Dakota prisoners were at Fort Snelling
during the 1862 War in Minnesota, though that history is not presently part
of the interpretation at the historic site. In the aftermath, 38 Dakota men
were hanged in Minnesota, in the largest mass execution in the history of
the United States. As a further indignity, the Minnesota Historical Society
displayed the physical remains of Little Crow, the Dakota leader
assassinated a year after the conflict ended. This presentation will
explain a research project involving American Indian Studies faculty and
students at the University of Minnesota that addressed some of the complex
issues surrounding the Fort Snelling historic site for American Indians in
this region, at a time when the state of Minnesota and the Minnesota
Historical Society contemplates its renovation for the upcoming
sesquicentennial of statehood.

March 23, 2007

Neoconservatism, Neoliberalism, and De-Democratization

Hi, there are two interesting events. One is a smaller discussion/seminar (but looks more interesting) and the other is bigger event at Watson library. Since we spent some time discussing neoliberalism i thought this would be good talk to hear. Both of these are on Monday.
A Discussion of "American Nightmare: Neoconservatism, Neoliberalism, and De-Democratization" with Wendy Brown.
March 26, 11:00am, 1314 Social Sciences Building

Abstract: Neoliberalism and neoconservatism are two distinct political rationalities in the contemporary United States. They have few overlapping formal characteristics, and even appear contradictory in many respects. Yet they converge not only in the current presidential administration but also in their de- democratizing effects. Their respective devaluation of political liberty, equality, substantive citizenship, and the rule of law in favor of governance according to market criteria on the one side, and valorization of state power for putatively moral ends on the other, undermines both the culture and institutions of constitutional democracy. Above all, the two rationalities work symbiotically to produce a subject relatively indifferent to veracity and accountability in government and to political freedom and equality among the citizenry.

Wendy Brown will be presenting a seminar on her recent piece in Political Theory (Vol. 34, No. 6 (2006)). The seminar will be an opportunity to discuss the themes developed in her paper. The paper is available online through the UMN library website. She also recommended the "prequel" to the Political Theory piece, "Neoliberalism and the End of Democracy," which can be found in Theory and Event (Vol. 7, No. 1 (2003)) or in Edgework, a collection of essays she published in 2005.

"Porous Sovereignty/Walled Democracy"

Monday, March 26th at 3:30. 101 Walter Library. Reception to follow.

Wendy Brown is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Wendy Brown is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in Political Philosophy from Princeton University (1983). Her recent publications include Left Legalism/Left Critique, co-edited with Janet Halley (Duke, 2002), Edgework: Critical Essays in Knowledge and Politics (Princeton, 2005), and Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire (forthcoming, Princeton, 2006). Her fields of interest include history of political theory, nineteenth and twentieth century Continental theory, critical theory and cultural theory (including postcolonial, feminist, and critical race theory). Her current research focuses on the relationship of theories of political sovereignty to global capital and other transnational forces.

March 9, 2007


I think this event is closest to what we trying to study and understand in our class. i will be going and i hope other people can make it too.

We invite you to
on Sunday, April 15, 2007

with members of
Labor Education Service (University of Minnesota),
Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network, and
Sangtin Kisaan Mazdoor Sangathan (Sitapur, India)

Please join us in this unique opportunity for a discussion with members of Sangtin Kisaan Mazdoor Sangathan (Sangtin Peasants and Workers Organization). SKMS is working to build a strong movement of women and men in the villages of Sitapur District in North India. From SKMS come Surbala and Richa Singh, full time organizers in Sitapur, and Richa Nagar, a professor at the University of Minnesota. SKMS emerged from discussions of social and economic violence in the daily lives of rural women, and in the donor-funded organizations that seek to empower the poor. SKMS interweaves grassroots organizing, collective reflections, and collaborative writing to build dialogues and solidarity networks with rural communities in Sitapur, and with educators and people's movements located outside of Sitapur. For SKMS, projects of empowerment, instead of being imagined and diffused by funders and experts, must gain their meaning and form through dialogues with communities they seek to empower.

We will begin with some key questions in SKMS' journey: How does donor-driven-politics influence grassroots activism? How does unequal access to education, livelihood, and information shape the lives of workers and peasants? How can university-based research and grassroots struggles support each other? Subsequently, local organizers, students, and those directly affected by unequal access will engage with these themes and raise others. We hope to start a much needed dialogue about how our struggles overlap, what we can learn and take from each other about visions and strategies, and how we can build alliances despite significant differences in our contexts. We hope that this three-hour session will provide adequate time for meaningful conversations to happen.
2:30-5:30 PM
In the Heart of the Beast Theatre (3rd Floor of Plaza Verde)
1500 East Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407

Translation and childcare will be provided

A note to paid staff at community groups and unions: This discussion seeks to expand the circle of participants that get a chance to engage with such questions. Often we find that the same people participate in events such as this, and therefore, we ask that you bring members from your organization with you if you plan to come.

Please RSVP by April 1 to hamarasafar@gmail.com indicating the language in which you would like us to provide translation and, if you need childcare, please let us know how many children will accompany you.

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota's CLA Scholarly Events Fund, Institute for Global Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change, Department of Chicano Studies, Department of American Studies, and M?S(S) Color, the association of students of color of the Department of American Studies.

New Directions in Latin American Feminism

What: Workshop: New Directions in Latin American Feminism

When: Saturday April 21, 2007

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Minnesota cordially invites you to join faculty and graduate students for a one-day workshop to discuss the new challenges and new directions that the pluralities of feminisms are taking today in the Americas and how are these challenges are shaping new theoretical approaches.

Participants will engage in dialogue with four distinguished guest panelists and with each other as we address recent perspectives on feminist cultural theory in/about Latin America and discuss the new directions that Latin American(ist) feminisms are taking or need to take in the re-articulation of feminist practices.

Sara Castro-Klarén, Johns Hopkins University
Jean Franco, Columbia University
Amy Kaminsky, University of Minnesota
Cynthia Tompkins, Arizona State University

Questions that will frame our discussion include
the appropriation of new theoretical frameworks by feminist criticism and theory- in particular postcolonial and transnational approaches and the new directions that these perspectives are generating in the already existing pluralities of feminist positions in Latin American feminisms.

* the new challenges for the feminist literary and cultural studies.
* the impact of new models and theoretical frameworks on the possibility of imagining new identities and communities and in their representation.
* the new debates in cultural studies and their effect in Latin American(ist) feminisms, in particular in relation to literary studies and cultural critique
* the role of interdisciplinary approaches to the consolidation of new dialogues, new languages, and new practices
* the impact of globalization in current feminist studies in/about Latin America

Location TBA. Watch for further information to be posted on www.spanport.umn.edu.
Free and open to the public, but we ask that participants RSVP to spanport@umn.edu to assist us in our planning.

March 7, 2007

Moya & Panjabi

I agree with Arnoldas that the notion of “realism? in Moya remains somewhat abstract. However, I like her emphasis on knowledge through lived experiences. I found it useful how she picked up on Moraga’s insistence on the “relationship between social location, knowledge, and identity as theoretically mediated through the interpretation of experience? (145). As the example of Moraga’s “journey? (i.e. the changing interpretations of her experiences over time) shows, this theory honors the individual’s unique position without completely discounting common factors, such as social location.
I also found Panjabi’s examination of strategies of resistance by female prisoners very interesting. I like that she analyzes small acts of resistance in places where one would least expect them. Even though these women were unable to escape their imprisonment, they were able to challenge the guards (and thereby the system) for one short moment at a time and one small act at a time. She concludes that this resistance was (at least in part) successful due to a “knowledge gap?: “theoretical knowledge of women’s lives has been historically denied a place in the realm of objective analysis; their social desires, values, and interests have been consistently suppressed in history? (168). Panjabi is pointing out an important trend that holds true for the situation of most minorities and oppressed people: if members of a minority want to live in / make it in the dominant society, they cannot afford such a knowledge gap, whereas most members of the dominant society are probably ignorant of the social values, needs, desires, etc. of the minority. Panjabi shows how this disadvantage can be turned into an advantage by the oppressed people and I thought that was very intriguing.

Spivak tonight

on very short notice if anyone is interested. She is well known post-colonial theorist (as well as well know for her hard-to grasp writing). Might be relevant to our course.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Room: Coffman Theater

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak will deliver the 44th Joseph Warren Beach Lecture in Literature. Spivak was born in Calcutta, India. Her widely influential work involves post-structuralist literary criticism, Marxism, feminism and postcolonialism, and translations of the Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi. Among her books are Death of a Discipline (2003), A Critique of Post-Colonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (1999), Outside in the Teaching Machine (1993), and In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics (1987). She is currently an Avalon Foundation professor and Director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University.

March 4, 2007

on readings

First of all I would like to disagree with Sarah's statement that Chicana women are most oppressed by postmodernists. What i think author tries to say is that postmodernists are not attentive to details and particular histories theorizing experiences which are not part of their own lives. We can talk about discursive power imbalances, but i think oppression has little to do with the barely read obscure language academic texts, rather with persistent racism and the US political economic system (among other things).
I also feel that while Moya is making certain points and addressing important issues, wholesale dismissal and mystification of "postmodernism" as one clear-cut theory is somewhat unfair. If I read it attentively, postmodernism in this case represented by only two authors - Butler and Haraway. I found the critique of "postmodernism" insufficient.
The theme of appropriating "oppression" I think is important one to discuss, but I don't think that postmodernists are the only ones "guilty." Rather, the whole academic establishment is thriving on such exercises. Is there way out of it? Well, there are various more or less ethical methodologies, admitting and dealing with your own positionally, and so on, but i think it is largely unavoidable, since one is always talking about someone else, not themselves, therefore there is a room of misinterpretation, misrepresentation, and getting credit using other peoples lives (often the more miserable the bigger the credit - sorry if i sound too cynical here, but i often find academic texts focusing on "bad news" just like mainstream media.)
While Satya Mohanty's theory of "Realism" seems convincing, in the end it remains abstract (just like Moya's dismissal that if everyone can be cyborg, than it is useless) - "Identities are neither self-evident, unchanging, and uncontestable, nor are they absolutely fragmented, contradictory, and unstable"(139) (would Butler and Haraway disagree?). And "experience is epistemically indispensable but never epistemically sufficient" (148). While I agree with this, I wonder where do we go from here? It is important to situate the particular experience, and understand that some people gain particular knowledge because of their position which is unavailable to others, but if we (who?) agree that no knowledge can be trusted completely and speak total "truth" how do we acknowledge that and work towards best possible compromise or solution employing such knowledges?

I found it useful Moya's explanation of Moraga's that "it was through her struggles - to deny chicanidad and then to reclaim it; to repress her lesbianism and then to express it; to escape sexism and heterosexism within Chicano/a cultural context and then to combat racism and sexism within Anglo-American feminist movement - that she comes to understanding and necessity for a nonessentialist feminist theory that can explain the political and theoretical salience of social location" (144). It illustrates that simply being part of certain community or claiming particular identity doesn't provide one with critical voice and knowledge. While Moraga largely demonstrates resistance and critical engagement within various communities she was part of exposing that identity based groups, oppressed by the dominant system, can be oppressive inside their group.
Similarly, although very briefly Panjabi discusses solidarity of imprisoned movement, but acknowledging class conflicts between individual women, showing that gender identity under oppression of the dehumanizing institution is a factor not large enough to bridge other differences. This theme is also persistent in Wekker's essay, showing the importance of class in Suriname society.

March 2, 2007

oppression and agency

I chose to look at the specific oppressive institutions in each case and the ways in which they affected the agency or subjectivity of each of the populations examined. The Chicana group, Moraga and Anzaldua specifically, but also the larger group of individuals who identify as Chicana, are oppressed mainly postmodern scholars who attempt to render their identities problematic by stating that they are “essentialist? and “foundational?. To resist the misquoting and misinterpreting that goes on regularly by postmodern scholars of Chicana work, they have created a realist theory of identity. They see identity as “relational and grounded in historically produced social facts? and specifically focus on the way that social, political, economic, and epistemic components of social location affect the lives of individuals. Additionally, Moraga discusses a “theory in the flesh? which basically just notes that women of color will develop a necessary method of action which changes regularly with an individual’s understanding of her/his own social location.
The imprisoned women of India and Argentina are oppressed clearly by the state. In the reading provided it was clear that the state curtailed their disciplinary and torturing behaviors specifically to the women who were imprisoned and that it attempted to “make an example? of the consequences of immorality through these very behaviors. They did so by murdering the baby and/or the mother, torturing the baby physically, taking babies from mothers and many other tactics. The resistance that came out of these situations is complex and could easily be lost as it is mostly comprised of minute daily-life details.
Some of this resistance consisted of singing nursery rhymes and songs during torture or, in Hannaman, everyone called each other by familial names thus creating a family or community within these prison settings. These acts of resistance were extremely significant as they were direct responses to the attempt of the state to take family and motherhood from these individuals. When it was taken from them they simply made their best attempt at recreating it. An additional aspect of resistance seen in these writings is the fact that they exist. Towards the beginning of the article it was stated that in these two societies women were expected to remain in the private sphere and be quiet and passive. Through writing about the experiences, and especially because they did so in a very powerful way not depicting themselves as victims, these women resisted the most basic aspect of the state’s oppression.
The Creole Surinamese women are oppressed by some overlapping factors. Firstly, they were oppressed as they found their employment in “hidden? or frequently overlooked fields. Especially for this reason, they frequently worked jobs that offered little compensation. This particular group is also oppressed by Caribbean gender relations in that society in general is very male dominated. Men take the better jobs, are allowed to be involved in politics, are listened to when it comes to important issues. Additionally, these women are oppressed by the class-based aspect of their society.
To resist, the Creole Surinamese women reorganized the ways in which they lived their lives. They refused to base their personal and daily lives on men; rather, they bonded together as women to provide for each other economically, socially, sexually, and in other ways as well. This situation disturbs the male dominance within society as a whole within their community. They also worked hard to create organizations in which they could push for the accomplishment of goals that were important to them. When no one else from the community seemed to care that teachers were taking money from children or that children were insufficiently fed, they took action and worked with the education system and provided food for school children.

March 1, 2007

Class Cancelled Today

Due to the bad weather today, class is cancelled. Since we can't meet, I thought we could discuss the texts a little on this blog. Please post at least one entry in response to my questions and/or the readings.

Continue reading "Class Cancelled Today" »

February 28, 2007

Rabbit-Proof Fence

I also enjoyed watching the film last week in class because the Aboriginal Act in Australia is something for which I hadn’t heard of before. I am very curious to what the book actually says but seeing the movie did a good job of exposing the audience to the pain surrounding the actions of the government. Since the film was previewed in Jingalong, it could have been the first time those residents saw the actually pain it caused by developing an empathetic relationship with Molly, the main character. The film was made for the mainstream and we can tell that because of the issues of language and the brushing over of Molly’s other trips down the Rabbit-Proof Fence.I believe the fact that I hadn’t heard about this before also shows the strength for which colonialism still plays and the white privilege which surrounds the ideas of history. Historical events are written by those in power and this event was written through biography of the colonized. It still is hard to think that this atrocity continued after WWII and the concentration camps and that the movie didn’t show the villainy of the government to the extent in which it should have to shown the damage it has caused to the Aboriginal family and culture.

February 27, 2007

Rabbit-Proof Fence

I agree with what Sarah said about creating empathy for the girls in the film among the audience. This was also one of the points I think our reading last week brought up. The empathy we feel for the girls is based on a false sense of universality- we think we know how they feel, that the human experience of pain is universal, and this is problematic because it ignores the different cultural experiences of global people and makes us think we could substitute any other child in their situation. The reason this comes into play, however, is because we assume the intended audience is white or Western- and if I remember correctly from the reading, the film was premiered in Jingalong. Now, obviously, the majority of audiences have probably been in academic settings like ours, or at least have not been aboriginal Australians, but if the intent really was to create this movie for the people of Jinalong, then the empathy created with the girls would be based on a true commonality of experience, not a falsely universalizing one.

rabbit proof fence

Whille there are definitely a lot of issues that were brought up throughout the film, one that I found particularly interesting was the issue of the audience and empathy. While I'm not sure that we specifically discussed this on Thursday I think it is something that is very important to think about.
When Molly and the other two girls were being taken away in the car and they were crying and the mothers and grandmother were crying I felt a lot of empathy for the characters in the film. While I continued to watch the film I thought about whether this was problematic. Obviously, if there is something sad in a film with which you can somewhat relate you will feel empathy. However, is it problematic for the filmmaker to encourage this kind of empathy from a group of people who probably have no real connections the destructive power dynamics that were at play to create the situation that occurred in Australia during this time.
The more I thought about it, the more I decided that it absolutely is problematic. In some ways this film was very helpful, but it also limited its educational-ability by making itself overly accesible to the mainstream audience. I say this because in watching the film almost anyway is going to feel empathy for the characters in one or more of the situations. We have to think though about what empathy as a feeling really does for us. Does it cause us to push further the ideas and the situation? or does it sort of pacify us into a feeling of "that was wrong and I am sad"?
I can relate to the film because I have had a somewhat problematic family history, but if I were Molly I wouldn't want someone in my position to say "I know how she feels/felt, that is terrible" and I think that the film encourages that reaction. Rather, I think it's important to acknowledge that the situation was sad but then move on to look at the ways that massive structural dynamics allowed for the oppression of a particular group of people based on their skin color, language, and a few other factors... I guess what I'm arguing is that empathy is sort of a pacifying component which can be drawn out in a mainstream audience through images (similar to what Anja was discussing) that draw on the collective conscious and general understandings of human needs.