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Call for Abstracts and Presentations on Body Image and Body Politics

Breaking Boundaries:
Body Politics and the Dynamics of Difference


a Women's History Conference at Sarah Lawrence College
Bronxville, New York
March 4-5, 2011
Free and Open to the Public

Keynote Speaker:

Marilyn Wann
Fat Activist and Author of Fat!So?

When it comes to “the body,” the definition of normal is fluid and changes across cultures and time. In each context, there are those who have been exploited and oppressed because they do not fit prevailing notions of beauty. This conference will explore the body politics around those with “deviant” bodies.

This conference will address these and other questions:

What are the dominant narratives and perceptions about beauty and bodies?

How do these perceptions affect public policy around issues of health, civil rights, education, and accessibility?

How do those whose bodies do not fit into the “proper” cultural norms challenge attitudes, laws and perceptions? 

How have they negotiated for and found power in unwelcoming environments, both now and in the past?

How do the categories of race, class, gender, sexuality, age and disability complicate prevailing ideas about embodiment? 

Are there and have there been communities and cultures that have welcomed those whose bodies are currently perceived as deviant in dominant popular discourse?

And, what is the relationship between promoting and continuing the dominant discourse and capitalist consumer culture?

We invite activists, scholars and artists in all fields to propose papers, panels, workshops, performances, and exhibits. Proposals for panels are especially welcomed, but individual papers will also be considered.

Specific topics may include, but are not limited to:

Representations of deviant bodies in popular culture
Social justice and fat and disability activism
Intersectionality:  race, gender, class, sexuality and the body
HAES: Health at Every Size
Stigma
Feminism and the body
Social construction of disability
Objectification and commodification of the deviant body
Fiction and the deviant body
Language and the body
Deviant bodies across cultures and time

Please email a brief abstract and c.v./resume to:

Tara James
Women’s History Graduate Program
Sarah Lawrence College
Bronxville, NY 10708
Email: tjames@sarahlawrence.edu
Phone: 914-395-2405

Deadline December, 3 2010

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Passing Lies

 While trans theorists such as Jack Halberstam

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    Is "The Great Detachment" The New Saviour?

    As a Lady who is more often than not publicly and loudly UnSubtle (why yes she speaks!) (when she is allowed to that is),  I get my fair share of thoroughly silly people who will sprout the most ridiculous reasons for the most inane things. Last week I had to convince someone that I didn't kill people who disagreed with me, that I can talk about things beyond feminism without being entirely sarcastic and the fact that I am still capable of (perhaps?) making jokes despite 'cutting off my fallopian tubes in exchange to be let into the uber cool club of the world's humourless feminists'. Sometimes I just have to say, "I like puppies" and I'll still get some nincompoop call me a 'man-hater' as a sort of reflex to using as little common sense as possible. I am sure you know the type, the one who will cower the moment you give them your MedusaGlare for insinuating you can't be a feminist, simply because you are not lesbian or aren't as hairy as the yeti or have an inordinate liking for bras or so many inconsequential reasons. What actually struck me today when someone accused me of not being feminist or feminist enough because I'm not particularly fond of body hair -- call it the parting gift of colonisation if you will -- is how deeply Western this slur was.

    Feminism as a concept isn't one that is inherently Western. Of course, the feminist cannon, where you can see Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, J. S. Mill and perhaps even Elizabeth Cady Stanton (conveniently excluding Sojourner Truth) dancing around or playing cards while (existentially!) pondering over The Woman Problem In Their Respective Time Zones is as Western as the concept of SystematicCulturalDomination LiberalHumanism itself and just as problematic. Contrary to popular myths, feminism did exist in other 'culture-less' places, even in the very heart of supposed darkness, even in places as far off as India. I remember hearing about Meera Bai as a part of cultural folktales  growing up, who rejected her husband and worshiped the idol of Lord Krishna. Today, beneath the QueerLens, we can assert judging from her poetry that this was a conscious decision, involved full agency and choice. She addresses her husband's impotency in a 'religious' couplet to Krishna -- always under the larger umbrella of religious movements such as the Bhakti movement so as to escape harsher punishment -- even talks about his (small) penis and articulates the exact way she'd like to be loved. All of this addressed to a piece of stone -- her Krishna idol -- or to the ideal man of her dreams enters the realm of a Queer framework. Doesn't she fit, rather squarely the definition of a 'feminist' as we have today? Where she identifies the dominant ideology, subverts and perverts it by mixing erotica with religion. And she is a cannonised voice of sorts herself as she is seen as one of Krishna's most devout followers (no one mentions her sexual transgression though). What about those countless Meera Bai's who never recorded their thoughts, who never wrote or sang out loud? So because of lack of documentable proof, do we exclude those mutated muffles?

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    UN officials urge countries to remove criminal sanctions based on sexual orientation

    17 September 2010Top United Nations officials today appealed to all countries that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity to reform such laws and to ensure the protection of basic human rights for all.

    “No doubt deeply-rooted cultural sensitivities can be aroused when we talk about sexual orientation. Social attitudes run deep and take time to change. But cultural considerations should not stand in the way of basic human rights,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

    In a message to a panel discussion in Geneva on ending violence and criminal sanctions based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which was delivered by UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay, Mr. Ban noted that the responsibilities of the UN and the obligations of States are clear.

    “No one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. No one should be prosecuted for their ideas or beliefs. No one should be punished for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

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    Laura Agustín on Sex Work Facts v. Fiction

    Laura Agustín, author of Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry is seen here discussing sex work in reality and the impact of misconceptions and misinformation on sex workers.  She discusses migrant sex workers, trafficking and the conflicts caused by both.

    Laura Agustín writes as a lifelong migrant and sometime worker in both nongovernmental and academic projects about sex, travel and work.  You can contact her here.

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    International Festival of Contemporary Arts - City of Women

    Between Past & Future

    8.-17. oktober 2010

    This year's edition of the City of Women Festival will address the topic Between Past & Future.

    The conceptual background relates to the eponymous book by Hannah Arendt who, back in the 1960's, argued that the condition of human existence, robbed of the traditional, transcendental, religious and moral standards employed to bridge the abyss between past and future, lost direction.  Artists and theoreticians with various views, experiences, approaches, backgrounds and cultural milieu will challenge audiences between 8th and 17th October with their reflections and responses to the relationship between past and future that we confront today. 

    The events will be held at most various venues, such as Cankarjev Dom, the Kino Šiška Centre for Urban Culture, the Old Power StationElektro Ljubljana, Škuc Gallery, Kinodovr, Glej Theatre, Ljubljana Dance Theatre, Grubar Palace, Tromostovje etc.

    The following artists are participating in City of Women 2010:

    Ditka Haberl, Marcella and The Forget me Nots, Hana Makhmalbaf, Andreja Rauch Podrzavnik, Lauren Newton & Joëlle Léandre, Helena Hunter, Eleanor Bauer, DakhaBrakha, Oreet Ashery, Perry Bard, Stefania Bonatelli, Katharina Hesse & Lara Day, Jessica Lagunas, Vesna Miličević, Nandipha Mntambo, Katarina Mootich, Maflohé Passedouet, Kira O'Reilly, Petra Reimann, Yvonne De Rosa, Judith Witteman, Meta Grgurevič, Miya Masaoka, Antonia Baehr, Nicole Beutler, Tanja Ostojić, Marina Gržinić & Aina Šmid, Ana Hoffner, Isa Rosenberger, Sophie Déraspe, Sonja Heiss, Mia Engberg, Shalimar Preuss, Charlotte Ginsborg, Birgitte Staermose, Manon de Boer, Stereo Total, HK 119, Guerrilla Girls on Tour, Nataša Živković, Katarina Stegnar

    Contact:

    City of Women – Association for the promotion of women in culture
    Kersnikova 4, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Office: Metelkova 6, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Telephone: +386 (0)1 438 15 80
    Mobile: +386 (0) 40 816 448
    E-mail: info(at)cityofwomen.org

    Artistic Director:
    Mara Vujić
    mara(at)cityofwomen.org
    Tel: +386 (0)1 438 1580
    Mob: +386 (0) 40 816 447

    Finances, organization:
    Sandra Đorem
    info(at)cityofwomen.org
    Tel: +386 (0)1 1 438 15 80
    Mob: +386 (0) 40 816 448

    Public relations:
    pr(at)cityofwomen.org
    Tel: +386 (0)11 438 15 80
    Mob: +386 (0) 40 816 448

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    Call for Evidence: Disability Harassment

    We have extended the deadline for providing evidence to Friday 17 September 2010

    We want to hear from anyone who has been bullied or harassed for disability related reasons, and from organisations that work for/with disabled people, including voluntary and community sector organisations, public authorities (such as local councils, police, housing, social services and education) and public transport operators.

    Secure Survey: You can now give us your evidence using our secure portal - with options to complete an online questionnaire or upload files to the Inquiry

    In this section:

    Individuals who have experienced harassment

    If you have been harassed because of your disability, or someone close to you has been affected, we want to hear about your experience. We want to hear from people who are Deaf or disabled, including those with mental health conditions and long term health conditions, as well as their family, friends or associates. We want to know what happened and what public authorities and public transport operators did – or didn’t do – to help.

    Your experiences – positive or negative – will help the Commission to show what police, social services, schools, bus companies and other agencies can do to put an end to the harassment of disabled people in public places and behind closed doors. If you’re not sure what to tell us, we have a questionnaire to help get you started.

    You can give your evidence anonymously but providing a name and contact details will help us if we need to contact you to find out more about what happened. Your personal information will be treated as confidential.

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    Hans Rosling on global population growth

    The world's population will grow to 9 billion over the next 50 years -- and only by raising the living standards of the poorest can we check population growth. This is the paradoxical answer that Hans Rosling unveils at TED@Cannes using colorful new data display technology (you'll see). 

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    "I Fought for This, But Not Just to Be a Housewife"

    By Dalia Acosta

    HAVANA, Sep 3, 2010 (IPS) - Mavi Susel, the first transsexual in Cuba to undergo sex reassignment surgery, back in 1988, has found herself trapped in the traditionally assigned gender role of a housewife.

    "She is a woman imprisoned in that gender role," Marilyn Solaya, the Cuban filmmaker who made the documentary "En el cuerpo equivocado" (In the Wrong Body), told the press.

    The film, which premiered in mid-August in Cuba, was produced with the support of the second edition of DOCTV Latinoamérica, the first regional programme to foment production and television broadcasting of Latin American documentaries.

    The pioneering co-production programme is an alliance between national broadcasting authorities, public TV stations and independent producers from 14 Latin American countries, which provided funds, took part in production and ensured the broadcasting of the documentaries on 18 public TV stations.

    The story of Susel, who underwent gender reassignment surgery on May 22, 1988, goes beyond the "complex and, above all, necessary" issue of transsexualism, to explore "the construction of gender" and the prevalence of the traditional role of women in Cuba, Solaya said.

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    The Gender Roots of Labour Inequality

    By Sebastián Lacunza

    BUENOS AIRES, Aug 5, 2010 (IPS) - Inequality and poverty in Argentina are explained to a large extent by a job market that discriminates against women, coupled with insufficient equal opportunity regulations and failure to enforce existing labour laws, experts on the issue told IPS.

    According to Andrea Balzano, head of the gender division at the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) country office in Argentina, "entering the labour market is the only demographic and social event that enables households to escape poverty."

    But "women are much less likely to join the labour market, and even when they are able to find work, their opportunities are more limited because their insertion occurs through jobs in informal and low productivity sectors," she explained.

    Almost 14 percent of Argentina's 40 million people, and 9.4 percent of its households, are classified as poor, according to data from the government's National Statistics and Census Institute (INDEC) for the first semester of 2010. But private organisations place poverty at 31 percent and abject poverty at 11 percent.

    Natalia Gherardi, executive director of the non-governmental organisation Equipo Latinoamericano de Justicia y Género (ELA - Latin American Team on Justice and Gender), says that "participation in the workforce and insertion in the job market are key factors in overcoming gender inequalities through economic autonomy."

    One of the most telling examples of how Argentina's lack of regulations, large informal sector and gender discrimination shape the situation of women in the job market is the plight of paid domestic workers, a sector that accounts for 18 percent of all female employment.

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