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The Colloquium will meet monthly on a weekday evening, or a Friday breakfast or lunch, to be determined.  It will be administered by an organizing committee, coordinated by the IRWGS Graduate Fellows. The committee will determine meeting topics in consultation with participants and the Director of Graduate Studies.  Meetings could focus on readings of graduate student work-in-progress and recent published scholarship in the field, discussion of current research by faculty members, or workshops on professional issues such as preparing work for conferences and for publication, drafting dissertation prospectuses, and applying for academic jobs.

The coordinators will have significant input into deciding the content of the meetings, in consultation with colloquium participants and the Director of Graduate Studies.

The colloquium coordinators will be expected to book a meeting place for all events (usually the IRWGS seminar room), maintain a regularly updated email list, notify participants of upcoming events, copy and distribute precirculated readings to participants (in electronic and paper form), purchase light refreshments for each meeting, and write short previews or summaries of each meeting as well as a brief article summing up the year's events for the IRWGS blog.


Past Colloquium Events:

May 5, 2016
Graduate Colloquium: Willemijn Krebbekx on What (else) can Sex Education do?
April 18, 2016
Theory Salon with Branka Arsic on "Affirmative Reading” from new book Bird Relics
April 12, 2016
Grad Colloquium: Cara Rock-Singer on”’I see you, and you are enough': Grassroots Jewish Feminism in the Mikveh," a chapter from her dissertation Jewish Women's Bodies and the Body Politic: American Jewish Women's Scientific And Religious Authority


March 3, 2016

Graduate Colloquium: Nicole Gervasio on Spectral Narrative as Historical Revision in Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones and Boubacar Boris Diop’s Murambi: The Book of Bones

February 15, 2016
Graduate Colloquium: Andrea Crow on The Starving Bedlamite and the Jacobean Stage
April 16, 2015

Graduate Colloquium: Alyssa Greene on Refusing Innocence: Narrating Strange Children in Hera Müller's "Nadirs"

April 3, 2015
"Theory Friday" with Mana Kia, “Engaging Queer Theory from Iran.” from Afsaneh Najmabadi’s Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran
March 5, 2015

Graduate Colloquium: Lucie Vagnerova on Gendering Gesture in Electronic Music: Sonic, Scenic, Cyborg

February 3, 2015
Graduate Colloquium: Tatjana Bijelić on "Sisters and solid foundations: reinventing alternative spaces in Courtney Angela Brkic's The First Rule of Swimming." 

November 20, 2014

Graduate Colloquium: Vanina Mozziconacci on "Relations and Levels in Feminist Theories of Education"

April 1, 2014

Theory Monday with Patricia Williams, on the works of Avery Gordon.

February 17, 2014

Shamus Khan, Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, as Professor Khan engages with Bordieu's "Masculine Domination."

January 27, 2014

Theory Monday with Neferti Tadiar (Professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College) on Marx's Grundrisse.

November 6, 2013

Theory Monday with Griselda Pollock and Anne Higonnet, "After-affects / After-Images: Trauma and Aesthetic Transformation" 

October 28, 2013

Theory Monday, with Evelyn Fox Keller, Professor Emerita of History and Philosophy of Science at MIT.  She will discuss her book Reflections on Gender and Science, with respondent Christia Mercer, Professor of Philosphy in the Department of Philosophy at Columbia.  

April 13, 2012

Research Friday: Serena Owusua Dankwa on: "Doing Everything Together: Female Same-Sex Intimacies in Postcolonial Ghana."

Serena Owusua Dankwa is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute and a doctoral candidate in Social Anthropology at the University of Berne in Switzerland. Engaging with African feminist, postcolonial, and queer epistemologies, Dankwa investigates the shifting meanings and the gendered dynamics of female same-sex intimacy in postcolonial Ghana. Her ethnographic research has been supported by the Center for Gender and Advocacy at the University of Ghana, and funded through the Swiss National Science Foundation. Dankwa holds an MA in teaching and performing classical guitar from the Conservatory of Lucerne and an MA in African Studies from SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Her publications include: (2005) “Shameless Maidens”: Women’s Agency and the Mission in Akuapem, Agenda Sexuality and Body Image, 63, pp. 105–116; (2009) “It’s a Silent Trade”: Female Same-Sex Intimacies in Postcolonial Ghana, Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 17(3); (2012) “The one who first says I love you”: Female Same-Sex Relations and Relational Masculinity in Postcolonial Ghana, Ghana Studies 14. Besides her studies, she works as a radio presenter in arts and culture journalism, focusing on (European) representations of Africa.


February 27, 2012

Theory Monday: Alondra Nelson on the work of Bruno Latour.

The Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality is pleased to invite graduate students and faculty from the Columbia and Barnard communities to participate in a series of conversations about important books for the study of gender and sexuality. This session is led by Associate Professor Alondra Nelson on the French sociologist Bruno Latour, specifically focusing on his work in Reassembling The Social. Readings will be circulated in advance; please rsvp to dgc2105@columbia.edu to get the reading. 


October 7, 2011

Research Friday: Maya Mikdashi on "Sex and Sectarianism: Disarticulating Madhhab/Sect and Sex/Gender."

Nash Professor of Law Kendall Thomas responds.

During this, the first Research Friday of the semester, we will workshop a dissertation chapter by PhD candidate Maya Mikdashi (Anthropology). An abstract of the chapter is below. Please RSVP to srt2114@columbia.edu to receive a copy of the paper and please indicate whether you would like a vegetarian lunch.

Abstract: In this chapter I compare the legal practices of strategic conversion and shatb al madhhab. I illustrate the ways that Lebanese citizenship is built around the legal edifice of sex and madhhab. To illustrate the primacy of the legal category of sex in the Lebanese legal system, I offer the example of transsexual citizens who have “corrected their sex” in the census registry. I question what effect the legal and bureaucratic transformation of madhhab and/or sex has on the identification and/or recognition of a citizen’s sect or gender. As we shall see, while sex and madhhab are the main identifications through citizens are recognized and reproduced in Lebanese law, sect and gender are more multivalent and dense categories. The density of sect and gender and their uneven mapping into the legal categories of madhhab and sex are revealed through the practices of strategic conversion, shatb al madhhab, and “correcting” one’s sex. What are the mechanisms through which these identities of madhhab, sect, sex and gender are recognized and practiced? In what ways are Lebanese citizens acting within and towards the law, and what motivates them? Thinking with these questions, I tease out the different technologies through which sex, gender, madhhab and sect are both recognized and practiced in contemporary Lebanon. I call for the categories of “madhhab” and “sect” to be critically re-interrogated, just as the categories of sex and gender were and continue to be in academic literature.


April 29, 2011

Research Friday: Annette Seidel Arpaci on: "Don't Believe the Hype?: Hip-Hop, Islam, and Gender in the North Atlantic."

Professor Najam Haider (Barnard) responds.

This talk examines intersections of rap music/hip-hop culture, gender, and ‘Islam’ in the Northern Atlantic. Gendered identifications and political and cultural expressions of ambivalent and multiple marginalized positionalities as ‘Muslim’ are explored via the example of a number of artists from Europe and the US. It is argued that – with ‘Islamic rap’ generally on the rise – there is currently a trend within hip-hop culture that allows for both a ‘coming-out’ with faith through more traditional articulations than during the earlier years of hip-hop, and for an increasing number of female rappers to assert themselves ‘on stage.’ In order to discuss this apparent paradox, particular attention will be paid to notions of ‘sincerity’ and ‘voice,’ and to the acoustic and visual markers artists employ in ‘Muslim hip-hop.’


December 3, 2010

Research Friday: Sara Murphy, PhD Candidate in English and Comparative Literature, on: "Romancing the Stranger: Surrogate NatalFamilies in Anne Halkett's Autobiography." 

Martha Howell, Miriam Champion Professor of History, responds.


November 5, 2010

Research Friday: Joanna Dee and Victoria Phillips Geduld, PhD Candidates in History, on "The Scientist-Seductress on Tour: Katherine Dunham vs. The State Department" and "The Politics of Performance: Women, Pill Box Hats, and Pearls at Congress Hall in West Berlin, 1957." 

Brent Edwards, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, responds.


April 16, 2010

Research Friday: Lisa Uperesa shares a selection from her dissertation.

Neferti Tadiar, Professor of Women's Studies, Barnard College, responds.


April 9, 2010

Research Friday: Adela Ramos presents a paper on Species Fellowship: "Women and Animals in Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman."

Madeleine Dobie, Associate Professor of French, responds.

In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Mary Wollstonecraft draws from the language of eighteenth-century natural history to argue for the equality of women. Wollstonecraft resorts to a new understanding of “species” as a principle of classification which sharply distinguishes humans from animals.  Using “species,” she vehemently rejects the kind of education that has taught women to behave, in her own words, like spaniels and parrots.  This paper examines how Wollstonecraft borrows the term “species” from natural history in order to disassociate women from animals. It argues that Wollstonecraft’s famous call for “a revolution in female manners” should also be understood as the re-classification of woman as human.  Yet in arguing women into the human species, Wollstonecraft must also define the limit to woman’s concern for animals.  As it concludes, this paper considers the intersection of women’s rights and animal rights at the end of the eighteenth century in Britain.


February 26, 2010

Research Friday: Rachel Van presents a selection from her dissertation, "The 'Woman Pigeon':  Mobility, Domesticity, & Discourses of Civilization in the Trading Ports of Canton & Macau."

Eugenia Lean, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, responds.

Prior to the 1842 Treaty of Nanking, Chinese law prohibited the presence of foreign women in Canton (Guangzhou).  Ladies who made the journey to China from the Atlantic lived in a small enclave 80 miles to the south in the Portuguese colony of Macau.  From 1800 when the East India Company allowed women to travel in the berths of Company ships to 1842, a mixed-sex community developed in Macau that was particularly tied to the English and American-dominated trade of Canton.  While considerable research has been done on the "China trade" during this period, far less is known about the relationship between Canton and Macau.  This paper shows that examining the two sites together is critical to understanding how sexuality and family life shaped trade and foreign relations prior to the Treaty of Nanking.


February 25, 2010

Carol Sanger, Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law, workshops a chapter on stillbirth for a multidisciplinary conference and book on "Birth: Rights and Rites."


November 20, 2009

Research Friday: Elizabeth Bernstein of the Sociology Department will give a paper on "Militarized Humanitarianism Meets Carceral Feminism: the Politics of Sex, Rights, and Freedom in Contemporary Anti-Trafficking Campaigns."

Roxana Galusca, a visiting scholar from the University of Michigan, responds.


October 26, 2009

Theory Monday: Catherine Driscoll, Associate Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney and IRWaG Visiting Scholar, on Meaghan Morris, particularly "The Banality in Cultural Studies."


October 9, 2009

Research Friday: Julie Golia presents a selection from her dissertation, "'Queen of Heartaches': The Newspaper Advice Columnist as Icon and Journalist"

Rachel Adams, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, responds. 

How did America’s first generation of advice columnists delineate their professional standards and their high-profile public personas?  As leaders in a new, as-yet-undefined field of journalism, early columnists carved out a distinctly, even proudly female niche of interpersonal reportage. In this paper, Julie Golia examines the impact of “soft news” female reporters on the profession of journalism, arguing that advice columnists both widened and limited options for women journalists.


September 22, 2009

Theory Monday: Barbara Johnson Memorial Gathering

Barbara Johnson passed away on August 27. Marianne Hirsch, Patricia Williams, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak invite you to join them at an informal memorial gathering of readings and reflections. Please come and bring a brief passage from her work that you might wish to read.  This memorial is part of IRWaG's "Theory Monday" series which is dedicated to conversations about important books.  We wish to honor Johnson's brilliant and ground-breaking theoretical contributions by reading and talking about her work in her memory.

Barbara Ellen Johnson was a Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society at Harvard University where she taught for the past 25 years. Johnson  earned her undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, and her PHD from Yale.  A world renowned literary critic and theorist, Johnson was the author of numerous books including Defigurations du langage poetiqueThe Critical DifferenceA World of DifferenceThe Wake of DeconstructionThe Feminist Difference, and her latest book, Persons and Things, published last year.  She treated her final degenerative illness with mordant wit and courage, continuing to write and bringing to publication her extraordinary translation of Mallarme's 1897 version of Divagations in 2007.


March 9, 2009

Theory Monday: Nadia Abu El-Haj on Donna Haraway

The Institute for Research on Women and Gender is pleased to invite graduate students and faculty from from the Columbia and Barnard communities to participate in a series of conversations about important books. We will meet once a month, on Mondays from 4 pm to 6 pm, in 465 Schermerhorn Extention (Anthro Lounge).  Readings will be circulated in advance and conversations will be led by a member of the faculty.  Readings for next semester will be selected by those present and should address graduate students' interests. 


March 9, 2009

Gender and 'Peace-Work': The Participation of Israeli Women in Formal Peace Negotiations 1992-2000
Sarai Aharoni, Gender Studies Program, Bar-Ilan University

Sarai Aharoni is a researcher at the Gender Studies Program, Bar-IlanUniversity. Her work focuses upon the broad intersection between gender, peace and security in the Israeli context. She will be talking about herrecent study which was designed to assess the gender division of labor in the formal Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations (1992-2000). The researchsuggests a unique documentation of the Oslo peace process based upon the perspectives of women who worked as professional and legal advisors,spokeswomen and secretaries, and discusses the role of bureaucratic nstitutions in multi-level peace negotiations.


March 7, 2009

Interdisciplinary Panel on Embodiment: A faculty panel on the body, featuring professors Jenny Davidson, English and Comparative Literature, Geraldine Downey, Psychology, Coco Fusco, Spanish and Portuguese, Eugenia Lean, East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Beth Povinelli, Anthropology. Please join us for this unique opportunity to see interdisciplinary dialogue in action! A reception will follow in 754 Schermerhorn Extension.


February 9, 2009

Theory Monday: Elizabeth Povinelli on Judith Butler

The Institute for Research on Women and Gender is pleased to invite graduate students and faculty from from the Columbia and Barnard communities to participate in a series of conversations about important books. We will meet once a month, on Mondays from 4 pm to 6 pm, in 465 Schermerhorn Extention (Anthro Lounge).  Readings will be circulated in advance and conversations will be led by a member of the faculty.  Readings for next semester will be selected by those present and should address graduate students' interests. We will be going over Butler's Gender Trouble, specifically: the preface and chapters 1 and 3.


February 5, 2009

Feminist Pedagogy: You are invited to join faculty members Alice Kessler-Harris, Rachel Adams, and Julie Crawford for a lively discussion of feminist pedagogy on February 5, from 12-2pm.  We have asked each speaker to share their  experience in designing and teaching courses on women and gender; they will also suggest approaches to incorporating feminist scholarship and  gender analysis in courses that are not explicitly about gender.Lunch will be provided for all participants, please RSVP if you plan to attend.  Participants in the Feminist Pedagogy course, to begin on February 6, are especially encouraged to attend.


November 24, 2008


Panelists include: Katherine Franke (Columbia Law School), Kevin Maillard (Fordham Law School), and Alice Kessler-Harris (Columbia, History Dept.).  Moderated by: Elizabeth Povinelli (Columbia, Anthropology Dept.).  Please join us for a discussion on California's Proposition 8 and its aftermath.


November 16, 2007

Reading in New Scholarship: Please join other graduate students for a lunch and a discussion of selections from Lee Edelman's 2004 book NO FUTURE: Queer Theory and the Death Drive at 11:00am on Friday, November 16 in 754 Schermerhorn Extension (the IRWaG seminar room). Food will be served.

About the reading: In this radical work--called a “polemic” by the author himself--Edelman addresses the “reproductive futurism” inherent in mainstream political discourse and argues that the truly radical potential of queer oppositional politics lies in its future-negating figuring of the death drive. His work is a significant and provocative contribution to recent scholarly conversations about queer temporality, and we hope that you will join our discussion.

“On every side, our enjoyment of liberty is eclipsed by the lengthening shadow of a Child whose freedom to develop undisturbed by encounters, or even by the threat of potential encounters, with an ‘otherness’ of which its parents, its church, or the state do not approve, uncompromised by any possible access to what is painted as alien desire, terroristically holds us all in check and determines that political discourse conform to the logic of a narrative wherein history unfolds as the future envisioned for a Child who must never grow up” (Edelman 21).


April 27, 2007

Aagje Ieven, Fulbright visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University

"The Subject of Rights (m/f)? The European Court of Human Rights' Jurisprudence on Transsexuals"

This talk considers the European Court of Human Rights’ recent adjudication on transsexualism. While generally seen as having improved the condition of transsexuals, Aajge Ieven questions the Court’s requirement of complete physical adaptation to the new sex. This requirement involves severe physical harm, does not protect transgendered individuals, and reinforces the assumption that legal sex reflects biological sex and that biological sex is unambiguous, singular, static, and binary. Examining different types of legal regulations which differentiate or discriminate on the basis of sex, Ieven argues that only non-discrimination measures are necessary for a stable democratic society, and that, for this purpose, legal sex does not need to be an unambiguous, singular, static, and binary structured category recorded at birth.

Aagje Ieven is a Fulbright visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Human Rights. She is a doctoral candidate in Law at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Medicine (Leuven, 1998), Ieven completed her master’s degree in Philosophy with a thesis on the tensions between feminism and liberalism. At Columbia, Ms. Ieven will be conducting research for her doctoral dissertation on “Privacy between Autonomy and Identity: an Ethical Political Perspective on Privacy Rights in European and International Human Rights Law.”


March 30, 2007

Martha Howell, Miriam Champion Professor of History, Columbia University

"Redefining Marriage: “Movable” Wealth & the Emergence of the Companionate Marriage in Early Modern Europe, 1300-1700"

The history of the rise of the “companionate marriage,” a marriage formed by the mutual consent of the couple alone and based on romantic love and friendship rather than socioeconomic and political interests, is usually told in terms of culture and demography: first, the medieval church’s insistence on consent as the foundation of marriage “freed” people to marry for romantic love and, second, the birth of the nuclear family enabled new, intimate ties between husband and wife.

At this Friday’s breakfast, Martha Howell shares with us from her current book project in asking how property remained part of the equation and arguing that the commercialization of wealth during this period helps account for the ideology and practices associated with the notion of "companionate marriage."

Howell is the author of The Marriage Exchange: Property, Social Place and Gender in Cities of the Low Countries, 1300-1550 and Women, Production, and Patriarchy in Late Medieval Cities.


January 26, 2007

Carol Sanger, Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law, Columbia University

"Developing Markets in Baby-Making: In the Matter of Baby M"

Carol Sanger is the Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law at Columbia’s Law School. Her research centers on regulation of maternal conduct, minors and abortion, and law's relation to culture. At this breakfast, Sanger will lead a discussion on what might well be termed the custody trial of the century: the case of Baby M.

This case set the stage for debates about the commoditization of children, women’s reproductive autonomy, and the meaning of family in an era of technological possibilities. Sanger asks how it was that two couples, strangers to one another with nothing in common but complementary desires, were able to connect and reach a deal regarding the most intimate of arrangements: insemination, pregnancy, and parenthood. In other words, how did a market for baby-making get going in New Jersey in the mid-1980s?


November 10, 2006

Jean Howard & Ansley Erickson, Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives & History Department Ph.D. Candidate, respectively

Jean Howard & Ansley Erickson, speaking on "Glass Ceilings: Parenting and Academia." Please join us for a discussion of the current situation facing parents at Columbia and in academia. Parenting is an issue that is pervasive in academic life, yet it tends to only be discussed when it is a problem, as a problem, and in segmented chunks: faculty, adjuncts, students, and others are considered individually. For anyone whose present or future resides in academia, with hopes for a life outside of academia.


September 15, 2006

Elizabeth Castelli, Associate Professor of Religion, Barnard College, on "Branded By God: Christian Teen Revivalism and the Culture Wars Remixed "


February 3, 2006

Anupama Rao, Assistant Professor of History, Barnard College, on The Caste Question.

Anupama Rao will discuss those excerpts from her forthcoming book, The Caste Question, which pertain to debates about sexuality, caste, masculinity, and family during the first four decades of the twentieth century. She will use this as an occassion to reflect more broadly on issues of embodiment and political emancipation in a comparative perspective.

Professor Rao is an assistant professor in the Barnard History department. Her scholarly interests include colonial law, violence, feminist theory, and anti-colonial nationalism. In addition to 'The Caste Question,' she is the author of 'Discipline and the Other Body,' (Duke, Spring 2006); 'Violence, Vulnerability and embodiment (featured in a special issue of Gender and History); 'Gender and Caste: Contemporary Issues in Indian Feminism'; and an essay in Subaltern Studies XII.


October 21, 2005

Neguin Yavari, Assistant Professor of Islam in the Religion Department, on: "Islam, Feminism and Islamic Feminism."


November 11, 2005

Ariela Dubler, Associate Professor of Columbia Law School, on: "Immoral Purposes: Marriage & the Genus of Illicit Sex."

Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Course opinion striking down Texas’s same-sex sodomy law, is part of a larger history: that of attempts by federal lawmakers and judges to define the genus of illicit sex, as well as its relationship to the genus of licit sex. Professor Dubler joined us to discuss the ways in which marriage has served as a socio-legal prism thorugh which courts have defined sexual boundaries.