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The Sixth Annual Women’s History Month Symposium

John D. O’Bryant African American Institute
Cabral Center
40 Leon Street, Boston

Friday, March 15, 2019
9:45 am – 4:45 pm

View the full program for the day, including talk descriptions and speaker biographies.

Presented by the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program

Sponsored by: the Global Resilience Institute and the Northeastern Humanities Center

Co-Sponsored by: the School of Law; the Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research; the Ethics Institute and the Department of Philosophy and Religion; the Program in Human Services; the Department of Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies and the African American Studies Program; and the Departments of English, History, Political Science, and Sociology & Anthropology. 

Resilience is a fraught concept. Resilience Studies is in vogue in the academy, where resilience is promoted as a desirable attainment and positive value. But resilience is often used in ways that reinforce both racialized and gendered representations of the strength expected of marginalized communities and individuals. Ideologies that promote self-empowerment can distract us from identifying institutional harms and seeking structural solutions. This symposium challenges mainstream perceptions of resilience and offers a feminist critique of resilience narratives while helping us imagine varieties of alternative feminist responses to vulnerability.

Even as the current championing of resilience deserves scrutiny, women have long carried a disproportionate burden in moments of social crisis, and women have been on the front lines of strengthening community resilience in response to both chronic stresses and slowly emerging disruptions, including climate change, democratic instability, and crises of public health, in ways rarely attended to in Resilience Studies. We will look at how feminist social movements have modeled creative modes of leadership, and we will examine best practices for the expansion of feminist networks of resilience.

This interdisciplinary symposium will focus on the hidden premises, obfuscations, and ideological biases of Resilience Studies. Participants will consider how gender figures in thinking about resilience and how feminists engage social movements, digital spaces, and broader communities, noticing that women—often women of color—are consistently leaders in these spaces. Throughout the day, we will promote an active dialogue among scholars, activists, and community organizers in a broad discussion of both the limitations of resilience as a value and the contours of a feminist praxis of resilience.

Speakers include a mix of academics, activists, authors, and organizers from around the nation. Panelists include: Moya Bailey (Northeastern University), Shalanda Baker (Northeastern University), Stephanie DeCandia (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center/Northeastern University), DiDi Delgado (Black Lives Matter Global Network/The DiDi Delgado Experience, LLC), Leigh Gilmore (Wellesley College), Deon Haywood (Women with a Vision) and Laura McTighe (Dartmouth College), L.A. Kauffmann (Author and Grassroots Organizer), Tania Rosario-Mendez (Taller Salud), and Jessica Valenti (Author and Founder of Panels include: “Women’s Leadership on Climate, Energy, and  Health”, “Unpacking the Resilience of Patriarchy”, and “Imagining (Real) Feminist Resilience”.