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 2018 Schedule

Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 4:00–6:00 p.m. WI 2053, Wilson Hall, New College, 40 Willcocks Street
Talk title: Toward a Gendered Theory of Racial Capitalism and the Black Radical Tradition
Talk Abstract:  A key question left unanswered by Cedric Robinson’s groundbreaking text – Black Marxism:  The Making of the Black Radical Tradition – is whether and to what extent gender structures both racial and capitalism and the black radical tradition.  It is my contention that a gendered analysis is not only compatible with Robinson’s theory but amplifies its engagement with the process of differentiation inherent to capitalism.  Indeed, the monetary valuation and symbolic devaluation of black women, the pathologization of the black family are constitutive features of racial capitalism.  The gendered dynamics of racial capitalism have evolved over time from the 16th century to our present moment but retain characteristics that remain strikingly similar across time and space.
This talk aims to give fuller appreciation of this tradition by asking how gender has informed the fight against racial capitalism. In his historical archeology of the black radical traditional Robinson, tellingly, centers the early actions of Atlantic world maroons, among whom women consistently played crucial roles. The distinctive ways in which black women resisted and organized their lives during and after slavery ask us to reconsider and broaden what we mean when we speak about the black radical tradition.  Our understanding of the old histories of capitalism will remain incomplete until we fully reckon with the ways in which black women were not only uniquely exploited but were also critical to the preservation of black ontology.
Shauna Sweeney is a historian of the African Diaspora. Her research interests focus on slavery and freedom in the Caribbean, Latin America, and North America, early modern political economy and the development of racial capitalism, and transnational feminisms. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled “A Free Enterprise: Market Women, Insurgent Economies and the Making of Caribbean Freedom.” Her manuscript traces the ways in which, from their ascendance in the late seventeenth century to their institutionalization in the eighteenth century, Caribbean market-women —enslaved, free, and fugitive—constructed physical pathways and social spaces that served as counter-hegemonic sites of black self-determination. She is also co-editor of a special issue of Social Text entitled “The Question of Recovery: Slavery, Freedom, and the Archive,” (2015) which critically engaged with the limitations and possibilities of recovering black history through traditional archival practices. She was most recently a National Endowment for the Humanities and Omohundro Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at the College of William & Mary (2016-2018).
All welcome!
Refreshments will be served in the WGSI Lounge following the talk.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 4:00–6:00 p.m. JHB100A, Jackman Humanities Building, 70 St. George Street
New Directions in Black Studies: Mining the Raw and the Monstrous with Marlon M. Bailey and Jeffrey Q. McCune
 “It was like something I had never seen before”: Black Gay Sexual Spaces and ‘Situations’ in the Age of AIDS.
-Marlon M. Bailey
In this paper, Marlon Bailey explores what sexual health means for some black gay men and what it looks like from their own perspectives. Drawing from his ethnographic fieldwork in the Midwest, Bailey examines black gay men’s engagement in “high risk” or “raw” sex and the spaces and situations in which they occur. This project argues that the sexual practices, spaces, and situations in which black gay men participate are a means through which they claim and enact sexual autonomy during this HIV crisis that disproportionately impacts them.
   The Case of the Michaels, Queering the Monstrous
-Jeffrey Q. McCune
 Drawing from Jeffrey McCune’s book in progress, Read: An Experiment in Seeing Black, this paper offers new insights on anti-black discourses of the state. McCune will examine the performance of anti-blackness through a close reading of seemingly disparate subjects: the martyred 18-year old Michael Brown and the HIV-criminalized and imprisoned college student Michael Johnson, both victims of the Missouri state. This project brings these subjects in closer proximity—as both exist in a “lethal theatre,” wherein black bodies are treated as non-matter and too often their intersectional identities are deemed inadmissible or invisible. Here, McCune recovers the intersectional textures of conversations of anti-blackness to examine closely the state’s manipulation of “black men as monsters” as the explication for the queerest part of being black: the frequency of black death by the state.
Speaker Bios
Marlon M. Bailey is an Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University and the Distinguished Weinberg Fellow in the Department of African American Studies and the Programs in Gender and Sexuality Studies and American Studies at Northwestern University. Bailey is also a former Associate Professor of Gender Studies and American Studies at Indiana University, and Visiting Professor at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at the University of California, San Francisco.
Marlon’s book, Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2013. In 2014, Butch Queens Up in Pumps was awarded the Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize by the GL/Q Caucus of the Modern Language Association and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Book Award in LGBT studies. Dr. Bailey has published in SignsFeminist StudiesSoulsGender, Place, and CultureThe Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, AIDS Patient Care & STDsLGBT HealthGLQ (forthcoming) and several book collections. His essay, “Black Gay (Raw) Sex,” was just published in No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies, edited by E. Patrick Johnson.
 OmiSoore H. Dryden, PhD is an interdisciplinary scholar who examines the queerness of Blackness, symbolics of blood and the “social life” of blood donation. Engaging with Black queer diasporic analytics, Dryden’s research interrogates the narratives about Black life, health, illness, and belonging that are embedded in the systems and tools of blood donation, including screening questionnaires. She also explores national and international constructions of the ideal blood donor (who gives life) alongside the pathologized tainted ‘other’ (who brings death). Dryden is the Principal Investigator of a two-year research project that seeks to identify the barriers African/Black gay, bisexual, and trans men encounter to donating blood in Canada. Funded by the Canadian Blood Services’ MSM Research Grant Program, #GotBlood2Give / #DuSangÀDonner also analyzes how anti-black racism, colonialism, and sexual exceptionalism shapes the debates of “gay blood” and the blood system in Canada. Dryden has published in peer-reviewed journals and has an edited collection (with Dr. Suzanne Lenon) titled, Disrupting Queer Inclusion: Canadian Homonationalisms and the Politics of Belonging (UBC Press, 2015). Dryden’s forthcoming monograph examines Canadian Blood Services’ blood donation questionnaire and how the blood stories assembled within this document, and in the larger blood system, intersect with and depict Blackness, queer sexualities, health equity and Canadian (homo)nation-making.
Jeffrey Q. McCune is Associate Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and African and African American Studies at Washington University, St. Louis. His first book, Sexual Discretion: Black Masculinity and the Politics of Passing (University of Chicago Press, 2014), combines media studies, literary analysis, and ethnography to explore the relationship between black masculinity and queer sexuality. An edited collection entitled Black Sexual Economies: Race & Sex in a Culture of Capital is forthcoming with University of Illinois Press. His current project, Read!: An Experiment in Seeing Black, focuses on black gay men’s vernacular use of “reading”—an interpretation/critique of embodied performance which is centered in one’s love and/or proximity to a black object—as a new way to theorize and analyze blackness.
 These events funded by the New College Initiatives Fund (NCIF), the Women & Gender Studies Institute and the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.
Refreshments will be served following the talk.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Thursday, October 25, 2018, 4:00–6:00 p.m. JHB100A, Jackman Humanities Building, 70 St. George Street
A Life That’s Good: Queer Perspectives on ‘Blood’, Sex and Health featuring Marlon M. Bailey, OmiSoore H. Dryden and Jeffrey Q. McCune
POST-DL Clean Up:  Addressing the Suspect to Criminal Pendulum
-Jeffrey Q. McCune
I ended Sexual Discretion discussing the development of the “sexual suspect” within black communities; embodies in any man who crossed the threshold of normative gender roles. Today, in lieu of HIV-Criminalization, it seems that communities corroborate with not only the criminalization of HIV, but the criminalization of all those who are seen as more vulnerable to its impacts. I am interested in a discussion about the implications for community treatment around HIV, which is tethered to HIV-positive subjects, as well as those who are understood as pollutants by nature of their sex or queer gender. How might we have a more comprehensive treatment plan, which cares for physical health, as well as cultural health?
 Our Blood is Sacred: Afro-phobia, the “grammar” of donation, and Black Life
-OmiSoore H. Dryden
In my research project #GotBlood2Give / #DuSangÀDonner, I explore the experiences of Black gay and bisexual men (cis and trans) with blood donation. I seek to understand the afro-phobic specificities of “gay blood,” and the “grammar” of donation. Since the first Canadian public blood donor clinic in 1940 until May 2018, the blood of Black people (transnational and diasporic – African, Caribbean and Black) has been banned from (refused for) donation. The fantasies of racial contamination and xenotransfusion undergird and enliven these blood donation practices. This paper reflects on our Black lives (our selves, health, and kinships) as determined through these narratives of blood.
“’Leave my keys on the TV!’
The Impact of Family Dynamics on the Sexual Selfhood of Black Gay Men”
-Marlon M. Bailey
This paper is drawn from a qualitative study that examines the role of families in the sexual development of young, gay black men; the development of their sexual selfhood, and the barriers to a healthy sexual development. Family dynamics play a critical role in the sexual selfhood development of gay, black men. Thus, I argue that affirming the sexual identity of these gay boys and young men holds the key to reconciling disruptions in sexual-selfhood development that occur during the formative years and may support self-acceptance and affirmation of a gay sexual identity and expression within an anti-Black and heteronormative society.
 Speaker Bios
Marlon M. Bailey is an Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University and the Distinguished Weinberg Fellow in the Department of African American Studies and the Programs in Gender and Sexuality Studies and American Studies at Northwestern University. Bailey is also a former Associate Professor of Gender Studies and American Studies at Indiana University, and Visiting Professor at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at the University of California, San Francisco.
Marlon’s book, Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2013. In 2014, Butch Queens Up in Pumps was awarded the Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize by the GL/Q Caucus of the Modern Language Association and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Book Award in LGBT studies. Dr. Bailey has published in SignsFeminist StudiesSoulsGender, Place, and CultureThe Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, AIDS Patient Care & STDsLGBT HealthGLQ (forthcoming) and several book collections. His essay, “Black Gay (Raw) Sex,” was just published in No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies, edited by E. Patrick Johnson.
 OmiSoore H. Dryden, PhD is an interdisciplinary scholar who examines the queerness of Blackness, symbolics of blood and the “social life” of blood donation. Engaging with Black queer diasporic analytics, Dryden’s research interrogates the narratives about Black life, health, illness, and belonging that are embedded in the systems and tools of blood donation, including screening questionnaires. She also explores national and international constructions of the ideal blood donor (who gives life) alongside the pathologized tainted ‘other’ (who brings death). Dryden is the Principal Investigator of a two-year research project that seeks to identify the barriers African/Black gay, bisexual, and trans men encounter to donating blood in Canada. Funded by the Canadian Blood Services’ MSM Research Grant Program, #GotBlood2Give / #DuSangÀDonner also analyzes how anti-black racism, colonialism, and sexual exceptionalism shapes the debates of “gay blood” and the blood system in Canada. Dryden has published in peer-reviewed journals and has an edited collection (with Dr. Suzanne Lenon) titled, Disrupting Queer Inclusion: Canadian Homonationalisms and the Politics of Belonging (UBC Press, 2015). Dryden’s forthcoming monograph examines Canadian Blood Services’ blood donation questionnaire and how the blood stories assembled within this document, and in the larger blood system, intersect with and depict Blackness, queer sexualities, health equity and Canadian (homo)nation-making.
 Jeffrey Q. McCune is Associate Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and African and African American Studies at Washington University, St. Louis. His first book, Sexual Discretion: Black Masculinity and the Politics of Passing (University of Chicago Press, 2014), combines media studies, literary analysis, and ethnography to explore the relationship between black masculinity and queer sexuality. An edited collection entitled Black Sexual Economies: Race & Sex in a Culture of Capital is forthcoming with University of Illinois Press. His current project, Read!: An Experiment in Seeing Black, focuses on black gay men’s vernacular use of “reading”—an interpretation/critique of embodied performance which is centered in one’s love and/or proximity to a black object—as a new way to theorize and analyze blackness.
 
These events funded by the New College Initiatives Fund (NCIF), the Women & Gender Studies Institute and the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.
Refreshments will be served following the talk.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Wednesday, November 28, 2018, 4:00–6:00 p.m. WI 2007D, Wilson Hall, New College, 40 Willcocks Street
From “Cock Sucker” to “Cool Child”:   Post/socialism and Transnational Queer Praxis – Shana Ye
The emergence of queer theorization in the 1990s is coeval with the end of Cold War, the transnational AIDS management and the rise of neoliberal China. How does the intersection of these geopolitical events configure some of the foundational theses of queer theory and its global legitimacy?
 In this talk, Shana Ye explores ways in which understandings of queer fluidity and anti-normativity are predicated on a Cold War liberalist divide of capitalist mobility and communist stuckness. The shift from the “iron” to the “water” metaphor of queerness mirrors the replacement of militant radical politics of the “cock sucker”—working class, cruising, promiscuous, HIV positive queer individuals, by the neoliberal queer self-realization of the “cool child” through free-flow capital, upward mobility, porous boundary crossing and the liquidation of othered bodies and population. This transition is interestingly consolidated through the emergence of postsocialist Chinese queerness in which the increasing interdependency of US and China has not only promised geopolitical desires for western sexual liberalism, but also structural and institutional basis for necropolitical management of life.
 Finally, draw from the conceptualization of communist sexuality as a sexual orientation(Bogdan Popa 2018), this talk addresses the limitation of current queer of color critique that re-prescribe the three three-worlds metageopolitics and considers what thinking with post/socialism can offer to reconfigure queerness.
 Dr. Shana Ye is an Assistant Professor in Women and Gender Studies at University of Toronto Scarborough and in the Women & Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. Her/their research lies at the intersection of transnational feminism, queer studies, post/socialist studies and theories of affect and trauma. Shana’s work up to date has examined the ways in which discourses of queer sexualities in post/socialism compete, align and are produced through history of colonialism, Cold War ideology, globalized modalities of neoliberalism, and new forms of empire making. From the perspectives of trauma and affective life, her/their book-in-progress, Red Father, Pink Son: Post/socialist Queer of Sino-US Empire explores how Chinese colonial and imperial formations are mapped out in queer subjectivity, sexual politics and transnational queer knowledge production of Chinese queerness. Centering on the “impossible” queer socialist subject—in China’s Cultural Revolution, HIV/AIDS movements, institutionalization of queer Chinese studies, transnational grassroots queer/feminist activism, as well as Chinese neocolonialism, Shana’s project brings to the forefront questions of representation, queer mode of knowing, and the sexualized, gendered, and racialized power relations in transnational queer praxis.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Spring 2019 Schedule

Wednesday, January (TBD), 2018 4:00–6:00 p.m., Location TBD
Jordache Ellapen, Ph.D. American Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington; M.A. Cinema Studies, New York University; M.A. Dramatic Art, University of the Witwatersrand; B.A. Dramatic Art, University of the Witwatersrand
Jordache A. Ellapen is an Assistant Professor of Feminist Studies in Culture and Media in the Women and Gender Studies Program in the Department of Historical Studies at UTM and holds a graduate appointment in the Women & Gender Studies Institute. His research interests focus primarily on the intersections between aesthetic practices, race and racial formations, and transgressive sexuality and erotics in the African and Indian diasporic contexts. His current research and publications theorize the relationships between cultural politics and political culture in South Africa and the diaspora.
He is also the 2018-2019 JHI-Mellon Early Career Faculty Fellow at the University of Toronto.
He is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively titled Against Afronormativity: Queering Afro-Asian Intimacies, Sticky Erotics, and the Aesthetics of Race in South Africa, which traces the ways in which brown (Indian/South Asian) and black women and queer South African artists employ abjection and erotics as a disruptive aesthetic strategy to critique the formation of new normativities of race, class, gender, sexuality, and erotics after 1994. By examining  a visual culture archive that includes film, photography, performance, and other fine art practices he argues that artist-activists mobilize “sticky erotics” to critique the linear and heteronormative underpinning of the post-apartheid nation and sanctioned form of blackness. Through the heuristic of “sticky erotics,” this book also traces counterintuitive forms of Afro-Indian intimacies in a context where the Indian is constantly produced as “alien-other” and therefore not entitled to “enjoy” the new nation, whilst heteronormative formations of blackness are mobilized to define the authentic national subject in the contemporary period. His research eschews disciplinary boundaries in a quest to produce new frameworks and methods to understand the production and intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and the erotic in the era of neoliberal capital.
His research and teaching focus on black and African feminist and queer studies, transnational sexuality studies, queer diaspora studies, and race and racial formations, particularly in the global South.
He teaches  classes on Queer Africa; Race, Sex, and Pleasure; Race and Visual Culture, focusing on black and African feminist and queer artists/aesthetics; Global Blackness and the African Diaspora; and African and Black American cinemas.
Before joining the faculty at the University of Toronto, Jordache A. Ellapen was assistant professor at the University of Oregon and postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of African and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He has also been the recipient of the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program, a Social Science Research Council Fellowship, and his practice-based research has been supported by the National Arts Council of South Africa.
More details will be available soon.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, April 10, 2019, 4:00–6:00 p.m. WI 2053, Wilson Hall, New College, 40 Willcocks Street
PhD degree and PhD collaborative specialization students in Women and Gender Studies present their doctoral research.