From my feminist mothering studies standpoint, all violence is connected. Violence towards children, women, LGBT people, racalized people (and, of course, all the ways that many of us are have been or are all of these identities at once) is all about who has the right of protection from the state and who doesn’t. Who counts as a citizen? Who is seen as worthy of protection? Which people’s bodies are seen as in need of physical discipline? As I argued in my recent essay “Disciplining the Unruly (National) Body in Staceyann Chin’s The Other Side of Paradise” in Small Axe, which you are welcome to download from my academia.edu page, violence in the Americas is rooted in colonialism and slavery. All of our societies in the Americas have roots in notions of freedom that is exclusionary and in public spaces that need to be policed violently in order to keep them segregated by race and gender to maintain the image of a white national body politic. And so the Black, brown, Native body has long been considered dangerous as many scholars have written about, but as I argue was actually dangerous to notions of exclusionary racist nationalism. The presence of people of color in public spaces challenges the idea of the nation space as being always already white. So to explain this to white people, this is how you get police practices or violence enacted by white people in “self-defense” that see people of color as inherently suspicious and dangerous because by the logics of racist nationalism they are.
If you’re headed to NWSA, please come introduce yourself to me and join the discussion. We’ve structured out time so that we’re each presenting for 5-7 minutes so there will be plenty of time for conversation. PRCC, 209-B. Saturday 2:30-3:45
Building on the recent publication by Demeter Press of Counting on Marilyn Waring: New Advances in Feminist Economics, this MIRCI sponsored roundtable provides new approaches to thinking about mothering, labor, and economics. Questions central to feminist economics such as what counts as labor, what kinds of labor are valued, and what labor and laborers are in/visible in both public and private spheres that are becoming increasingly blurred, resonate strongly within contemporary mothering studies. The roundtable represents a variety of disciplinary and practitioner perspectives, including that of an entrepreneur/blogger, a graduate student, a junior faculty member, and three tenured faculty. We interrogate love and labor from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives and institutional locations, including bloggers who write about improving work culture for mothers (askmoxie.org and mitacoach.wordpress.com), and as well as new scholarship on ideologies of caregiving and labor related to biological motherhood as the only “real” choice for women and in intensive mothering, the invisibility of stepmothers’ labor, and needed historical context for the legacies motherhood as profession stemming from the fin de siècle.
In honor of the upcoming National Women’s Studies Association Conference this week in Puerto Rico, I’m reposting one of my most popular pieces from the blog.
Every conference is an opportunity to make connections with other scholars and talk to an informed audience about your work. Here are some of my top tips for getting the most out of academic conferences.
• First, take time to think through which conferences are worth your time and energy. Most of us don’t have unlimited conference travel funds. When you add in the costs of extra childcare and the time it takes to craft a good conference paper, it only makes sense to carefully choose where to present your work. For me, with the ages of my children and my regional university’s limited professional development funds, I usually only attend two conferences a year. I’ve found attending of a broad international conference related to one of my disciplines, like the National Women’s Studies Association Conference and a smaller specialized conference, like the Caribbean Studies Association Conference useful…
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Today is the first day of the MITACoach Workshop. A key component of the workshop, besides the workbook, curated readings, and flash consultation with me, is storytelling.
I started MITACoach as a way to help mothers working in the academy find support and community. As mothers and as academics there is a lot of pressure not to share our complex stories. The editors of Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia write movingly about the many women faculty members who wanted to share their stories about being in the academy in this anthology, but who decided they couldn’t publish their experiences because they were afraid of the professional backlash. Today we’re starting to break that silence by telling about our experiences and so gaining community and and support.
I firmly believe that our academic institutions are better when everyone has a seat at the table. Feminist theories of knowledge production have demonstrated that we produce much more complete pictures of the world when we have researchers who come from a diversity of viewpoints. Retaining mothers in graduate school and as faculty members would be a huge step in the right direction, and one way to do that is to have our experiences validated.
In parenting lingo, “transition” refers to times when we ask our kids to switch gears from one activity to the next, like ending a playdate so that you can go home. Transitions for my kids often meant tantrums. “No leave the park!” my two year old would scream, alerting everyone to my wonderful parenting skills.
We’re also making some big transitions in the academic year. So if you’re feeling tantrumy (that should be a word), you’re not alone. Just at the point when many of us are most tired, we’re asked to recalibrate our routine. Some of us are making the transition from teaching to focusing more in our research, administrative tasks, or syllabi redesign during the summer. Others are ending winter term classes and gearing up for their spring/summer teaching. If you have kids, especially those too old for daycare, the transition from school to camps or at home child care is just around the corner, which can be trying for everyone.
In the coming weeks I’ll be talking more about strategies for a peaceful transition to the summer months. For now, here are three tips for managing this transitional time. Rejuvenate, Reprioritize, and Reflect will be central themes of our June Workshop aimed at helping you make the most of your summer and early fall.
If you’re like me, you might have a bunch of stuff, both personal and professional, that you’ve put on the back burner until the semester is over. My best advice is that these things can take wait a bit longer. If you can, try to take at least a day where you’re not being goal oriented to let your brain relax. It’s even better if you can put aside a couple of days to restart a gentle exercise program if that has gone by the wayside, get a massage, or spend time with friends. Binge tv watch. Nap. If this seems indulgent, it’s not. You’ve been working hard and you need a break. Full stop.
If you do have fewer teaching responsibilities, this can be a good time to reflect on what has gone well in the past year, and what hasn’t with your teaching and research. I like to keep a single Word document where I list ideas for future classes and what I wouldn’t do again. I also sometimes use the reviewing function of word to mark up my syllabi with notes about reordering texts, or revising assignments.
Once your brain is rested, think about August 30th. What would you need to have accomplished by then for you to feel good about your summer? What experiences do you want to have with your family? What work would you need to do in the next 10-12 weeks? Most importantly, what can you realistically do during this time period so you don’t end up mad at yourself? For example, drafting a journal article and teaching one class is probably realistic if you have a lot of child care. If you want to spend more time with your kids this summer, then adjust your productivity goals accordingly.
I’m thrilled that my roundtable, “Mothering, Love, and Labor: New Feminist Perspectives,” was accepted at NWSA – it will be an amazing overview of visionary ideas about mothering and labor with Magda Pecsenye, Elizabeth Bruno, Kirsti K. Cole, Roksana Badruddoja, Melissa Purdue, and me presenting.
I’m just as excited that my panel, “Caribbean Feminisms: Decolonizing Postcolonial Spaces” was accepted with April Mayes, Elena Machado Sáez, Dana M. Linda and me again, presenting. Congrats to everyone for proposing such great papers!
As I’m reviewing submissions for the National Women’s Studies Association roundtable I’m organizing in conduction with MIRCI , “Mothering, Love, and Labor,” I came across this quote. It spoke to me as an example of how values of caregiving could create justice in the public sphere.