In the fall, the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men will take on a new theme and a new director. From “Animation and Gender,” the Fisher Center will shift its focus to “Engendering Crisis” under the guidance of incoming director Cedric Johnson, associate professor of political science.
With former Fisher Center director Betty Bayer, professor of women’s studies, stepping down from the position, Johnson was asked to lead the center after an across-the-board nomination was made by current members of the center’s Program Committee, former directors and the center’s Resource Committee.
“I’m looking forward to stretching myself in this new role on campus,” said Johnson. “I’ve done similar work during graduate school as the assistant director of the African American Leadership Institute in the University of Maryland’s James McGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, but it’ll be nice to add to that experience as a professor at Hobart and William Smith.”
Johnson added that, “I’m also looking forward to getting to know students, staff and faculty and people beyond campus, who are interested in and will surely have great insights about the Fisher Center. These are people who I may not have had contact with just serving as a professor.”
In his new role as director, Johnson and the center’s committees will tackle the tough issue of “Engendering Crisis” and crisis in general. “Most obviously, we’ll be dealing with the economic crisis in this region and more broadly as a national phenomenon – it’s certainly a timely subject,” Johnson explained. “But we’re also looking to explore crisis beyond that of macroeconomics. There are many scholars who are writing in different disciplines about the topic: it applies to gender studies and to the lives of ordinary people.”
To begin that multifaceted dialogue, Johnson and the Fisher Center will welcome Argentinean scholars Graciela Monteagudo, a human rights activist and community artist, and Marcelo Vieta, a social and communications researcher and technology theorist, on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
Monteagudo and Vieta will use their different fields of expertise to discuss how people responded to Argentina’s economic crisis in 2001, which left half of its population below the poverty line.
“Their lectures will also open another aspect of ‘crisis’ that we want to explore: the original Greek meaning of the word, which suggests crisis as not only a time of deep problems but also as a time of decisiveness and moment of opportunity as it was for Argentina to enact numerous popular movements to reinvigorate the economy,” Johnson said.
While the Fisher Center is currently finalizing the 2009-2010 speaker series line-up, the Center, in partnership with the religious studies department, has scheduled American philosopher Richard J. Berstein, Vera List Professor of Philosophy and former dean of the graduate faculty at The New School, to speak on campus on Thursday, Oct. 22. The following month on Wednesday, Nov. 11, the center will welcome Andrea Tone, Canada Research Chair in the Social History of Medicine and McGill University joint professor in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and the Department of History.
The Fisher Center was endowed with a $1 million gift from Emily and the late Richard Fisher, whose son Alexander graduated from Hobart College in 1993. Creation of the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men reflects a perfect intersection of the Colleges’ coordinate history and trends in the study of gender throughout academe.
Johnson, an associate professor of political science, teaches courses on American politics, inequality and urban politics. He is the author of “Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics” (University of Minnesota Press, 2007) which was awarded the 2008 W.E.B. DuBois Outstanding Book Award by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. A native of south Louisiana, he is currently editing a collection of essays on the politics of disaster and reconstruction in the Gulf Coast region titled, “The Neoliberal Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, Late Capitalist Culture and the Remaking of New Orleans.” Johnson’s writings have appeared in In These Times, Monthly Review and New Political Science. Johnson also serves on the planning committee for the Rochester Labor Lyceum.