2013-2014: Our Bodies, Ourselves?

In keeping with the Fisher Center’s mission of supporting research and dialogue about gender through curricular, programmatic, and scholarly projects, the Fisher Center Steering Committee announces a call for applications for our 2013-2014 Fisher Center Faculty Fellowships. Fellows will meet as a two-hour seminar twice a month where they will share research and discuss common texts. Each Fellow will receive a four thousand dollar research stipend for the 2013-2014 academic year. The theme for 2013-2014 is Our Bodies, Ourselves?

Over forty years ago, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective published Our Bodies, Ourselves, a landmark of feminist organization and knowledge production with respect to women’s health and sexuality. While this project has expanded considerably since its initial publication in 1971, we are intrigued by its early DIY (do-it-yourself) spirit and its commitment to enriching the common good through access to information. Our Bodies, Ourselves evokes the collective excitement of women conducting their own research on their bodies, the culture of autonomous political organization, and the audacity of sexualities that exceed normalizing constraints.

What would the intentions motivating the initial project generate today? In 2013-2014, the Fisher Center will expand on the enmeshments of self-care, embodied knowledge, and political commitment motivating Our Bodies, Ourselves. We want to channel its spirit to ask where and who we are now with respect to political organizing and embodied knowledge. Thus, we are less interested in looking at our bodies, ourselves than we are in treating Our Bodies, Ourselves as a critical lens, a point of reference, and an analytical framework for further discussion.

Recent scholarship within and across a broad array of disciplines and fields has multiplied the questions that emerge at the intersection of care, knowledge, and organization. Work on biotechnologies of reproduction, practices of risk management, and techniques of population control has shown the multiple and uneven ways that norms of gender, race, and ability become mapped through the capture and calculation of the body’s capacities. Investigations into cultural practices of care, intimacy, and affection have opened up our understandings of social relations, self-knowledge, and collective reproduction. Studies of health, nutrition, disease, birth, childhood, aging, and death reveal not only the impact of systemic inequality but also the ongoing influence of modes of state and economic power insofar as injunctions to health enfold bodies into regimes of surveillance and discipline. Meditations on technologies, affects, brains, genes, epistemologies, and environments have called into question assumptions regarding the closed or bounded nature of bodies, demonstrating the uneasiness of the conjunction of body to self.

The Fisher Center Steering Committee is interested in projects, then, that position bodies and embodiment as sites of problems of care, knowledge, and organization. We aim to put together a highly interdisciplinary research seminar and encourage applications from groups as well as individuals.

The Fisher Center Research Fellowships and the Fisher Center Research Group are the central components of an initiative adopted in 2012-2013 directed toward realizing the mission of the Fisher Center to involve an interdisciplinary community of faculty, students, and experts from outside the Colleges in gender-based conversations and research. The Fisher Center Steering Committee adopted this initiative with the goal of building from the Fisher Center’s previous success in guiding campus-wide discussions of relations between women and men in multiple domains. Whereas the Fisher Center has worked to bring exciting speakers to campus, this initiative supports the exciting work of our Colleges’ faculty as well as independent scholars.

Each year four or five Research Fellows will be chosen to participate in the Fisher Center Research Group (additional members of the Fisher Center Research Group will include the Fisher Center Pre-doctoral Fellow and the Director of the Fisher Center). The Fisher Center Research Group will meet regularly to discuss their research on a common theme. Each Fisher Center Research Fellow will present her or his work to the broader community. Experts from outside the Colleges (2 each term) will work with the research group in addition to giving a public presentation.

The theme for 2013-2014 was selected by the Fisher Center Steering Committee in light of informal conversations with other members of the HWS community. In subsequent years, the Fisher Center Steering Committee will host an informal conversation with HWS faculty to generate themes best suited to ongoing faculty projects.



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