BCRW Newsletter: Spring 2019

Barnard Center for Research on Women


Fall semester was BCRW’s first semester in our new space on the sixth floor of the Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning, and we’ve definitely made ourselves at home.  In addition to settling into offices, student research rooms, and work spaces for Social Justice Institute affiliates, we also inaugurated the Denise Jackson Lewis (Barnard ’66) Conference Room with an impromptu gathering to watch the heartrending testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford before the Senate Judiciary Committee in late September. As the space continues to buzz with activity– the Social Justice Institute residents are pursuing their research, activist projects, and artistic creations; the student research assistants are well-installed, supporting the SJI residents and planning their own projects and events; and many of our faculty colleagues, students, and community partners have been able to meet and collaborate on projects in the new space–we look forward to what this space can bring to our collective visions in 2019.

And speaking of 2019, the spring semester is brimming with intellectual excitement and activist engagement. We’re thrilled to be working with the Barnard College Archives and the Digital Humanities Center on our annual Scholar and Feminist Conference. This year’s topic, “The Politics and Ethics of the Archive,” will invite archivists, scholars, and cultural workers to discuss   archival questions and practices critical to marginalized communities and social justice movements. Building on these themes, we will welcome sociologist and feminist theorist Avery Gordon, author of The Hawthorn Archive, to deliver the Helen Pond McIntyre ‘48 lecture. We honor the memory of our beloved colleague Natalie Boymel Kampen with a lecture named in her honor and delivered this year by Black feminist archaeologist Whitney Battle-Baptiste. We are thrilled that volcanologist Tina Neal, scientist-in-charge of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, will deliver a timely Silver Science ‘27 lecture on the recent eruptions on the big island in Hawaii and their impact on the island, its people, and its ecology. We celebrate the latest groundbreaking work of our Columbia University colleague Saidiya Hartman in a book salon devoted to her soon-to-be published Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments. And we are thrilled to welcome Canadian activist Robyn Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present, for a transnational conversation about strategies to oppose anti-Black, gendered state violence.

As we settle into our new work home, we are grateful for the generosity of the Ansary Foundation, Denise Jackson Lewis ’66, and Fran and Eric Rosenfeld (P ’13) that helped to make our new space a reality. If you haven’t visited us yet, please stop by for a tour!

Elizabeth Castelli
Interim Director, BCRW
Professor of Religion, Barnard College


SF Conference: The Politics and Ethics of the Archive44th Annual Scholar and Feminist Conference
The Politics and Ethics of the Archive
Friday, February 8, 4 PM–8 PM and Saturday, February 9, 10 AM–6:15 PM
The Diana Center

Featuring Diana Carolina Sierra Becerra, La Vaughn Belle, Maria Cotera, Jarrett Drake, Akwaeke Emezi, Jennifer Guglielmo, Michelle Joffroy, Justin Leroy, Laura McTighe, Chinelo Okparanta, Cameron Rowland, Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, C. Riley Snorton, and more.

Plus workshops with the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College, the NYC Trans Oral History Project, Torn Apart/Separados. Exhibits featuring Librarians and Archivists for Palestine, No Selves to Defend, The Medical Industrial Complex Timeline, and The Scholar and Feminist: An Interactive Archive.

The S&F Conference will bring together archivists, librarians, artists, activists, and scholars to discuss the particular political and ethical challenges that reside in the project of creating archives for communities and social justice movements. How do we move beyond the notion of the archive as indifferent repository of textual, material, and digital materials and toward an archive of engagement? How can archival material be put to use to draw attention to muted histories and otherwise invisible networks of affiliation and connection? What difference do recent digital tools and capabilities make in the archiving and accessing of the past? How can archives empower communities to tell their own stories and offer others access to those stories without falling into the trap of appropriation? What political and ethical questions weigh most heavily on the contemporary work of the archive?

In addition to traditional keynotes and panels, the conference will feature workshops and exhibits to introduce participants to the wide array of work taking place among communities and their archivists at the current moment.

Co-sponsored by Apogee Journal, Barnard Digital Humanities Center, Barnard Library and Archives, Barnard Student Life, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality (New York University), Center for the Study of Social Difference (Columbia University), Consortium for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies (Barnard College), Department of Africana Studies (Barnard College), Department of English (Barnard College), Department of Religion (Barnard College), Department of Religion (Columbia University), Department of Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies (Barnard College), First-Year Writing (Barnard College), Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality (Columbia University), Institute for Research in African-American Studies (Columbia University), MFA Writing Program (Columbia University), Program in American Studies (Barnard College), and the Urban Studies Program (Barnard College). 


"Upward Mobility" by La Vaughn BellePanel Discussion
African Diasporic Countervisualities
Featuring La Vaughn Belle, Dixa Ramírez, and Vanessa K. Valdés, moderated by Tina Campt
Monday, February 11, 6:30 PM
Event Oval, The Diana Center

This panel challenges the overproduction of certain images of Caribbean men, women, and children that have allowed for dominant, often nationalist, narratives from the region. Instead, each speaker reveals how the subjects of the archives from which they draw exhibit their own agency in confronting those chronicles. Speaking about the Danish West Indies / the US Virgin Islands (La Vaughn Belle), the Dominican Republic (Dixa Ramírez), and the Puerto Rican community in New York (Vanessa K. Valdés), the panel will highlight inconvenient histories previously ignored, erased, silenced, ghosted.

Co-sponsored by the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Columbia University, and the Practicing Refusal Working Group, Barnard College. 


Sarah Beddington, Binocular viewer (2013). Courtesy of Hawthorn Archive.Helen Pond McIntyre ’48 Lecture
We Will Have Been Living Otherwise: Archiving in the Future Perfect Tense
Featuring Avery Gordon
Monday, February 25, 6:30 PM
James Room, Barnard Hall

We tend to think of the archive as a repository of memories, things, and documents from the past, or, as a technique that turns or arrests the present into a past. What kind of archive safeguards or keeps company with or “summons,” to use Chimurenga Library’s words, a past that the present hasn’t yet caught up with? Can such a past or such an archive be summoned to haunt the present as an alternative? These are the questions that Avery Gordon will explore in this year’s Helen Pond McIntyre ‘48 Lecture.

Image Credit: Sarah Beddington, Binocular viewer (2013). Courtesy of Hawthorn Archive


wayward lives, beautiful experimentsBook Salon
Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: A Salon in Honor of Saidiya Hartman
Featuring Saidiya Hartman, Daphne Brooks, Aimee Meredith Cox, Macarena Gomez-Barris, Alexander G. Weheliye, and Tina Campt
Monday, March 4, 6:30 PM
Event Oval, The Diana Center

Saidiya Hartman’s highly anticipated new book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (Norton, February 2019) wrestles with the question, “What is a free life?”

In the early twentieth century, young black women were in open rebellion. A social revolution unfolded in the city. Hartman’s book explores the ways young black women created forms of intimacy and kinship indifferent to the dictates of respectability, and outside the bounds of law. They cleaved to and cast off lovers, exchanged sex to subsist, and revised the meaning of marriage. Longing and desire fueled their experiments in how to live. They refused to labor like slaves or to accept degrading conditions of work. In Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Hartman narrates the story of this radical transformation of black intimate and social life, crediting young black women with shaping a cultural movement that transformed the urban landscape. Combining historical analysis and literary imagination, Hartman recovers radical aspirations and resurgent desires.

Co-sponsored by the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Columbia University.


Whitney Battle-BaptisteNatalie Boymel Kampen Memorial Lecture in Feminist Criticism and History
“Moving Mountains and Liberating Dialogues”: Creating a Black Feminist Archaeology
Featuring Whitney Battle-Baptiste
Monday, March 11, 6:30 PM
James Room, Barnard Hall

In Black Feminist Archaeology, Whitney Battle-Baptiste, describes her process of combining Black feminism and archaeology, which often appeared and were, in fact, at odds, as a process of “moving mountains and liberating dialogues.” Her book outlines the key tenets of Black feminist thought and research for archaeologists through an analysis of the material past of captive African peoples that enhances the texture and depth of conventional conceptions of these histories.

In the annual Natalie Boymel Kampen Memorial Lecture in Feminist Criticism and History, Battle-Baptiste will discuss how she approached this work, combining inquiries into her own identity and relationship to the field of archaeology, and an intersectional approach to African Diaspora archaeology through a Black feminist theoretical lens. Battle-Baptiste will discuss how these intersectional approaches are vital to improving contemporary historical archaeology, and developing it as a practice linked to broader quests for social and political justice.


hawaii volcanoRoslyn Silver ’27 Science Lecture
The Extraordinary 2018 Eruption of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii
Featuring Tina Neal
Tuesday, April 9, 6:30 PM
James Room, Barnard Hall

The talk will describe this summer’s intense volcanic unrest and eruption at one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and the highest-threat volcano in the United States, Kīlauea Volcano on the Island of Hawaii.  Historically unprecedented rates of lava effusion destroyed hundreds of structures while 40 km away at the volcano’s summit, damaging earthquakes continued for months as the summit progressively collapsed before scientist’s astonished eyes.  Neal will share highlights of the science behind the volcanic event and the complex incident response, a multi-agency effort to keep people safe.


robyn maynardConversation
Resisting Gendered State Violence Across Turtle Island: Cross-Border Solidarity Against Anti-Blackness
Featuring Robyn Maynard, author of best-selling Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present
Thursday, April 11, 6:30 PM
Held Lecture Hall, Barnard Hall 

Join us for a timely conversation with Robyn Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present (Fernwood 2017), about similarities and differences in histories, tactics, modes, and consequences of state violence targeting Black communities in the U.S., Canada and at the border, articulating critical questions and strategies for cross-border solidarity, organizing, and resistance in the current political moment.


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Registration is preferred but not required. Registration will be open through the day of the event.
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BCRW event spaces are accessible to people with mobility disabilities. Please contact BCRW for additional access needs.