Fisher Center


No Place Like Home

What does it mean to render “home” as like no place?

When millions of people are seeking refuge, what does “home” index and for whom? Can we continue to imagine home as a place of security, comfort, intimacy, and identity production, the place that determines who we are? Or might the absence of a place like home suggest a fundamental displacement, an inescapable lack inscribed already in promises of security and fantasies of identity? When the intertwined intensifications of capitalism and technology crisscross time and space, subjecting every domain to unceasing expectations of accessibility, visibility, productivity, and compliance, when, in other words, the separation of paid work and expectation of privacy that gave “home” a place for some have broken down, what is the no place that home is like? When ecological catastrophe is remaking the world, where can home be, if there is no place like it?

Over the course of the year, we’ll consider the diverse productions of and investments in “home.” How do culturally specific assumptions regarding proper homes support settler colonialism, policing, incarceration, and abandonment? How are these assumptions raced and gendered? What are the material, affective, fantastic, and embodied processes through which a place becomes home and home becomes a place? What sorts of projects and subjectivities do particular invocations of home incite? We’ll also consider the concepts that are constellated around notions of home. What are the differences between housing and home, between transient spaces and the places where one dwells? What kinds of identities are produced when temporary places—prisons, motels, universities, cars, camps—become home? What is the relationship between home as fantasy space and home as workplace?

How is it that home inspires longing and fear?

Spring 2017

April 5

Kate Hardy, Ph.D.

Unproductive bodies, undesirable citizens: reconceptualizing displacement in austerity London

7 p.m., Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212

London promised that hosting the Olympics would result in “homes for all.” The reality has the deterioration of the real-life housing situation of many East Londoners.

This talk draws on participatory action research with the Focus E15 campaign who have been organizing those facing homelessness and displacement. The homeless are disproportionately female, with dependents (children under 16) and health or disability needs. These citizens are rendered undesirable and unproductive as a result of the disavowal and misrecognition of reproductive labor and the marginalization of people with impairments in the labor market.

March 22

Mike Bonanno

Making Meaningful Mischief

7 p.m., Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212

Can pranks, mischief, and creativity change the course of history? Mike Bonanno of the notorious “Yes Men” will answer that question and more in a lively talk that begins with a brief history of tricksters and progress, and ends with lively autobiographical lessons he’s learned in over 20 years of comic creative direct action.

Filmmaker Mike Bonanno is one half of the progressive prankster duo known as The Yes Men. Their outrageous satirical interventions at business events, on the internet, television, and in the streets form the basis of three award-winning feature documentary films, The Yes Men and The Yes Men Fix the World, and The Yes Men are Revolting. They are the founders of a nonprofit training program for creative direct action called the Yes Lab.

February 22

Dorothy Chansky

Home and the Range (of Performative Representations)

7 p.m., Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212

“Home” carries cultural clout as an adjective in the overused “home cooking.” Likewise, it is freighted with meaning when it is marshaled to help designate a kind of work and a stereotyped worker in “homemaking” and “homemaker.” This freight and clout are often illdefined— even reductive—yet they travel unremarked widely in advertising, education, theatre, and film as labels meant to shorthand value. This talk considers the questions that motivated Chansky’s recent book, Kitchen Sink Realisms: Domestic Labor, Dining, and Drama in American Theatre, where the driving concern is how mainstream notions about facets of domesticity—those with the clout and freight noted above—are deployed in American plays and performance art, either with an eye to shoring up or to subverting received opinion about them. Chansky will also discuss Yoko Ono’s Kitchen Piece (1960-61, 1966, and 1970), considering how venue and genre—like “home” and artistic disciplines, a slippery concept—inflects readings and understandings of representations of domesticity.

Fall 2016

September 6

Stephanie Kenific '17

Our Schools: Building an Anti-Bias Classroom

5:00 p.m., Community Room of the Geneva Public Library

2016 Woodworth Fellow and William Smith senior Stephanie Kenific '17 leads a participatory workshop on anti-racist and intersectional curriculum in public schools. Stephanie is currently engaged in reshaping the Common Core Learning Curriculum to serve anti-racist and feminist principles in the context of a 9th grade English classroom. This workshop will be her first public presentation of the ongoing project and will take the form of a complete lesson. Attendees can expect to engage in critical discussion regarding language, race, and radical education. A model fish-bowl conversation with HWS students will activate Stephanie’s curriculum and provide a model for action-based intergroup dialogue in the classroom.

September 28

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

You Can’t Fix a Broken Foundation”: Black Women’s Housing in the 1970s

7:00 p.m., Geneva Room

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, is the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. In the words of Cornel West, ““This brilliant book is the best analysis we have of the #BlackLivesMatter moment of the long struggle for freedom in America. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has emerged as the most sophisticated and courageous radical intellectual of her generation.”

Her talk will draw from her work in progress, Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis of the 1970s, which looks at the federal government's promotion of single-family homeownership in Black communities after the urban rebellions of the 1960s. She considers the impact of the turn to market-based solutions on  Black neighborhoods, Black women on welfare, and emergent discourses on the urban “underclass.”

October 26

Frank B. Wilderson III

7:00 p.m., Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212

Frank B. Wilderson III, Professor of Drama and African American Studies at the University of California at Irvine.

Frank Wilderson is an award-winning writer, activist, and critical theorist who spent five and a half years in South Africa, where he was one of two Americans to have held an elected office in the African National Congress during the country’s transition from apartheid. He also worked clandestinely as a member of the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK). He is the author of Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid, which received the American Book Award, the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award, the Eisner Prize for Creative Achievement of the Highest Order, and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship. He is also the author of a book on cinema, politics, and race: Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms (Duke University Press, 2010). His poetry, creative prose, critical, and film production are predicated on the notion that slavery did not end in 1865; the United States simply made adjustments to the force of Black resistance without diminishing the centrality of Black captivity to the stability and coherence of civil society. This assumptive logic has helped catalyze a new school of thought in the academy and beyond, called Afro-Pessimism.

His talk will interrogate the ethics of thinking “home” as a cognitive map- and gender as an ensemble of spatio-temporal capacities that exceed and anticipate all sentient beings. These presumptively generic maps and capacities are void of coherence when the adjective “Black” precedes them—an injunction which is more paradigmatic in nature than performative. His talk will explore how this injunction prohibiting Black recognition through- and incorporation into the domestic scene is necessary for domesticity and gender to be tangibly constructed within political economy as well as for the fortification and extension of their imaginative labors within the libidinal economy; in short, how and why anti-Blackness is a prerequisite for world-making at every scale of abstraction, even the body and the home.

November 9

Premilla Nadasen

Labor of Love: Social Reproduction and the Politics of Care

7:00 p.m., Fisher Center, Demarest Hall 212

The "caring economy" has often been used to describe the labor of social reproduction--both paid and unpaid labor in the home.  But is the language of care a useful framework to analyze this work?  And if so, from whose perspective?  This paper will examine the politics of care in movement for household workers' rights in the 1970s.  Paid domestic workers were emotionally invested in the work, yet they never saw it as a labor of love.  Their claim for rights was based in a language of entitlement and erasing rather than highlighting the artificial distinction between work inside and outside the home.

Premilla Nadasen is an associate professor of history at Barnard College and a scholar-activist who writes and speaks on issues of race, gender, social policy and labor history.    She is most interested in visions of social change, and the ways in which poor and working-class people, especially women of color, have fought for social justice.  She has published extensively on the multiple meanings of feminism, alternative labor movements, and grass-roots community organizing.  She is the author of the award-winning Welfare Warriors, which documents the welfare rights movement claim to a basic minimum income in the 1960s.  Her most recent book is Household Workers Unite (Beacon 2015), a history of domestic worker activism in the post-war period.

December 7

Trinh T. Minh-ha

Trinh T. Minh-ha presents her 2015 film "Forgetting Vietnam"

7 p.m., Fish Screening Room, Gearan Center for the Performing Arts

”Forgetting Vietnam” features the encounter between the ancient as related to the solid earth, and the new as related to the liquid changes in a time of rapid globalization. In conversation with these two parts is a third space, that of historical and cultural re-memory — or what local inhabitants, immigrants and veterans remember of yesterday’s stories to comment on today’s events. Through the insights of these witnesses to one of America’s most divisive wars, Vietnam’s specter and its contributions to world history remain both present and all too easy to forget. Touching on a trauma of international scale, “Forgetting Vietnam” is made in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the end of the war and of its survivors. Minh-ha is a prize-winning filmmaker, writer and composer who has made eight films and authored 14 books.


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?


Hobart and William Smith Colleges,
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 781-3000

Contact the Colleges


Offices and Resources
Campus Directory

make a gift

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.