The Center initiates and supports collaborative projects dedicated to engaged, critical feminist scholarship from diverse perspectives. With an emphasis on emerging fields in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies in all disciplines, the Center also provides a forum in which faculty and graduate students in the Five Colleges, visiting scholars at all ranks from around the world, and partner organizations can present their work. Annual thematic foci provide a framework for partnerships, short-term and long-term residencies and symposia.
The Summer 2020 FCWSRC Newsletter is now available.
July 22, 2020
Dear FC Feminist Communities,
I write to you as the new director of the FCWSRC, grateful for the connections, relationships, and possibilities the Center has nurtured for three decades and profoundly aware of what it can mean to have access to spaces where our struggles to work within and transform our institutions become intimately and locally collective. Relationships matter. The privatization of wealth and care wrought by settler sexuality often leaves us isolated and under-resourced. Around the proverbial table, sharing what we can, we are wiser and more powerful. What can happen at the Center’s big, old table is the reason I stepped up to direct. It has been a place to slow down, think together, check each other, organize, strategize, argue, hold space, and imagine accountability. A reprieve from insisting that there is work to do, and a chance to get down to it. I believe in feminism as a site of struggle and feminist scholarship as a critical-creative project of undoing and/as worldmaking. When feminists make space to fight with and for one another, we are building things.
The contributions of Black feminist theorizing to the movement to defund the police and reallocate those resources, for example, highlights the importance of how we narrativize. If all research is storytelling and we are a community of researchers and we know the stakes of how we story our worlds are often literally life and death, we have work to keep doing. Not only our individual work, but the citational, pedagogical, and always political work of advancing the insights of transformational scholarship. This often means challenging narratives that make certain outcomes seem inevitable and others unrealistic within our institutions.
If you are reading this letter, you likely already know that the FCWSRC has been defunded for the 2020-2021 academic year. Moments of financial crisis in higher education are of course ripe for pushing through institutional decisions that impact marginalized scholarship and scholars, staff, and students and would in other moments be indefensible. Many feminist and other critical activist-scholars have pointed out that the crisis of Covid-19, the pretense for closing the center, is more than biological. The scale of this crisis and its unequal distribution of harms - especially in the US - is the result of gendered racial capitalism and the eugenic logics that undergird the differential valuation of lives in this country. Rather than ceding that the damage of a crisis largely created by anti-feminist, racist, capitalist decision making can be mitigated by more of the same, we are called now to insist on fundamentally rethinking the priorities of our societies and, from our vantage point in the academy, our colleges and universities. The spaces we have created over decades for the critical work of making sense of where we are and imagining otherwise are being gutted of resources and their stewards asked to participate in the violence of pretending that we’re all in this together.
Whatever measures we take in a given instance, we must make strange the administrative narrative that would have us continue to pretend that crises in the fiscal sustainability of higher education can be addressed through austerity measures that defund programs, centers, and services we need. Critical university studies have provided us ample resources to understand the bloated administrative budgets the labor of staff and faculty and debt of students supports. This is not a time to “come together” and accept the stripping away of hard-won resources in the interest of a “greater good” that has never included those most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in our institutions. To say that we stand in solidarity with those protesting structural racism and the ongoing history of anti-Black structural violence in the US while quietly accepting a narrative that naturalizes the dismantling of infrastructures that support activist scholarship at our institutions is unconscionable. Feminist research has taught us better.
The Five College area is an historic hub for feminist research and activism and has played its part over decades in helping define both beyond our local community. The stakes of defining feminist work as transformational and actively challenging its cooptation as handmaiden to liberalism and white supremacy are high. Over the month since I received the news of the Center’s defunding, I have been in conversations about how to proceed with previous directors, faculty representatives on the steering committee, and other comrades and mentors in the Valley who share this conviction. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you, fellow feminists, that the question of whether and how to respond and program this year is a site of contest, without simple sides or easy answers. Context is everything, and the context in which we find ourselves is one of largely unprecedented challenges and possibilities. As we grapple with anger, disappointment, and concerns about the nature of the Center’s ongoing relationship to the consortium, it is clear that insofar as the FCWSRC is the networks we’ve been building to support the reworlding work of feminist research, the center is far from closed.
I hope you’ll join us at the virtual table for our first town hall meeting on September 11th at 4pm.
The first FCWSRC town hall meeting will be held on September 11, 2020, from 4 to 7pm on Zoom. The meeting will officially begin at 4:30pm and wrap up at 6:30pm, giving participants a half hour to socialize and reconnect before and after the meeting. For information and registration, visit the event page.
Five College Women’s Studies Research Center on Hiatus 2020-21
On June 16, 2020, Five Colleges, Inc. informed the incoming and outgoing directors of the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center (FCWSRC) that the Center would lose its funding for AY 2020-21. Five Colleges, Inc. made this decision without consultation with the Center’s leadership and, although they finalized the decision weeks earlier, they did not notify the Center until the end of the fiscal year.
It is our hope and commitment - as director, staff, and campus representatives on the steering committee - to do our utmost to sustain the community that FCWSRC has fostered for almost three decades, even now. In the spirit of making the time to think together and supporting one another in our work - activist, care, and academic - we will hold virtual town hall meetings in 2020-21. Especially now, we invite our feminist communities to come together to discuss the Center’s future, the work we are all doing to support Black lives at and beyond our institutions, the 2020 election, and mutual aid projects projects addressing critical care work and feminist strategies for survival in this moment of precarity and possibility.
Instead of our annual welcome reception, we will hold our first town hall meeting on Friday September 11, 4-7pm, on Zoom. The meeting will officially be called to order at 4:30pm and wrap up at 6:30pm, so that we have a half hour to socialize and reconnect before and after the meeting. To attend the September 11 virtual town meeting, click on registration.
In the meantime, please direct questions to the current director, Angie Willey, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, all public events at the FCWSRC have been cancelled for the academic year 2020-21, including the write-on-site sessions.
The application period for the 2020-2021 Research Associate program is closed.
Kiran Asher, Former Research Associate, and Priti Ramamurthy publish a new article in Hypatia: "Rethinking Decolonial and Postcolonial Knowledges beyond Regions to Imagine Transnational Solidarity"
FCWSRC Associate Patricia Montoya's new independent film Cuando La Rumorosa Calla will be shown online at AVIFF Cannes Art Film Festival. https://art-film-festival.com/official-selection-aviff-cannes-art-film-festival-2020/
Congrats to FCWSRC Associate Frances Davey for her promotion to Associate Professor of History!
This spring, FCWSRC Associate Korka Sall successfully defended her dissertation, Negritude Feminisms: Francophone Black Women Writers and Activists in France, Martinique and Senegal from the 1920s to 1980s.
Gina Mara Aranda reads Coffee Time written by FCWSRC Research Associate Mary Njeri Kinyanjui.