The Barnard Center for Research on Women is the nation’s oldest feminist research center and, since its founding in 1971, has brought scholars and activists together to advance intersectional social justice feminism. Over the last 15 years, BCRW has strengthened our commitment to scholar-feminist praxis by building a series of collaborative projects with activists, activist-scholars, and community-based organizations and coalitions in New York City and beyond.
Our collaborations with these groups and our projects’ outcomes have provided crucial legitimacy for campaigns in their earliest stages. These collaborative projects draw on the resources that BCRW can provide, including research, infrastructure, and resources for activists to explore new approaches that are not yet or not otherwise fundable, outside the constraints of a non-profit organizational structure.
2016 marks the launch of the BCRW Activist Institute, the next stage of our activist-academic collaborations. The inaugural Social Justice Institute Activists-in-Residence are Reina Gossett, Cara Page, Tarso Ramos, Andrea Ritchie, and Dean Spade.
Reina Gossett, Activist-in-Residence
Reina Gossett is the former membership director at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and director of the Welfare Organizing Project at Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ). An activist, writer and filmmaker, she is a recipient of the George Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship by the Open Society Foundation for her work with LGBT people navigating criminalization. In 2009 she was the Stonewall Community Foundation Honoree for her collaboration with Sasha Wortzel on Happy Birthday, Marsha!, a film detailing the lives of Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. In 2013, Gossett was awarded the BCRW Activist Fellowship for her work at the intersections of trans justice and prison abolition, and to support her ongoing work to document and elevate the histories and legacies of trans women of color.
As an Activist-in-Residence, Gossett will continue her work producing videos and other activist-educational resources, as well as organizing and hosting a collaborative art exhibit featuring work on disability justice, prison abolition, and queer and trans liberation in collaboration with Sins Invalid, a disability justice organization that centers the work of queer and trans artists of color, and the Trans Life and Liberation Art Series, which amplifies the struggles and resiliency of trans femmes of color.
Cara Page, Activist-in-Residence
Cara Page is the Executive Director of the Audre Lorde Project. Over the past three decades, she has worked within movements for queer & trans liberation, reproductive justice, healing justice, and racial and economic justice. She is co-founder and former Coordinator of the Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective and former National Director of the Committee on Women, Population & the Environment. For her outstanding achievements in community organizing around the arts and social justice, Page has received awards and fellowships from the National Center for Human Rights & Education and The Rockefeller Foundation.
As an Activist-in-Residence, Page will deepen her study on historical and contemporary eugenic practices and medical experimentation to shape a public discourse on the historical and contemporary role of eugenic violence as an extension of state control and surveillance on Black & immigrant communities; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming people; people with disabilities; and Women of Color. Through creating political writings, cultural performance and communal forums on these issues she will gather a cohort of healers/health practitioners, cultural workers, organizers, scientists and service providers to transform institutional eugenic practices; and memorialize sites of eugenic practice to bear witness to these atrocities and begin to organize and heal.
Tarso Ramos, Activist-in-Residence
Tarso Ramos is Executive Director of Political Research Associates. Under his leadership, PRA has expanded existing lines of research documenting right wing attacks on reproductive, gender and racial justice by launching several new initiatives on subjects that include the export of U.S.-style homophobic campaigns abroad, the spread of Islamophobia, and the Right’s investment in redefining religious liberty toward discriminatory ends. Before joining PRA, Ramos served as founding director of Western States Center’s Racial Justice Program, which works to oppose racist public policy initiatives and support progressive people of color-led organizations. As director of the Wise Use Public Exposure Project in the mid-’90s, he tracked the Right’s anti-union and anti-environmental campaigns.
As an Activist-in-Residence, Ramos will convene a group of movement leaders to discuss and document intersectional approaches to movement building in the context of growing right wing attacks against reproductive, racial, gender, and economic justice. This group will identify best practices and develop models based on the work of Political Research Associates to highlight the effectiveness of intersectional work and provide resources for progressive, people-of-color-led base-building work.
Andrea J. Ritchie, Researcher-in-Residence
Andrea J. Ritchie was most recently a Soros Justice Fellow at the Open Society Foundations, where she documented policy reforms and litigation strategies that address the specific ways in which discriminatory policing impacts women of color. Through research, writing, legal services, and organizing, Ritchie has dedicated the past two decades to challenging abusive and discriminatory policing against women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of color. She is the co-author of “Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women” (2015), A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations For Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People Living with HIV (2014) and Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States (Beacon Press)
As a Researcher-in-Residence, Ritchie will focus on deepening public understandings of the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and criminal justice through the completion of her book Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color. She will also publish a series of articles on policing of race, gender, sexuality, and criminal justice, and conduct public engagement on these topics with activists, academics, and policy-makers. Ritchie will also conduct research to develop a framework for the philanthropic community to support and sustain the innovative and intersectional models that challenge the violent policing and criminalization of women, LGBTQ immigrants, and people of color.
Dean Spade, Activist-in-Residence
Dean Spade ‘97 is Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law where he teaches Administrative Law, Poverty Law, and Law and Social Movements. He founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in 2002, a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to low-income transgender, intersex and gender nonconforming people. SRLP also engages in litigation, policy reform and public education on issues affecting these communities. He is the author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law (2011, Rev. Ed. 2015). In 2015, Spade was awarded a BCRW Activist Fellowship for his work on trans liberation, prison abolition, and the limits and tactical uses of legal strategies for left organizing. As an Activist Fellow, Spade co-produced a number of activist and educational videos on anti-violence activism and the impact and limits of the non-profit industrial complex on contemporary social movements. Spade is also the recipient of the 2016 Kessler Award from CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies and Gay Studies for his transformative impact on the field of LGBTQ Studies.
As an Activist-in-Residence, Spade will collaborate with Activist-in-Residence Reina Gossett to develop videos and other activist-educational resources focusing on the critical intersections of disability justice, prison abolition, and queer and trans liberation in collaboration with Sins Invalid, a disability justice organization that centers the work of queer and trans artists of color, and the Trans Life and Liberation Art Series, which amplifies the struggles and resiliency of trans femmes of color. Spade will also collaborate with Activist-in-Residence Andrea J. Ritchie to produce a series of activist-educational videos on police violence targeting girls, women, and LGBTQ people of color.
2014-2016 ACTIVIST FELLOWS PROGRAM
Building a New Queer Agenda: A Partnership with Queer Survival Economies
- From 2005 to 2007, BCRW partnered with Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ) to host “Desiring Change,” a series of activist-academic convenings culminating in a day-long convening with 21 social justice organizations on the importance of coalitional and multi-issue organizing strategies and the value of re-centering sexuality in progressive organizing. Organizations that joined the 2007 convening include the Labor/Community Strategy Center, the LGBT Community Center, the Western States Center, Q-Team, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, the Audre Lorde Project, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Generation Five, South Asian Network, Women’s Foundation of California, Social Justice Fund, Center for New Community, QEJ, and BCRW.
- In 2011, BCRW and QEJ published “A New Queer Agenda,” an issue of the Scholar and Feminist Online, co-edited by Lisa Duggan, Joseph DeFilippis, Kenyon Farrow, and Richard Kim, and with contributions from Richard Blum, Terry Boggis, Reed Christian, Debanuj DasGupta, Joseph DeFilippis, John D’Emilio, Áine Duggan, Lisa Duggan, Kenyon Farrow, Marcia M. Gallo, Che Gossett, Reina Gossett, Tom Hill, Amber Hollibaugh, Richard Kim, AJ Lewis, Syd London, Rickke Mananzala, Robert McRuer, Anya Mukarji-Connolly, N. Ordover, Susan Raffo, Laura F. Redman, Catherine Sameh, Svati P. Shah, Southerners on New Ground (SONG), Jessica Stern, Kay Whitlock, and Miriam W. Yeung. he issue is available online at http://sfonline.barnard.edu/a-new-queer-agenda.
- In 2011, BCRW published Desiring Change, a New Feminist Solutions report written by Amber Hollibaugh, Janet Jakobsen, and Catherine Sameh and synthesizing the contributions to SF Online and the results of the “Desiring Change” colloquia. View the issue online at http://http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publications/nfs7/report
- In 2014-15, BCRW awarded Amber Hollibaugh with its one of its first-ever Senior Activist Fellowships to establish Queer Survival Economies, a project carrying forward QEJ’s vital work to address the intersections of sexuality, poverty, homelessness, labor, and the criminalization of survival.
- In 2015, Queer Survival Economies partnered with the Murphy Institute to convene Queer Survival Economies: Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies, a public conference bringing together organizers, activists, scholars and community members to discuss overlooked and often invisible economic justice issues at the intersection of class, race, gender, immigration, non-traditional families, sexuality and the law. The conference led to the publication of “Queer Precarity,” by Amber Hollibaugh and Margot Weiss, in New Labor Forum.
- In 2016, Queer Survival Economies presented a day-long workshop at the Creating Change Conference, the annual conference sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to support change for social justice and a plenary panel at BCRW’s 41st annual Scholar & Feminist Conference.
Activism and Aging: A Partnership with Katherine Acey
- In 2014-15, BCRW awarded Katherine Acey with one of its first-ever Senior Activist Fellowships to research and develop a project on issues impacting LGBTQ elders, aging in the LGBTQ community, and bridging LGBTQ activist generations. Acey is currently serving as an advisor to GRIOT Circle, a people of color LGBTQ elders organization based in Brooklyn, NY, where she was previously the Executive Director.
- Beginning in the fall of 2015, Acey has hosted intergenerational convenings with activists who are LGBTQ and/or women to share experiences, knowledge, and individual and collective needs to shape the next stages of this project.
- In January 2016, Acey was awarded the Sage National LGBTQ Aging and Leadership Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force at the annual Creating Change Conference.
Making a Way Out of No Way: A Partnership with Reina Gossett
- In 2013, Reina Gossett was awarded a BCRW Activist Fellowship for her work at the intersections of trans justice and prison abolition, and her work to document and honor the lives and legacies of trans women of color Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
- From 2013-2014, Gossett developed and participated in a video series called “No One is Disposable: Everyday Practices of Prison Abolition” with BCRW Activist Fellow Dean Spade, produced by BCRW, on prison abolition as a political framework, rather than a single issue, and why it should be central to struggles for trans and gender liberation. This series is available online at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/event/no-one-is-disposable-everyday-practices-of-prison-abolition/.
- In 2014, Gossett and Spade participated in BCRW’s first-ever online event, #NoOneIsDisposable, co-sponsored by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, in which audience members submitted questions and engaged in dialogue on prison abolition and the ways it intersects with queer and trans justice movements. This experiment in digital learning and organizing engaged BCRW’s audiences and helped this critical work reach a broader base. A recording of this event is available online at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/event/no-one-is-disposable-everyday-practices-of-prison-abolition/.
- Also in 2014, Gossett and Spade partnered with activist CeCe McDonald to produce “‘I Use My Love to Guide Me’: Surviving and Thriving in the Face of Impossible Situations,” a public lecture and video series on trans activism and prison abolition, co-sponsored by BCRW, Office of Social Justice Initiatives at The New School, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School, and Transgender Youth Support Network. Recordings and original videos are available online at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/event/i-use-my-love-to-guide-me-cece-mcdonald-reina-gossett-dean-spade/.
- In early 2017, Gossett and co-producer Sasha Wortzel will release their film “Happy Birthday, Marsha!” This film is a creative retelling of the personal, political, and collective history of the Stonewall Rebellion through the lives of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, Black and Latina trans women who organized around homelessness, poverty, racism, and gender liberation in New York City. More information about the film is available at http://happybirthdaymarsha.com.
Documenting Queer and Trans Resistance: A Partnership with Dean Spade
- In 2015, Dean Spade, Barnard College class of 1997, was awarded a BCRW Activist Fellowship for his work on trans liberation, prison abolition, and the limits and tactical uses of legal strategies for left organizing.
- In 2015, Spade and BCRW Creative Director Hope Dector produced a video series on historical challenges and strategies for anti-violence movements based on interviews conducted at the 2013 Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Conference, co-sponsored by BCRW and the Engaging Tradition Project at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School. These videos include interviews with Angélica Cházaro, Shira Hassan, Soniya Munshi, Andrea Ritchie, Andrea Smith, and Dean Spade. View the videos online at http://sfonline.barnard.edu/activism-and-the-academy/queer-dreams-and-nonprofit-blues-lessons-from-anti-violence-movements/.
- In 2016, Spade and BCRW Creative Director Hope Dector produced a video series called “Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues” also based on interviews conducted at the 2013 Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Conference. These videos include interviews with Christine Ahn, Trishala Deb, Kenyon Farrow, Shira Hassan, Paulina Helm-Hernandez, Imani Henry, Amber Hollibaugh, N’Tanya Lee, Andrea Ritchie, Dean Spade, Urvashi Vaid, Jason Walker, and Craig Willse. View the videos online at http://sfonline.barnard.edu/navigating-neoliberalism-in-the-academy-nonprofits-and-beyond/dean-spade-hope-dector-queer-dreams-and-nonprofit-blues-understanding-the-npic/.
Responding to Violence: A Collaboration with Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams
- In October 2002, BCRW collaborated with Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams to host Responding to Violence, a day-long colloquium with thirty activists and scholars dedicated to theorizing feminist responses to forms of violence, including war, hate violence, police brutality, intimate partner violence, and domestic abuse. The project as a whole made the argument that feminist approaches and thinking about women and gender make a difference in peace-building.
- In 2004, Williams and BCRW published Responding to Violence, Rethinking Security, a New Feminist Solutions report summarizing feminist anti-violence research and strategies focusing on human security, disarmament, demilitarization, and policy alternatives. The issue is available online at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publications/responding-to-violence/.
- Also in 2004, BCRW published through Palgrave press, Interventions: Academics and Activists Respond to Violence, editedby Elizabeth Castelli and Janet Jakobsen with a contribution by Jody Williams and twenty other participants in the colloquium.
- In 2006, Williams went on to co-found the Nobel Women’s Initiative with fellow Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Maguire, and later joined by Aung San Suu Kyi, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkol Karman. The Nobel Women’s Initiative continues the work of advocating for peace beyond disarmament; a commitment to equality and justice; a democratic world free of physical, economic, cultural, political, religious, sexual and environmental violence and the constant threat of these forms of violence against women and all people.
Work-Family Justice: A Partnership with A Better Balance
- In 2007, BCRW partnered with A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center, along with the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California at Hastings and the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development to host The Work-Family Dilemma: Policy Solutions for All New Yorkers, a day-long summit on work-family issues across the economic spectrum with fifty participants, including leaders and experts (those who have studied these issues and those who advocate for better policies) and the actual stakeholders (labor, business and elected officials in New York City), as well as keynote speaker Betsy Gotbaum, Public Advocate for New York City (and Barnard alum).
- Also in 2007, following a consensus among participants on the need for a comprehensive work-family policy advocacy agenda for New York City, BCRW and a Better Balance produced The Work-Family Dilemma: A Better Balance: Policy Solutions for All New Yorkers, a New Feminist Solutions report based on research and discussions from the summit. The report is available online at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publications/the-work-family-dilemma-a-better-balance/.
- In 2016, A Better Balance and their partners won the campaign for Paid Family Leave in New York, which will ensure paid time off and the ability to care for their families with job security for up to 6.4 million New Yorkers. New York now has the strongest paid family leave program in the U.S., and is the fourth state in the country to guarantee paid family leave for workers welcoming a new child or caring for an ill family member, and the first to provide 12 weeks of job-protected paid time off. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law on April 4, 2016. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2018.
Building a Domestic Workers Movement: A Partnership with Domestic Workers United (DWU) and the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)
- 2008 began a three-year partnership between DWU, NDWA, and BCRW in support of movements to ensure that domestic work–which has been systemically racialized, gendered, and devalued, justifying low-wages and abusive conditions for women of color and immigrant women–is visible, safe, protected and valued. Founded in 2000, DWU is an organization of Caribbean, Latina, Asian, and African nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers for the elderly in New York City. NDWA was formed at the US Social Forum in 2007, and seeks to organize the 2.5 million domestic workers in the US. DWU and NDWA work at local, national and international levels toward fair labor standards, respect, and dignity for workers, and broader movements for social justice.
- BCRW hosted the first NDWA congress at Barnard College in 2008.
- BCRW hosted NDWA’s first East Coast Regional Congress in 2009.
- In 2009, BCRW published Valuing Domestic Work, an issue of the Scholar and Feminist Online, co-edited by Janet Jakobsen and Gisela Fosado and with contributions from Eileen Boris, Christine E. Bose, Arlie Russell Hochschild, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), Jennifer Klein, Wendy Kozol, Pei-Chia Lan, Premilla Nadasen, NDWA, Leah Obias, Ai-jen Poo, Saskia Sassen, Third World Newsreel, and Basia Winograd. This issue is available at http://sfonline.barnard.edu/work
- In 2009, BCRW published Valuing Domestic Work, a New Feminist Solutions report written by Premilla Nadasen and Tiffany Williams. View this report at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publications/nfs5
- On August 31, 2010, New York Governor David Paterson signed into law the nation’s first Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, paving the way towards increased recognition and protection of domestic workers. Since that time six other states have followed New York’s lead and passed Domestic Workers Bill of Rights legislation.
Reproductive Justice In Action: A Partnership with Groundswell’s Catalyst Fund and the New York Women’s Foundation (NYWF)
- In 2009, BCRW partnered on a participatory action research project with Groundswell’s Catalyst Fund, NYWF, and seventeen of their grantee partners doing reproductive justice work in New York City, including the African Hope Committee, Brooklyn Young Mothers’ Collective, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Girls Education and Mentoring Services, Girls for Gender Equity, Love Heals: The Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education, NYCLU Teen Health Initiative, Red Hook Initiative, Rightrides for Women’s Safety, Sauti Yetu Center for African Women, Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research and Treatment, Sistas on the Rise, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Voces Latinas, Women’s HIV Collaborative of New York, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, and Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition. The research focused on articulating an organizing model for reproductive justice at the intersections of racial and economic justice; documentation of participating organizations’ best practices; and amplification of the work of women and LGBTQ people of color organizations in broader movements for systemic change.
- BCRW and NYWF published Reproductive Justice in Action, a New Feminist Solutions report written by Rebecca Jordan-Young, Lucy Trainor, and Janet Jakobsen based on the coalition’s research and findings. The report is available online at: http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publications/reproductive-justice-in-action/.
- In 2010, BCRW and NYWF sponsored a daylong conference, “Critical Intersections: Reproductive and Economic Justice,” during which the seventeen participating organizations presented organizational history, research findings, best practices, and next steps for their work. Conference presentations from the seventeen participating organizations are available online at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publications/nfs6/presentations
- BCRW produced podcast and video versions of “Creating Systemic Change at the Intersection of Economic and Reproductive Justice,” a recording of a conference panel discussion moderated by Laura Flanders of GRITtv featureing Sylvia Henriquez (Executive Director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health), Lynn Paltrow (Executive Director, National Advocates for Pregnant Women), and Miriam Yeung (Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum). The podcast is available online at http://http://bcrw.barnard.edu/podcasts/creating-systemic-change-at-the-intersection-of-economic-and-reproductive-justice/ and the video is available at http://http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publications/nfs6/creating-systemic-change-at-the-intersection-of-economic-and-reproductive-justice/
- This collaboration also led to the production of the documentary “Justice at the Intersections: Action for Reproductive and Economic Justice in NYC,” by filmmaker Tiona McClodden and featuring interviews with 16 organizations doing reproductive justice work in New York City premiered at the 2010 conference. The film is available online at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publications/nfs6/video-1/
African Women’s Rights and Resilience: A Collaboration with Leymah Gbowee
- In 2013-14, BCRW awarded Nobel Laureate and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee with the Transnational Fellowship, the same year that Barnard College honored her as the inaugural Distinguished Fellow in Social Justice.
- Gbowee’s year in residence included African Women’s Rights and Resilience, a day-long symposium, addressing key issues for continental women’s movements, including the role of men in women’s social justice movements, the importance of intergenerational activism, and the stakes of transnational feminist engagements within and beyond the African continent. Materials, including video, from the day-long symposium are available online at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/african-resilience/symposium.
- Gbowee also engaged in a pedagogical collaboration with Tina Campt, Professor of Africana and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Director of BCRW, in which they developed a distinctive adaptation of the WGSS Feminist Theory Colloquium. Course description, materials, student reflections, and video are available online at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/african-resilience/course-materials.
The Digital Shange Project: A Collaboration with Ntozake Shange
- During the academic year 2014-2015, Ntozake Shange, Barnard College class of 1970, was awarded the BCRW Distinguished Artist Fellowship for her work as a poet, novelist, and choreographer, and her innovative creation of the choreopoem, a form that links the physicality of dancing and music to the written word, beginning with her Obie-award winning theater production for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf.
- In 2015, BCRW published a special double issue of S&F Online called “The Worlds of Ntozake Shange” guest edited by Kim F. Hall, Monica L. Miller, and Yvette Christiansë. This issue highlights Shange’s centrality to black feminism and her continuing impact on literature, theatre, popular culture, feminist, Afrodiasporic and queer movements, with many pointing to her linguistic innovations as tools that have proven vital to feminist practice. This issue is available online at http://sfonline.barnard.edu/worlds-of-ntozake-shange.
- During the academic year 2014-2015, the Africana Studies Department and BCRW began the Digital Shange Project, which provides materials designed to bring the works of Ntozake Shange, archival materials, and embodied learning to the classroom. Students in the Worlds of Ntozake Shange & Digital Storytelling course worked with archivists at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to create public digital projects that engage Shange’s relationship to the Black Arts Movement and Women of Color/Third World Feminisms, producing videos, digital stories, and Wikipedia entries. See the student projects at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/digitalshange/projects and contributions to Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Arts_Movement.
- More information about Digital Shange, including original videos on Shange’s legacy and artistic practice, can be viewed online at http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publications/digital-shange.