March 1-2, 2013
Scholar and Feminist Conference
The Diana Center

Utopia conference image



Participant Twitter Handles


“I write because life does not appease my appetites and hunger. I write to record what others erase when I speak, to rewrite the stories others have miswritten about me, about you.”
—Gloria Anzaldúa, “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers”

“It was part of women’s long revolution. When we were breaking all the old hierarchies.”
—Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time

“We are impossible people… We’re being told that we’re politically unviable and impossible, we’re told that constantly, and yet I think there’s a space of possibility that exists in part because we are not yet included or recognized.”
—Dean Spade, “Trans Politics on a Neoliberal Landscape”

Utopia challenges us to imagine the impossible. Feminists have for years spoken of dreams, of excess, of revolution. Creating a space outside of what society makes available can be an act of survival in a culture that selectively grants and withholds the designation of full humanity. While many have shied away from the term “utopia,” wary of its uses as a cover for eugenics and other distinctly dystopian endeavors, this year’s Scholar & Feminist Conference argues that there is a consistent power that comes from confronting our desire–our “appetites and hunger”–for “spaces of possibility,” making “women’s long revolution… breaking all the old hierarchies.”

In concert with this theme, the conference format this year focuses on participation and collaboration. We’ll kick off the weekend with a screening of Wu Tsang and Roya Rastegar’s film Wildness, a magical and explosive exploration of “safe space,” queer community, creativity, and class, followed by a conversation with the filmmakers. In Saturday’s workshops, community leaders from a wide range of fields facilitate opportunities for creativity and organizing through discussion and brainstorming. Workshop topics include:

  • community design
  • coalition & justice
  • remix culture
  • open education
  • feminist parenting
  • sci-fi/fantasy
  • prison abolition ending poverty
  • desiring change
  • climate change
  • food justice
  • intentional housing

Plenary presentations will be collaboratively produced and will intertwine academic, activist and artistic work and presentation-styles. Shaowen Bardzell, a pioneer in the field of feminist Human Computer Interaction, pairs with visual artist Youngsuk Altieri to present a feminist vision for the future of our lived environment. Pam McMichael of the Highlander Center teams up with social justice printmaker Melanie Cervantes of Dignidad Rebelde to show us what coalitional organizing could be at its best. And Marisa Rius, Director of the Program of Gender Studies of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, comes together with director and performer Jennifer Miller of Circus Amok! to explore feminist and queer pedagogies.

Participants include: Youngsuk Altieri, Indiana University, Human Computer Interaction-Design; Shaowen Bardzell, Indiana University School of Informatics & Computing; Melanie Cervantes, Dignidad Rebelde; Pam McMichael, The Highlander Center; Jennifer Miller, Circus Amok!; Marisa Belausteguigoitia Rius, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; Wu Tsang, Filmmaker; Gwendolyn Beetham, Independent Scholar; K. Tempest Bradford, Writer; Francesca Coppa, Organization of Transformative Works; Design for America, Barnard College Chapter; Reina Gossett, Writer and activist; Amber Hollibaugh, Queers for Economic Justice; Valery Jean, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality; Ileana Jiménez, FeministTeacher.com; Simone Kolysh, CUNY Graduate Center; Elisa Kreisinger, PopCulturePirate.com; Victoria Law, Writer; Rickke Mananzala, Activist; Pamela Phillips, Barnard Center for Research on Women; Kavitha Rao, The Common Fire Foundation; Roya Rastegar, Bryn Mawr College; Dean Spade, Seattle University School of Law …and more!

And at the end of the day, we’ll gather for a reception and party. Barnard students will provide a “utopian” playlist as soundtrack. Join us to offer your thoughts and energies too.

This event is open to the public. Registration is required; there is a sliding scale fee – no one will be turned away due to lack of funds.

Scholarships: A small number of $40 scholarships are available to defray costs associated with attending the conference. Email ajonas@barnard.edu for more information.

Venue is wheelchair accessible.


Download the complete program (PDF).

Friday, March 1

6:30 PM – Event Oval, The Diana Center

Opening night film screening and discussion with Wu Tsang, director and screenwriter and Roya Rastegar, screenwriter.
Set in the historic Silver Platter, a Los Angeles bar that has been a home for Latin/LBGT immigrant communities since 1963, Wildness follows what happens when a group of young artists create a weekly performance art/dance party called Wildness, which explodes into creativity and conflict

Saturday, March 2

9:00 – 10:00 AM – Ground Floor Lobby, The Diana Center

10:00 – 10:30 AM
Opening Remarks

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Morning Keynotes

  • Building Utopia: Stitching the Lessons from Stories and Visions of Women in our Lives
    Pam McMichael, Highlander Research and Education Center and Melanie Cervantes, Dignidad Rebelde

  • Utopian Design? Feminism and Critical Design
    Shaowen Bardzell, Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing and Youngsuk Altieri, Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing

12:00 – 12:20 PM
Pick up lunches

12:25 – 1:45 PM
Workshops Session 1

  • Utopia and Literature
    K. Tempest Bradford, Writer

  • Creating a New Feminist Framework for K-12 Education
    Ileana Jiménez, FeministTeacher.com

  • Prison Abolition
    Reina Gossett, Writer and Activist

  • Desiring Change
    Amber Hollibaugh, Queers for Economic Justice

  • Addressing Poverty
    Valery Jean, FUREE

  • Climate Change
    Cassie Flynn, ioby

2:00 – 3:00 PM
Afternoon Keynotes

  • Learning from Tip to Top: Tilting Education and the Outraged Movement
    Marisa Rius, National Autonomous University of Mexico Program of Gender Studies

  • Queer Pedagogies in Public Places
    Jennifer Miller, Circus Amok!

3:15 – 4:45 PM
Workshops Session 2

  • Talking Back to Culture Through Feminist Remix
    Elisa Kreisinger, PopCulturePirate.com and Francesca Coppa, The Organization for Transformative Works

  • Beyond “Food Fights”: Re-imagining Food Justice
    Pamela Phillips, Barnard Center for Research on Women and Gwendolyn Beetham, Independent Scholar

  • Design for America

  • Open Education: Transformational Learning
    Dean Spade, Seattle University School of Law and Rickke Mananzala, Activist

  • Another World is Possible: Creating Communities that Reinvent Ourselves as we Reinvent the World
    Kavitha Rao, The Common Fire Foundation

  • Feminism and Parenting: A Workshop for Parents, Caregivers, and Allies
    Simone Kolysh, CUNY Graduate Center and Victoria Law, Writer

5:00 – 6:00 PM
Reception with student-curated Utopian playlists

More from this event:

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