Five College Consortium

Five College Women's Studies Research Center

Research Associates 2016-2017




Insurgent Butterflies: Gender Struggles and Revolution in El Salvador, 1965-2015

This project rethinks the history of Salvadoran feminism via an analysis of how rank-and-file women transformed the theory and practice of leftist movements in El Salvador from 1965-2015. It analyzes new archival sources and conducts participatory workshops and over fifty oral histories in order to trace women’s organizing across three major periods: prewar (1965-1979), Civil War (1980-1992), and postwar (1992-2015). Part One discusses women’s participation within teacher and peasant organizations, the radicalization of the left, and the gendered nature of class-based demands prior to 1980. Part Two, focusing on the Civil War period, examines how peasant women and guerrilleras shaped the daily practices of armed struggle and the meaning of liberation. From these struggles, a revolutionary feminist praxis blossomed. Part Three examines the collective memories of older activist women and their efforts to transmit their political visions to a younger generation of activists. 

Diana C. Sierra Becerra is a doctoral candidate in History and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. Since 2013, she has worked as a curator and popular educator with the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (MUPI) located in San Salvador.  She has developed pedagogical materials, facilitated institutional planning, and documented the historical memory of peasant women and former combatants.



The Match of Her Life: Althea Gibson, Icon and Instrument of Integration

“The Match of Her Life: Althea Gibson, Icon and Instrument of Integration” is the first scholarly biography of the tennis pioneer. In 1957, Gibson became the first African American to win Wimbledon and the United States National Tennis Championship. The project interrogates how the State Department, black press, and black middle class used the career of this trailblazing tennis champion to depict improved domestic race relations and to tout upward mobility among black Americans. Through close analysis of Gibson’s meteoric rise from poverty to heroic status among black Americans after World War II and examination of her precipitous fall from reverence with the onset of the civil rights movement, “The Match of Her Life” charts the evolution of discourses about the responsibilities of athletes and women in the long black freedom struggle and the Cold War.

Ashley Brown is a candidate for the Ph.D. in American Studies at George Washington University. She earned her B.A. in the same field at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. She is an interdisciplinary cultural historian of ethnicity and sport in the twentieth century. Her work explores how gender, race, and sexuality facilitate and impede athletes’ abilities to traverse and transgress borders. Brown was awarded the 2015 Graduate Student Essay Prize from the North American Society for Sport History (NASSH). Her article, “Swinging for the State Department: American Women Tennis Players in Diplomatic Goodwill Tours, 1941-1959,” was published in the fall 2015 issue of the Journal of Sport History. 



"Let's Take the Damn Kids to Their School": Boston's Black Mothers and the Desegregation Movement, 1920-1975          

Since the 1980s, narratives surrounding the Boston Busing Crisis focus on South Boston white working-class’s reaction to Judge Arthur W. Garrity's forced desegregation order of 1974. Yet, by analyzing the crises from such narrow perspective, the narratives leave out half of the story. My research challenges these narratives by situating the busing crisis as the culmination of more than half a century of grassroots activism led by Black working-class mothers. By taking action at the neighborhood and the city levels, these mothers succeeded where the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People and the Urban League had failed. This study is the first one to analyze the role of these “ordinary mothers,” who, through their actions and influence, transformed the civil rights leadership in Boston between the 1920s and the mid-1970s.

Julie de Chantal is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She earned her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in History from the Université de Montréal, in Montréal, Canada. Julie’s dissertation, entitled ““If There Are Men who Are Afraid to Die, There Are Women who Are NOT: African American Women’s Civil Rights Leadership in Boston, 1920-1975,” analyzes the role of Black women in Boston’s civil rights movement from the 1920s to the Busing Crisis in 1974. Her doctoral research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the History department, and the Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts. She defended her dissertation in March 2016.          

Julie has presented her work at several conferences in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. She has presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, the Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women among others. In 2013, she received the Joyce A. Berkman Endowed Fund in Women’s History and Women’s Studies Award. In 2015, she earned the Ermonian Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching.     



Positioning Women Peasants, Artisans and Traders in the New Global Economy

This research proposes to investigate the positioning of women peasants, traders and artisans in the global economy in the modernization and neoliberal eras. Positioning women peasants, artisans and traders in the global economy entails forcing them to embrace the culture of money and self-regulating markets. Three questions will be answered: Why have women peasants, artisans and traders survived into the 21st Century Africa despite the efforts to incorporate them in the global economy?  What is the role of their agency, resilience and insurgency in positioning them in the global economy?  What are the outcome of women peasants’ artisans’ and traders’ agency, resilience and insurgency in production and exchange, wellbeing and wealth in their positioning in the global economy? The research is based on case studies of women peasant, artisans and traders drawn from different parts of the country including Kiambu, Machakos, Nairobi, Baringo, Elgeyo Markwet, Kisumu, Kisii, Madera and Kirinyaga.

Mary Njeri Kinyanjui is a mother, writer, researcher, teacher, community organizer volunteer and a firm believer in social economic justice and self reliance. She is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi. She researches on economic informality, grassroots and indigenous institutions in the organization of economic behavior, small business, peasant organizations, gender and trade justice. Some of her publications include: "2013 Women Informal Garment Traders in Taveta Road’ Nairobi: From the Margins to the Centre" (African Studies Review 56 (3) 147-165, 2013) and Institutions of Hope: Ordinary People’s Market Coordination and Society Organization Alternatives (Nairobi: Nsemia Publishers, 2012). She has recently published the books Women and Economic Informality in Africa: From the Margins to the Centre (Zed Books, 2014) and Coffee Time (Laanga Press, 2015).



An Ambivalent Belonging: Germans Documenting the Namibian Children from the GDR

In 1990, 428 Namibian children were returned to Namibia after 11 years of exile and education in socialist East Germany (GDR). Their asylum was an extension of the GDR’s international solidarity efforts with emerging socialist nations. Their return was the result of two nearly simultaneous world events: the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent German reunification; and the end of the Namibian War of Independence from South African colonial rule and apartheid, followed by Namibia’s first democratic elections and official independence. Subsequently, there has been an ongoing cinematic interest in their stories, resulting in eight documentaries by German filmmakers, funded largely by German institutions, and targeted at German-speaking audiences.

This project examines how the retelling of the childrens’ exile and return functions as an appropriation of their personal histories as they intersect with multiple layers of German and Namibian history. It examine an ongoing tendency in the sources to repeatedly discuss themes of historical violence, exile and return around child victimization, especially as they are used to revisit problematic national histories of culpability and innocence. Likewise, the project looks at the memoirs by two of the women who grew up in the GDR, which explore experiences that the visual sources only begin to touch on: the gendered dimensions of exile and return. The young repatriates arrived as outsiders speaking a European language of privilege and they had been socialized and educated in Europe to become model “socialist personalities” and therefore the leaders of a future socialist Namibia that did not come to be. The “children’s” ambivalent belonging as Black Namibians, German socialists, child refugees and repatriates, as well as gendered individuals in both the East German and Namibian contexts provide an ambivalent mediation of Germany’s recently divided past within the context of the global Cold War and its colonial past in German South-West Africa, present-day Namibia.

Victoria Rizo Lenshyn is a PhD candidate in German and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she also received graduate certificates in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and in Film Studies. During the 2015-2016 academic year, she was a Research Associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, where she completed her dissertation examining aspects of gender and cinema in former socialist East Germany, entitled Bridging Contradictions: Socialist Actresses and Star Culture in the GDR. In her research she examines global cinema through the lens of the Cold War, with a specific focus on the cinema of former East Germany (DEFA Studios). Recent and forthcoming publications include a co-authored article offering a transnational study of the East German and Vietnamese co-production, Time in the Jungle (1987); a co-authored article re-evaluating DEFA as a national cinema, especially in light of ongoing research initiatives working with the DEFA archive; and a co-edited volume on East German film and the socialist and non-aligned world.



Letters, Photographs, and Artifacts from Uncommon Women in the Nineteenth and Early 20th Centuries

This project involves working with the archival materials at Mount Holyoke College related to the alumnae who traveled as missionaries to the Near East during from 1843-1920. Most fascinating are the understandings they had of what they would find when they arrived and how they saw themselves helping native populations, whether through redemptive conversion, education, improvements to domestic standards, the social status of women, entrepreneurial activities, or health care. In any case, they took the position of enlightened moderns treating primitive and backward folks still in a form of the Dark Ages. This distinction, between modern and medieval, is a trope that has served many political agendas and this project studies its application in this particular forum where even religion was addressed. To this end, this project begins with the documentary and biographical material for Fidelia Fiske, MHC's first missionary, in order to deconstruct the hagiography that was shaped for her and investigate her work in Urmiyah, Persia that was deemed so successful by the Missionary Board. 

Janet T. Marquardt holds the rank of Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Eastern Illinois University. She is author of Objects of Personal Significance (1998); From Martyr to Monument: The Abbey of Cluny as Cultural Patrimony (2007) and Zodiaque: Making Medieval Modern 1951-2001 (2015); editor of Françoise Henry: The Inishkea Journals(2012); co-author of Frames of Reference: Art, History, and the World (2004); and co-editor of Medieval Art after the Middle Ages (2009) as well as numerous articles in French and English. Marquardt was awarded an NEH senior fellowship 2002-2003, was a Visiting Professor at the CESCM (University of Poitiers) in 2006, and a Humanities Fellow at Trinity College Dublin in 2011. 



Minor Subjects in America: Everyday Childhoods of the Long Nineteenth Century

This project calls attention to representations of children and representations crafted for children through a multi-genre archive of children’s literature, Native American autobiographies, and advice literatures. It will investigate where and how children and childhood are political spaces where critical engagement in the family, women’s citizenship, and Indian law all resonate powerfully. Specifically, it calls attention to the significant alignment of child welfare and domestic abuse legislation. This will begin with the Indian Child Welfare Act (1978) and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (2013). This legal context will situate the complexities of settler colonial family structures, recognizing how normative forms of intimacy and attachment are constructed by legal narratives and policed by the State. Reading authors such as Lydia Sigourney, Betsey Chamberlain, and Ann Plato within this framework pulls to the surface the violences, the silences, and the powerful ways in which people survive by way of recreating and reimagining the potentiality of childhood. 

Gina Ocasion holds a Ph.D. in English with a concentration in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She teaches and writes at the intersections of childhood studies, women’s studies, legal studies, and popular culture. Her research focuses on popular children’s culture and the diverse texts shaping American and Native American literary and legal representation. She has presented pieces of this work at the American Studies Association's annual conferences and as a fellow at the Futures of American Studies Institute at Dartmouth College. 



Imperialist Struggles Over the Amazon: Gender, Native Peoples and Visual Culture

Inspired by an archival photography collection (circa 1930s-50s) found in Leticia, Colombia, this project examines the positioning of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples to show the racialized framework used in colonizing the border region and incorporating the Amazonian frontier into the nation.  Or, in Mary Louise Pratt’s words, the photographs show the “contact zone” or the space of imperial encounters where peoples encounter one another and forge relations, “usually involving conditions of coercion, radical inequality and intractable conflict.”  The photograph collection content reflects the carnage following one of the most notorious affairs in international human rights cases related to the production of rubber in the Amazon and territorial conflicts over the region.  Official treaties ceded the Leticia trapezoid to Colombia from Peru in 1922.  Peruvians attempted to recapture the territory in 1932, turning into a violent eight-month international war between Peru and Colombia known as the Leticia Dispute. Since Brazil shared a border, the Brazilian government mediated the conflict after the fighting ended. To end the war, the League of Nations intervened for the first time ever in an international dispute, and served as the interim government over the territory while Colombia and Peru negotiated a treaty. This project plans to further develop a gendered analysis of the war, examining the descriptions of the imperialist motives of the countries involved and soldiers’ descriptions of nature and war in what many called the “green hell.” 

Sarah Sarzynski is currently an Assistant Professor of Latin American History at Claremont McKenna College. Her research and teaching interests include modern Brazilian history, popular culture and film, the Cold War, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, the Amazon, and Brazilian regionalism. Before coming to CMC, Sarsynski was an Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University where she co-organized an international symposium, "Feminist Constellations: Intercultural Paradigms in the Americas" in 2013 bringing together feminist activists and scholars to engage in a dialogue about democracy and economic, cultural and racial justice. She also taught Latin American Studies at Mount Holyoke College for two years after receiving her PhD in History from the University of Maryland in 2009.



On Freedom and Sovereignty: Thinking with Hannah Arendt and Simone de Beauvoir

This project aims to develop a feminist theory of freedom. The concept of freedom has been somewhat neglected by feminist theory in favor of equality, difference, sex/gender, and identity. Appropriating Arendt’s and Beauvoir’s ethical-political vocabularies, it makes the case that freedom should be understood not as a metaphysical property or an abstract right, but as a plural, non-instrumental, and experience-based project.

Engaging with Arendt and Beauvoir to complement and critique each other’s perspectives and to ‘bring freedom back in’ to political theory and feminist political theory, this project shows that Arendt’s and Beauvoir’s main intellectual and political commitment was dismantling and deconstructing the traditional conception of freedom as synonymous with sovereignty. While Arendt provides important insights for analyzing the institutional dimensions of freedom and political forms of organization that are lacking in Beauvoir, she does not address the embodied, subjective, intersubjective, social, and material conditions by which an individual becomes (or fails to become) a political subject. As a result, Arendt does not register, as Beauvoir does, the intimate and political significance of factors such as gender, race, and class for the project of freedom.

Verónica Zebadúa Yáñez is a PhD candidate in politics at the New School for Social Research, New York City. Her areas of specialization are contemporary political theory, feminist theory, and feminist philosophy. She has competence in gender policy and gender justice. Parallel to her graduate studies, she worked at the United Nations system for more than seven years—most recently at the UN entity for gender equality (UN Women)—as a women’s rights and gender-based violence specialist.

FALL 2015

RACHEL BROWN                         


The Emotional Politics of Migration: Migrant Domestic Work in Israel/Palestine

This project explores the daily experiences of migrant domestic workers from the Philippines, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. Basing analyses on field research in Israel/Palestine, it will illustrate how the domestic worker/employer relationship is shaped by the transnational gendered, sexualized and racialized division of household labor. It will also examine the influence of racially hierarchical citizenship law and legal exceptionalism on the strategies migrants employ to negotiate for their rights. It treats Israel/Palestine as a case study for rethinking transnational feminist solidarity and the politics of resistance among migrants in a state shaped by a de jure racially hierarchical citizenship regime. 

Rachel Brown is a doctoral candidate in the Political Science Program at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her work lies in the sub-fields of political theory and feminist theory, and her specialization is migration, citizenship and domestic work. Rachel has taught in the Political Science Department at Brooklyn College for the last three years, and has worked as a Writing Fellow, incorporating writing pedagogy into course curricula at CUNY. Outside of the classroom she organizes events with CUNY’s Social and Political Theory Student Association (SPTSA) and co-hosts the Always Already Podcast, a critical theory radio show. She has also recently published her first collection of poems, Atop the Staircase.



Peasant Embodiments: Food, Environment, and Politics in the Colombian Andes

This research examines peasant use of agrobiodiversity for food diversity in two communities in the Andean region with different productive histories and forms of insertion into the national market economy. It addresses the cultural, environmental, political dimensions of farmer´s food practices in light of national agricultural and nutrition policies during the 20th century in Colombia. Central to this inquiry are processes of embodiment and disembodiment resulting from tensions between long standing food structures, modernization agendas, and cultural improvement schemes. It does so by exploring women´s agricultural and kitchen work, as well as their perceptions of body and health. The analysis stands at the intersection of political economy/ecology, anthropology of food and body, peasant and gender studies. 

Juana Camacho is a Colombian anthropologist, currently working at the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History as a researcher and editor of the Revista Colombiana de Antropología. Her interests lie in the intersections of nature, culture, gender, and power as expressed in food ideas, practices, and policies. She has worked with afrodescendants in the Pacific coast and Andean peasants in Colombia. Her current research explores agrifood systems, health, public goods, and various forms of dispossession in the Colombian Caribbean.  

ALIX OLSON                      


Resilient Conscripts: Resistance Under Neoliberalism 

Resilience - or the capacity to persist in precarious times- has been long a maxim of social justice activisms: from ACT UP’s (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) politicization of survival to the more recent #Black Lives Matter Movement which roots itself in “a long and rich history of resistance and resilience” (BLM, 2016). In the past decade, resilience has also emerged within state and global institutions as a key political concept and strategy for adapting to a world marked by unprecedented danger: global warming, terror threats, migration crises and innumerable areas of violence and un-governability. Resilience now figures prominently in state and popular discourses from U.S. Army training campaigns, the Department of Homeland Security strategies and United Nations refugee-displacement plans to downloadable “resilient citizen kits,” the cover of Psychology Today, and the backs of cereal boxes. While leading government officials hail resilience as the nation’s new “immune system” (Allen, 2010), critics suspicious of this emerging panacea issue the call to “resist resilience” (Evans and Reid, 2011; Neocleous, 2013; Joseph, 2014). Troubled by this dichotomy, this project considers how the resonances of resilience discourses with neoliberal governance and radical political action resist familiar accounts of the world in ways that may offer us a new set of questions and strategies for thinking about political struggle today.

Alix Olson is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who holds a Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies. Her research interests include contemporary political theory, feminist and queer studies, the politics of protest and art and activism. Alix has published peer-reviewed work in New Political Science, Wagadu: A Journal of Transnational Women's and Gender Studies and in Agitation With a Smile: Howard Zinn's Legacies and the Future of Activism. Alix has been the recipient of the Christian Bay Award (NPS), a Center for Research on Families Fellowship (UMass) and the Distinguished Teaching Award (UMass). Alix is also a nationally and internationally touring spoken word artist who has published award-winning spoken word albums and poetry books, produced the award-winning documentary Left Lane and edited the anthology Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution. For this work, Alix has received a Barbara Deming Fellowship.



Fitness and Health in Times of Demographic Change: Intersectional Analysis of the "Self-Techniques" of Older Women - A Comparison of Germany and the U.S. 

As a result of an ever-ageing society, health has become relevant and crucial capital. Being healthy is no longer seen as something dependent on destiny, but as something which is put in one’s own responsibility. This is also true for elderly people and especially true for women, who, due to the difference in life expectancy, tend to take care of their partners and afterwards spend their advanced years alone, to a large extent. In order to spend the additional years in the best of health, the urgent appeal for suitable actions prompts physical activities in the sense of working on one’s ‘self’. It would appear that through working on your body – as pointed out by media, fitness magazines and advertisement of fitness centers – health, ‘successful aging’ and, above all, a long life are guaranteed. On the one hand, this describes a constraint of normalization and appreciation, on the other hand a closer look needs to be taken at the subjectified self-forming during more or less creative and/or resistive practices. The fundamental question is: With which forms of body shaping, do the older women transform these demands into their own subjective practice of self-forming and self-guidance? The aim of an intersectional analysis is to examine biographical interdependancies of self-techniques, milieu, age and gender.

Gabriele Sobiech is a professor for sociology of sport and gender studies at the University of Education in Freiburg, Germany. Her main emphasis in teaching and researching are: sociology of the body and sport, heterogeneity in unequal social circumstances, body-, movement- and space-acquisition. Gabriele Sobiech is a speaker of the committee of Gender-Research in the German Organization of Sport Science (dvs) and the German delegate of the International Association of Physical Education and Sport for Girls and Women (IAPESGW). Her upcoming book, “Sport & Gender”, in cooperation with her colleague Sandra Günter, will be published in summer 2016.




The Queer Sexual Citizen: Exploring Same Gender Attracted Young Women's Sexual Health in Tasmania

This research seeks to explore how queer young women navigate intersectional identity politics, sexual citizenship and health in a neoliberal postfeminist climate. The central aim of the project is to examine queer young women’s understandings and experiences of gender, sexuality and sexual health in Tasmania, Australia. Despite popular perceptions that lesbian, bisexual and queer women are a low risk group when it comes to sexual health, there is evidence to suggest that, due to combined experiences of sexism and homophobia, queer women experience sexuality and gender specific sexual health issues. However, there is a dearth of Australian feminist sociological literature around queer young women’s experiences and understandings of ‘safe sex’ and sexual health. Current Australian sociological research on sexual health is predominantly quantitative and tends to focus on heterosexuals’ and gay men’s experiences (e.g. condom use and negotiation, sexually transmissible infections, unplanned pregnancy and sex education). By allowing queer young women’s experiences, needs and concerns to ‘speak’ through this research, the project aims to collect evidence to inform the ongoing improvement of social supports, public policy, education and health service provision in Tasmania and beyond. 

Ruby Grant is a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Her research interests include feminist sociology of the body, gender, sexuality, lesbian studies and queer theory.  Her current doctoral research seeks to explore queer women’s embodied experiences of gender, sexuality and sexual health in Tasmania. 


EDITOR IN CHIEF                                                                                       WOMEN'S ENEWS

Jane Crow/Jane Doe: How Racist Perceptions of Single Mothers Are Leverage to Reduce Support for All Single Mothers

This project intends to demonstrate how racist stereotypes about women of African descent living in the United States is exploited to gain popular support for harsh legal and public policy that has negative impacts on all U.S. women. It will focus on federal support of single parents and the news media images and characterizations of those families needing assistance. This research will focus on the political climate of Wisconsin in the early 1990s, when Gov. Tommy Thompson initiated a package of laws governing the eligibility, work requirements and time limits for those receiving what is essentially government-paid child support. Current studies indicate that the changes that began in Wisconsin and quickly adopted on the federal level are more than partially responsible for the growing inequality in the United States. An important element of this story is the rise of the movements for higher minimum wages and other improvements.

Rita Henley Jensen is founder of Women's eNews, a daily nonprofit news service based in New York City that covers issues of a particular concern to women and girls. A former senior writer for the National Law Journal and columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, Henley Jensen has more than 35 years of experience in journalism and an armload of awards, including the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Alumni award, the Hunter College Presidential Grant for Innovative Uses of Technology in Teaching, the Alicia Patterson fellowship and the Lloyd P. Burns Public Service prize. Women’s eNews has won more than 40 journalism awards, including the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. Henley Jensen is a survivor of domestic violence who earned degrees from Ohio State University and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She is the grandmother of four; two granddaughters and two grandsons.



Female Pioneers of 20th Century Anthropology

In the period after World War I, New York City was a haven for smart young women seeking to broaden their professional opportunities. At Columbia University, Franz Boas, considered the father of 20th century American anthropology, modernized the profession by rejecting 19th century evolutionary anthropology and training a new generation of scholars. A group of his female protégés are the subject of the proposed project, which is intended to be a feature-length film: they include Elsie Clews Parsons, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and Zora Neale Hurston. 

While she is known today primarily for her novels, plays and short fiction, Hurston combined literature and anthropology in several of her nonfiction works. Similarly, Benedict was an accomplished poet, deeply influenced by literary modernism of the 1920s. Scholar Hilary Lapsley notes that Benedict was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s modernist masterpiece The Waves (1928) in crafting her career-defining work Patterns of Culture (1934). Similarly, Mead was influenced by her Barnard friend Léonie Adams and her circle of feminist poets; Mead also wrote poetry, but not at the quasi-professional level of Benedict and their colleague Edward Sapir. The project looks at the lives and work of these female “Boasnians” and the relationship between the literary and artistic modernism of the period, feminism, liberalizing attitudes about race, and their work in anthropology. 

Nancy Kates produced and directed Regarding Susan Sontag, which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and on HBO, to significant critical acclaim. Ms. Magazine named it one of 2014’s top ten feminist films. It has since been shown in over 100 festivals in more than 35 countries, receiving a number of awards, including the FOCAL International Award for the best use of archival footage in an arts program. Kates' earlier film, Brother Outsider: the Life of Bayard Rustin, made with Bennett Singer, premiered in competition at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and as a special of the PBS series “POV.” It went on to win more than 25 awards worldwide, including the 2004 GLAAD Media Award. Kates received her M.A. from Stanford’s documentary film program. Her master’s thesis, Their Own Vietnam, received the 1995 Student Academy Award in documentary. In 2014, Kates was honored to be included in the OUT 100, OUT Magazine’s annual list of the most intriguing LGBT Americans.


PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY                                                   CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY

Missionary Moderns: Protestant Women and Science in the Era of American Internationalism 

This book project focuses on American women missionary teachers who served as agents of global change at key foreign institutions of higher education between 1840 and 1940.  They exported science and scientific culture, adapting this knowledge and the religious values agenda that framed it to a variety of radically different cultures and shifting political circumstances during a period of western imperialism and modernizing revolutions in Africa, China, and India, In the process, these women and their institutions came to define an agenda for science education that emphasized the individual rights of women, women’s health, and social and economic welfare in contradistinction to the materialistic attractions science held for foreign governments. The study focuses on a group of signal schools for women, each with important ties to influential U.S. colleges and universities (Mount Holyoke, Smith, Wellesley colleges, and Yale and Harvard universities) and with American Protestant missionary boards (including the Women’s Board of Missions [WBM] and the powerful American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions [ABCFM]).  The institutions were founded in four regions where American missionary work was strong: two in South Africa, three in China, two in India, two in the Ottoman Empire, and two in Japan.  Each institution allows for a different perspective on the history of missionary science education in distinctive geographic locales, political, cultural and religious circumstances that shaped modernization and women’s place in it in each of these regions of the world.

Miriam Levin received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Art History from the University of Michigan. In 1980 the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, awarded her a doctorate in History. Since then she has worked in a variety of academically related positions, including program officer at the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, and since 1989 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where she received tenure in 1996. She was recently appointed the Bourne Professor at CWRU. As the author of many books and articles (including Defining Women’s Scientific Enterprise: Mount Holyoke Faculty and the Rise of American Science), her research, publishing, teaching and related activities are devoted to critically examining how technology and science were integrated into modern society. Her major focus is on built environments, international expositions, museums in the United States and France, and on women’s colleges and foreign missionary colleges during the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to scholarly production, her publications and lectures include those directed at educating more popular audiences in this country and abroad about the forces of scientific and technological change.



From People's Health to "Healthism"? New Femininities and Masculinities in Health and FItness from 1970

During the last decades of the 1900’s, the phenomena of running and exercising at gyms transformed physical culture from a previous public health regimen in close cooperation with the sport movement. A highly commercialised health market has emerged, and new products, diets and trends appear constantly. An ideology of “healthism” has been identified as salient to neoliberal late modern society, where health and a fit body are important lifestyle markers and metaphors for the good life (Crawford 1980; Petersen & Lupton 1996). What liberations and what new forms of regulation can be identified in the urgings, problems and solutions formulated around health? How does the body emerge as means or goal, and what relations are constructed between the individual and her contexts?

This project explores the changing discourses on health through a text and image analysis of Swedish health and fitness magazines from 1970 to the present. This includes historically new gender ideals – the well-trained female body and the appearance-oriented man – closely associated with diet and exercise practices. The project engages in the feminist debate on how to understand the “fit” woman as a cultural ideal – a norm-breaking emancipatory figure, or rather a post-feminist celebration of the strong individual? (Bordo 1993; Dworkin & Wachs 2009; McRobbie 2009).

Helena Tolvhed is a researcher at the Department of History, Stockholm University. Her research interests are cultural and gender history in the 20th century, and have centered on sport and health as empirical fields. The doctoral thesis was a discourse analysis of Swedish popular press media from the Olympic Games 1948-1972, focusing aspects of gender, nation and global politics. The book På damsidan (2015, English: On the Ladie’s Side: Femininity, Agency and Power in Swedish Sport 1920-1990) examines sport as a historical arena for subordination and struggle, but also community, pleasure and emancipation for women. It contains part-studies on different sports context in Sweden during the 20th century, using archive material, oral history and press material.