Women & Gender Studies Institute

WGS Research Seminar

The seminar is scheduled monthly on a Wednesday, from 4:00–6:00 p.m. The WGS Research Seminar is a monthly forum for interdisciplinary research in feminist and gender studies. Directed at both faculty and graduate students within the WGSI and across the campus as a whole, the seminar’s goal is to foster intellectual engagement with key theoretical, social and political questions touching on gender and feminism and their many intersections through the presentation of cutting-edge work by leading researchers both within and beyond the University of Toronto.

Fall 2019 Schedule

Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
JHB100A, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street.

Adelle Blackett, McGill University

Title:  Everyday Transgressions:  Domestic Workers’ Transnational Challenge to International Labour Law

In this book, Blackett tells the story behind the ILO’s 2011 Decent Work for Domestic Workers’ Convention No. 189, and its accompanying Recommendation No. 201 – they created the first comprehensive, international standards to extend protections and rights to domestic workers laboring in homes around the world.  As the principal legal architect of these instruments, Blackett takes us behind the scenes to show us how they transgress the everyday law of the household workplace to embrace domestic workers’ human rights claims to be workers like any other – and like no other.  She discusses the importance of historical forms of invisibility, recognizes the influence of the domestic workers themselves, and weaves in poignant experiences, infusing the discussion of laws and standards with a sense of intimacy and sophistication.  Looking to the future, she ponders how international institutions such as the ILO will address labour market informality alongside national and regional law reform.  Everyday Transgressions establishes that domestic workers’ victory is a victory for the ILO and for all who struggle for an inclusive, transnational vision of labour law.

Bio:  Adelle Blackett is Professor of Law and Canada Research Chair in Transnational Labour Law and Development at the Faculty of Law, McGill University. She founded and directs the Labour Law and Development Research Laboratory.  

Professor Blackett holds a B.A. in History from Queen’s University, civil law and common law degrees from McGill, and an LL.M. and a doctorate in law from Columbia University. She has edited or guest edited several volumes on Transnational Labour Law, with a focus on the global South.  Through teaching and research on slavery and the law and critical race theory, she has worked to bring a decolonial approach to the study of labour law.  Her book manuscript entitled Everyday Transgressions: Domestic Workers’ Transnational Challenge to International Labour Law (Cornell University Press) was published in Spring 2019.

A former official of the International Labour Office in Geneva, Professor Blackett has been an ILO expert on international standard setting on decent work for domestic workers (2008-2011) leading to the adoption of ILO Convention No. 189 and Recommendation No. 201; and in a labour law reform process in Haiti (2011-2014). In 2009, she was unanimously appointed by the National Assembly of Quebec to the province’s Human rights and youth rights Commission, where she served as a commissioner for seven (7) years.  In November 2018, she was appointed to the Human Rights Expert Panel of the Government of Canada’s renewed Court Challenges Program.  She was appointed to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) Chapter 23 (Trade and Labour) Roster of experts in December 2018.

In 2010, Professor Blackett was awarded the Social Science and Humanities Research Council’s Bora Laskin National Fellowship in Human Rights Research, andin 2016 skhe became a fellow of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.  Her project supported a bilingual, live webcast course with guest speakers from around the world, at McGill in Winter 2019, commemorating the ILO’s centenary. She was elected to the International Academy of Comparative Law in July 2019.

A member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Barreau du Québec, she was awarded the latter’s Christine Tourigny Award of Merit and the status of advocate emeritus in 2014, in recognition of her social commitment and her contributions to the advancement of women. In 2015, the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers awarded her its Pathfinder Award for her significant contributions to the legal community and the community at large.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
JHB100A, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street.

Richa Nagar, University of Minnesota

Title:  “Hungry Translations in Search of Justice”

Bio:  Richa Nagar’s transgenre and multilingual scholarship, creative writing, and cultural work in English, Hindi/ Hindustani, and Awadhi blurs the borders of academia, arts, and activism to build alliances with people’s struggles and to engage questions of ethics, responsibility, and justice through knowledge making. She is Professor of the College in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, USA, where she holds a Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennett Chair in Excellence and a Beverly and Richard Fink Professorship in Liberal Arts. Richa has worked closely with the Sangtin movement of farmers and laborers in India, and she has co-built a multi-sited community theatre project called Parakh. She is a founding co-editor of the online, open-access, open-genre journal, AGITATE! Unsettling Knowledges.  Her publications in English and Hindi include eight monographs and edited volumes, and dozens of articles, essays, stories, poems, and plays.  The books in English include Playing with Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism through Seven Lives in India (2006), A World of Difference: Encountering and Contesting Development, 2nd edition (2009), Critical Transnational Feminist Praxis (2010), Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms across Scholarship and Activism (2014), and Hungry Translations: Relearning the World Through Radical Vulnerability (2019).

Readings for seminar

Wednesday, November 27, 2019, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
JHB100A, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street

Dr. Prabha Kotiswaran, The Dickson Poon School of Law

Title: Governance Feminism: Assessing Feminist Realities and Futures

My talk will discuss the key themes of a project that I have engaged in with my collaborators (Janet Halley, Rachel Rebouche & Hila Shamir) that resulted in two books Governance Feminism: An Introduction and Governance Feminism: Notes from the Field (University of Minnesota Press, 2018, 2019). The Governance Feminism books seek to understand how some feminists and feminist ideas—but by no means all—have entered into state and state-like power in recent years. Being a feminist can qualify you for a job in the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Criminal Court, the local prosecutor’s office, or the child welfare agency.  However governance feminism emerges from traditional sites of state power as well as from various forms of governance and operating at the grassroots level, in the private sector, in civil society, and in international relations. My talk will address our key findings from the Governance Feminism project before presenting my work from the two books on the role of feminist law reform projects in addressing violence against women in India. I conclude by asking how we might assess feminist successes and failures. What responsibility do we shoulder for the outcomes of our work? What compromises and strange allies do we make along the way?  Ultimately, I ask if feminism can foster a critique of its own successes?

Bio: Dr Prabha Kotiswaran is Professor of Law & Social Justice at King’s College London. Her main areas of research include criminal law, transnational criminal law, sociology of law, postcolonial theory and feminist legal theory. She has authored Dangerous Sex, Invisible Labor: Sex Work and the Law in India (Princeton 2011, winner of the 2012 SLSA-Hart Prize for Early Career Academics) and co-authored Governance Feminism: An Introduction (Minnesota 2018, with Janet Halley, Rachel Rebouché and Hila Shamir). She has edited Sex Work (Women Unlimited, Delhi 2011), Towards an Economic Sociology of Law (Wiley 2013, with Amanda Perry-Kessaris and Diamond Ashiagbor), Revisiting the Law and Governance of Trafficking, Forced Labor and Modern Slavery (Cambridge University Press 2017) and Governance Feminism: Notes from the Field (Minnesota 2019, with Janet Halley, Rachel Rebouché and Hila Shamir). She is currently working on a project on the laws of social reproduction.

Winter 2020 Schedule

Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
JHB100A, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street.

Kandice Chuh, City University of New York

Title:  Pedagogies of Il/liberal Humanism

Can the humanities be oriented toward the ends of proliferating imaginaries and sensibilities disidentified from the ideologies and logics of liberalism and derived instead from attention to the entangled histories of and ongoing connection among the impoverishment of peoples and worlds, enslaved and gendered labor, Indigenous dispossession, developmentalism, and knowledge work?  What pedagogies and practices afford the generation of imaginaries organized by the radical, irrevocable relationality of these connections?  Kandice Chuh engages such questions in this talk as she proposes as a collective project for the humanities the elicitation of subjects and social structures capable of reckoning with these entangled conditions.

Bio – Kandice Chuh – Kandice Chuh is a professor of English, American studies, and Critical Social Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she is also a member of the M.A. in Liberal Studies faculty, and affiliate faculty to the Africana studies program.  She is currently Executive Officer of the PhD Program in English, and in the past served as Coordinator of the American Studies Certificate Program and acting associate director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics. The author of The Difference Aesthetics Makes: on the humanities ‘after Man’ (2019) and Imagine Otherwise: on Asian Americanist Critique (2003), which won the American Studies Association’s Lora Romero Book Award, Chuh is the co-editor, with Karen Shimakawa, of Orientations: Mapping Studies in the Asian Diaspora (2001).  She has published in such venues as Public Culture, American Literary History, American Quarterly, Social Text, and the Journal of Asian American Studies.  President of the American Studies Association from 2017-18, Chuh is a member of the Association for Asian American Studies and the Modern Language Association.  Chuh’s current research focuses on Asian racialization in the era of globalization, and she teaches courses on aesthetic theory, queer theory and queer of color critique, decolonial studies, and Asian and Asian American racialization.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 4:00-6:00p.m.

Location: AP 246, Richard B. Lee Boardroom, Anthropology, 19 Russell Street, 2nd Floor

Andrea Allen, University of Toronto

Title: “Whosoever will, let them come: LGBT evangelicals in Brazil”

In this talk, I will discuss my on-going research project about LGBT evangelicals in Brazil.  Drawing on preliminary findings based on ethnographic fieldwork in São Paulo, Brazil, I will argue that LGBT evangelicals occupy a precarious position in Brazilian society as they stand as outsiders in both evangelical and LGBT communities.  This interstitial space in which LGBT evangelicals find themselves is revealed through their espousal of a theology of “evangelical inclusivity.”  By focusing on LGBT evangelicals and their theological beliefs as well as their experiences, I will provide insight into how sexual and gender minorities within Christian communities contend with competing narratives involving sexuality, gender, religion, and politics. 

Bio: Andrea S. Allen is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto.  She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard University, a M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from Northwestern University.  Her research has addressed matters of race, sexuality, gender, violence, and religion in Brazil and the African Diaspora.  Through a focus on LGBTQ Brazilians, especially Afro-Brazilian lesbian women, her work explores the effects of marginalization from an embodied perspective.  In interrogating the everyday, her research prioritizes lived experiences as an essential locus of inquiry when contemplating the contradictions and dissonances of human existence.  She has conducted ethnographic research related to the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé, same-sex sexuality, and gender. Her book Violence and Desire in Brazilian Lesbian Relationships (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) focused on the experiences of lesbian women in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020, 4:00-6:00 p.m.

Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles Street West

Hazel Carby, Yale University

More details will be posted soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 3:00–6:00 p.m. 

Room 2053, New College, 40 Willcocks Street

PhD degree and PhD collaborative specialization students in Women and Gender Studies present their doctoral research.