Campus War Machine: Sex and Debt
In 2014-15, the Fisher Center considers the ways gender figures into the wars being waged on, by, or in the name of higher education. There is a growing discourse in the U.S. and globally on the systems of inequality that underpin the educational system. Debt bondage, the casualization of academic labor, the proliferation of rape culture, DOD funded research, the privatization of public education, the subsumption of educational practices to the dictates of market-driven technological innovations, the inability for many youth to attend school in war-torn societies, and the repression of student protests are all features of the low and high-intensity wars being waged on college campuses. At the same time, title IX sexual assault suits, organized resistance to corporate and government surveillance, progressive research in the sciences and humanities, and academic boycotts suggest that campuses are fighting back. What are the invisible ways that college campuses produce and transmit material, financial, environmental, gendered, and psychological violences? Conversely, how does the campus, as a site for radical thought, activism, and change, disrupt these violences?
Debt Resistance in a Creditocracy
In a creditocracy, everything has to be personally debt-financed, and most of are burdened with debts that can never be paid off. Our elected officials have proved unable to protect citizens from economic harms directly imposed by the creditor class. Under these circumstances, is debt resistance justified? What form should it take? Andrew Ross draws on his experiences as a debt activist to ask how popular democracy can be salvaged.
Biography: Andrew Ross is a social activist and Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU. A contributor to the Guardian, the New York Times, the Nation, and Al Jazeera, he is the author of many books, including Bird On Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City, Nice Work if You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times, Fast Boat to China--Lessons from Shanghai, No-Collar: The Humane Workplace and its Hidden Costs, and The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Property Value in Disney’s New Town. His most recent book is Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal, available from OR Books.
Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is Professor of Women's Studies and English at Emory University. Her fields of study are feminist theory, American literature, and disability studies. Her work develops the field of disability studies in the humanities and women's and gender studies. This year she is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is author of Staring: How We Look and Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Literature and Culture; co-editor of Re-Presenting Disability: Museums and the Politics of Display and Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities; and editor of Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body. Her current book-in-progress, entitled Habitable Worlds, concerns the logic and design of inclusive public space.
Alexis Pauline Gumbs
A queer black troublemaker, a black feminist love evangelist, a prayer poet priestess, Alexis Pauline Gumbs has a PhD in English, African and African-American Studies, and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University. Alexis was the first scholar to research the Audre Lorde Papers at Spelman College, the June Jordan Papers at Harvard University, and the Lucille Clifton Papers at Emory University, and she is currently on tour with her interactive oracle project “The Lorde Concordance,” a series of ritual mobilizing the life and work of Audre Lorde as a dynamic sacred text. Alexis has also published widely on Caribbean Women’s Literature with a special interest in Dionne Brand. Alexis is the author of an acclaimed collection of poems 101 Things That Are Not True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive. She has several books in progress including a book of poems, Good Hair Gone Forever, a scholarly monograph on diaspora and the maternal, and an educational resource called the School of Our Lorde. Alexis is the founder of Brilliance Remastered, a service to help visionary underrepresented graduate students stay connected to purpose, passion, and community, co-founder of the Mobile Homecoming Project, a national experiential archive amplifying generations of Black LGBTQ Brilliance, and the community school Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind.
A Professor of Social and Cultural Studies in Education at the University of Alabama, Erevelles's teaching and research interests lie in the areas of disability studies, critical race theory, transnational feminism, sociology of education, and postcolonial studies. Specifically, her research focuses on the unruly, messy, unpredictable and taboo body – a habitual outcast in educational (and social) contexts. Erevelles asks: Why do some bodies matter more than others? In raising this question “why,” the tenor of her scholarship shifts from description to explanation to highlight the implications exploitative social/economic arrangements have for making bodies matter (or not) in particular historical and material contexts. Erevelles argues that disability as a central critical analytic can have transformative potential in addressing issues as varied as inclusive schooling, critical/radical pedagogies/curricula, HIV/AIDS education, facilitated communication, school violence, multicultural education, and the sex curriculum. Her insistence on an intersectional analysis foregrounds the dialectical relationship between disability and the other constructs of difference, namely race, class, gender, and sexuality and its brutal implications for (disabled) students in U. S. public schools and (disabled) citizens in transnational contexts. Additionally, transforming her theoretical leanings to committed praxis, she deploys the lens of disability studies to urge her students to think harder, deeper, and more courageously outside the confines of normative modes of education and social theory that only seek to discipline bodies rather than empower them.
The Fisher Center brings together faculty, students, and experts in gender-related fields in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary society.
Building upon their long-held commitment to interdisciplinary liberal arts education for men and women, both separately and together, Hobart and William Smith Colleges established (in 1998) the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men to support curricular, programmatic, and scholarly projects which address the question:
How do we more nearly realize, through our educational program, scholarship, and presence in the larger community, our democratic ideals of equity, mutual respect, and common interest in relations between men and women?