February 28, 2018

Gender Studies Symposium Explores (in)Security

The 37th annual Gender Studies Symposium will explore what security looks like in the face of modern dangers. Students, faculty, and guests from Portland and beyond will examine issues through the lenses of community engagement, gender politics, and misconceptions surrounding sexuality. The student-run symposium runs from Wednesday, March 7 to Friday, March 9.

At the 37th annual Gender Studies Symposium, titled inSECURITY, students will engage in discussions centered around forms of freedom, including physical safety, financial stability, and intellectual freedom. Who or what is worth securing, who has access to security for themselves and their community, and how might imagination and resistance flourish in the face of structures that preserve insecurity?

The symposium is largely student run and requires a coordinated effort each year. It’s not always easy, according to Annie Baker BA ’18, one of four cochairs for the symposium, but it is rewarding: “It’s been really great working with such an excellent team and having such a hands-on role in developing this symposium for its 37th year. The role offers a great opportunity for students to bring programming to the campus that they are truly interested in and care about.”

“Our gender studies program was actually the first of its kind in the country, and both the program and the symposium have been highly valued on our campus and in the Portland community for quite some time,” said Annie. “We hope that the symposium stimulates and continues conversations surrounding gender, sexuality, and (in)security that have been happening both in our classrooms and on a national level, and encourages us to think more deeply about what security or the lack thereof looks like on our own campus.”

The symposium will feature three keynote speakers:

  • Melanie Richter-Montpetit, professor of politics at University of Sheffield, will provide an in-depth analysis of feminist security in the “colonial present,” on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

  • Beth E. Richie, professor of African American studies, law, and criminology at the University of Illinois, Chicago, will present on female incarceration and a black feminist response to state and intimate violence on Thursday at 7 p.m.

  • Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, writer, educator, and disability and transformational justice organizer, will conclude the symposium with a “real-talk approach to saving the world” through harm reduction and transformative justice on Friday at 7 p.m.

Clelia Davis Del Piccolo BA ’18 and cochair Baker are excited to use the keynote presentations to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the symposium.

“Our theme of security addresses academic fields that aren’t always thought to be connected to gender studies, such as economics, political science, and international affairs,” the cochairs said. “Because of this, we’re excited about getting new students to engage with the symposium who may have never been interested in or felt that their studies were relevant to gender studies before.”

The symposium committee is also proud to add a fundraiser for YWCA’s Between the Lines program. The cochairs—Baker, Del Piccolo, Nick Hensel BA ’18, and Paradise Razma BA ’18—wanted to engage with the theme of security on a local and communal level, and will do so in supporting this initiative that facilitates quarterly readings at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility to help incarcerated mothers connect to their children through literacy.

Throughout the symposium, Watzek Library will have a temporary exhibit displaying for the first time its collection of material relating to the lesbian communes that developed in eastern Oregon throughout the second half of the twentieth century.

“It feels like this set of questions is especially urgent and pressing not only in the current US political climate but more globally as well, and it’s always inspiring and exhilarating to bring together students, faculty, and community leaders from so many different places to think together about complex issues,” said Professor Kim Brodkin, director of the symposium.

The full schedule of events can be found here. All events are free and open to the public.

Gender Studies

Interdisciplinary Programs

This story was written by Emily Price BA ’18 and Yancee Gordon BA ’21.