At the flash of a crisis, we rush, panic, act; we pool the resources at our disposal; we stall the tide or we fight. Then we pause. Maybe we collapse from exhaustion or hesitate or question ourselves. There is a staggered intake of breath. We come to see, again, the scale of the struggle and the work ahead. We hunker down, and move forward again. In this same spirit, BCRW’s fall programs offer a range of modes and means to steadily think through and respond to the escalated violence and threats of our current political moment.
The daily work of refusing oppression includes not only protest but also study, play, creativity, and caring for self and others. We recognize signs of daily resistance in the images, songs, and words that surround us. I’m honored that BCRW has chosen to begin the semester with a salon to discuss my newest book Listening to Images, where I explore these quotidian practices of refusal captured in the photographs of Black subjects in Diaspora from the late 19th century to the 1960s.
Following this thematic thread, Combahee River Collective Mixtape: Black Feminist Sonic Dissent will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Combahee River Collective and engage the connections and reverberations of resistance between the Collective’s founding document and numerous Black artists and musicians. Continuing our exploration of historic legacies and their traces, we will host a conversation with Rosalind Rosenberg, BC Emerita Professor of History, Julia Wallace and Alexis Pauline Gumbs, BC’ 04 on the known and hidden histories of one of the Civil Rights and feminist movements’ unsung leaders, Pauli Murray.
Three of our events will center on the how and what of our resistance. We are excited to be joined by Sara Ahmed who will help us think through the institutional forces that feed complacency, and the ways and means to wake up and fight. Later in the semester two innovative convenings will highlight critical approaches to some of the most urgent threats of our contemporary political moment. “Homes for All, Cages for None: Housing Justice in an Age of Abolition” will address the evisceration of public services that puts poor people, people of color, people with disabilities and illness, and elders at risk of extreme vulnerability and premature death, and propose potential solutions that increase safety and resources for all. Finally, “Invisible No More: Resisting Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color in Troubled Times” will confront the escalation of militarized policing and racist police violence and share organizing strategies to confront these dangerous trends in our most vulnerable communities.
We are invite your continued participation in building and expanding our critical intellectual and political community, and look forward to our work together this fall.
Fall 2017 Events
Listening to Images: A Salon in Honor of Tina Campt
Featuring Rizvana Bradley, Jack Halberstam, Nicole Fleetwood, and Deborah Thomas
What happens when we shift our way of engaging with photography? When we go beyond looking at images and, instead, listen to them? Tina Campt, director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women, delves into lost archives of historically dismissed photographs to deepen our understanding of the lives of black subjects throughout the black diaspora. Campt invites us to open our ears to photographs of rural African women in the late 19th-century and 1960s mug shots of the Freedom Riders, and to hear in them the quiet intensity and quotidian practices of refusal. Originally intended to dehumanize, police, and restrict their subjects, these photographs convey the softly buzzing tension of colonialism, the low hum of resistance and subversion, and the anticipation of a boldly imagined and more just future.
‘Song in a Weary Throat’: Pauli Murray’s Life and Legacy
A conversation with Rosalind Rosenberg, Emerita Professor of History, Barnard College, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, BC’ 04 and Sangodare (Julia Roxanne Wallace); moderated by Monica L. Miller
Co-sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies and the Athena Center
Until recently Pauli Murray was an unsung figure in the Civil Rights and feminist movements. A poet, writer, activist, labor organizer, legal theorist, and Episcopal priest, Murray took on the key social and economic justice issues of her day. The subject of a new biography, Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray, by emerita professor of history Rosalind Rosenberg, Murray is now being recognized and celebrated for her legal and activist work in the service of freedom and justice, as well as her more recently recognized work fighting for the lives of people who transgressed sexual and gender norms in her lifetime. Rosenberg is joined by Alexis Pauline Gumbs BC ’04, an independent scholar and activist, and Sangodare (Julia Roxanne Wallace), a filmmaker, composer, theology scholar, and writer.
Homes for All, Cages for None: Housing Justice in an Age of Abolition
A panel featuring Craig Willse
In 2016, the Barnard Center for Research on Women assembled a Poverty Working Group to examine the state’s neglect and abandonment of poor people, people of color, and people with disabilities. The group asks how can we deepen our understanding of and resistance to the ways that the neoliberal state and racialized, classed, gendered, and ableist logics target the most vulnerable members of our communities for surveillance, control, precarious lives, and premature deaths. In the first public event in this series, scholars and activists who work on issues of housing and homelessness in New York City imagine how we can take an abolitionist approach to resistance and how we can begin to build social systems that offer safety and equal resources to all citizens. Participants include Craig Willse, author of The Value of Homelessness: Managing Surplus Life in the United States.
The Institutional as Usual: Diversity Work as Data Collection
Helen Pond McIntyre ’48 Lecture by by Sara Ahmed
This lecture explores how institutions are built from small acts of use. The institutional becomes usual. What usually happens seems to keep happening without having to be made into official policy and sometimes even despite an official policy. We learn about the institutional (as usual) from those who are trying to transform institutions. Diversity work, the work of trying to transform institutions by opening them up to populations that have hitherto been excluded, generates data on institutions, snap shots of institutional life from the point of view of those trying not to reproduce that life. In the lecture I will bring together data from my study of diversity work in universities first presented in On Being Included (2012) and developed in the middle section of Living a Feminist Life (2017) with my current research into “the uses of use” and complaint. I consider how social justice projects require making usage into a crisis.
For the 2017 Helen Pond McIntyre ’48 Lecture, Sarah Ahmed, an independent scholar and author of On Being Included and Living a Feminist Life, invites us to see how complaint and crisis can dislodge us from the complacency of habit and enable us to fight for a more just world.
Invisible No More: Resisting Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color in Troubled Times
A conference with Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Reina Gossett, Mariame Kaba, Dean Spade & others
Event Oval, The Diana Center
As the pendulum swings toward intensified immigration enforcement, discredited drug war tactics, expansion of “broken windows” policing, rampant Islamophobia, and attacks on gender, sexual and reproductive liberation, the current political climate fuels police violence against Black women and women of color on every front. In this context, women of color’s experiences of policing – often invisible in broader debates – must in turn fuel our resistance.
Join activists and scholars including Barbara Smith, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Reina Gossett, Mariame Kaba, Dean Spade, and Elle Hearns for a two day conference exploring and building on the themes, trends, and organizing strategies outlined in the recently released Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by BCRW Researcher-in-Residence Andrea J. Ritchie. Through strategic discussions, participants will not only delve into the multiple forms and contexts of police violence against women of color, but will also work to collectively identify strategies to challenge the conditions that produce them, and thus begin to radically re-envision our approaches to violence and safety.
Combahee River Collective Mixtape: Black Feminist Sonic Dissent Then and Now
With Daphne Brooks, Kara Keeling, and Jacqueline Stewart
Co-sponsored by Institute for Research on Women and Gender Studies, Columbia University and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU
Join BCRW in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Combahee River Collective Statement, the radical Black feminist manifesto completed in 1977 that laid out key tenets of intersectional theory and social justice reform. Taking the works of wide range of artists as our point of departure—from musicians such as the Knowles Sisters and Nina Simone to visual artists like Carrie Mae Weems and the L.A. Rebellion filmmakers—we aim to build a bridge from this historic document to the present and future of Black feminism. Audience participation is key, as we invite all attendees to find new directions in which music and image will allow us to carry forth the manifesto’s cogent wisdom. Cosponsored by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender Studies at Columbia University.
A Centennial Celebration of Gwendolyn Brooks
Featuring Jericho Brown, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Erica Hunt, Darryl Pinckney, and others
Presented as a part of Our Miss Brooks 100 with the Poetry Society of America and co-sponsored by Barnard Women Poets, Department of English, and the Columbia Heyman Center for the Humanities
Gwendolyn Brooks was a major American poet of the twentieth century, and a writer of great formal mastery and intimate observation. The author of twenty separate volumes of poetry, including the celebrated A Street in Bronzeville (1945), the Pulitzer Prize-winning Annie Allen (1949), and In the Mecca (1968), as well as the experimental novel Maude Martha (1953) and other volumes of prose and collected verse, Brooks is a writer who “managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young black militant writers of the 1960s” (George E. Kent). Join us to commemorate her work and legacy.
Survived and Punished: Video Series
BCRW is producing a series of videos on current campaigns supporting Black women and trans people to defend their lives and survive without being punished. These videos are made in collaboration with Mariame Kaba and Survived and Punished, a network of groups organizing defense campaigns to free criminalized survivors like Paris Knox, Ky Peterson, Bresha Meadows, Marissa Alexander, and Cherelle Baldwin, and support them upon their release. Visit our video page for more.
Save the Date: 43nd annual Scholar & Feminist Conference
Saturday, March 3, 2018
BCRW’s 43rd annual Scholar and Feminist Conference will focus on surveillance, exploring the technologies, tactics, histories, contemporary threats, and resistance in our current political moment. More information on speakers and session topics coming soon on our events page.