Fisher Center Adds Research Group – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Fisher Center Adds Research Group

During the 2012-2013 academic year, the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men will implement the Fisher Center Research Fellows Program, which will bring together an interdisciplinary research group comprised of HWS faculty members who will study an array of topics across several subject areas. Faculty members include: Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Christopher Annear, Associate Professor of Religious Studies Etin Anwar, Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture Christine Chin, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Hannah Dickinson and William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Economics Christopher Gunn.

“This new structure will strengthen the Fisher Center’s presence on campus by making gender-based investigation and discussion part of an ongoing and sustained research program,” explains Professor of Political Science Jodi Dean, who will next year serve as the director of Fisher Center and a member of the Center’s Research Group. “By involving HWS faculty and area independent scholars in the fellow program, collaborative gender-based research will be more systematically integrated into: the HWS curriculum through the courses the fellows teach on campus; the HWS and Finger Lakes community through public presentations; and, the community beyond HWS through papers, films, performances, and other creative and scholarly works.”

Each research fellow will receive a stipend to study a project that touches on this year’s topic, “Gender, Collectivity, and the Common.” Additionally, the fellows will meet regularly to discuss their research on a common theme with each fellow presenting her or his work to the broader community.  

“The Fisher Center Faculty Research Fellows will work together to bring out the gendered dimensions of collectivity, the common, and the commons,” says a statement from the members of the Fisher Center Steering Committee. “By focusing on gender, the fellows will work to unravel assumptions regarding for whom some things are abundant and by whom some things are rendered scarce.”

The Fisher Center will also be welcoming Fisher Center Pre-Doctoral Fellow Alex Pittman, a Doctor of Philosophy Candidate in Performance Studies at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Pittman’s dissertation, “Dispossessive Acts: Space, the Body, and Other Properties,” moves across a range of aesthetic objects, all of which mediate and index crises of gendered and sexual divisions labor, in order to chart a series of intersections between critiques of capitalism and critiques of subjectivity.

His research approaches these intersections, however, not immediately in the commons but in its seeming negation, its late capitalist other: dispossession. Pittman draws from and re-poses the insights of critical imaginaries like feminism, queer theory, and critical race theory, all of which help mediate the questions of pleasure and pain, domination and resistance, and exploitation and subversion that make up the problem of dispossession.

During the fall semester, Pittman will teach “Senses of the Commons,” a course that will introduce students to a range of theories, practice, and aesthetics of social cooperation, with a particular focus on the contributions of feminist, queer, and anti-racist scholarship to field this field. He is currently completing his PhD in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University.  Since 2008, he has been a member of the editorial collective of Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory. 

Outside scholars will also visit during the course of the semester to lend their expertise as they work with the research group in addition to giving a public presentation and visiting on-campus classes.

Annear’s project will focus on the “sexual parallelism” of men and women’s lives (the seemingly separate lives) in the Luapula Valley. He joined the HWS faculty in 2011 and holds a B.A. in cultural anthropology from Hampshire College, and a master’s and Ph.D in sociocultural anthropology from Boston University.

Anwar will examine the ways that the Western concept of gender equality changes its meaning and roles once male policy makers use it as an instrument of developmentalism. She will also look at the ways in which the dissemination of gender mainstreaming paves the way to the commonality of Islamic feminism. Anwar joined the faculty in 2006. She received her bachelor’s degree in comparative religion from the State Institute for Islamic  Studies in Bandung, Indonesia, earned her master’s in Islamic studies from McGill University, and went on to receive her Ph.D. in philosophy, interpretation and culture from SUNY Binghamton, where she also received a certificate in feminist theory.

Chin will look at which adaptations will allow the world to function as it experiences climate change, overpopulation, and general overstimulation. She joined the faculty in 2008 and holds a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.F.A. from the University of New Mexico. A member of the College Art Association and the Society for Photographic Education, Chin has conducted research on a variety of subjects, including genetically modified foods, alternative energy and women’s studies. 

Dickinson will examine the quotidian conceptualizations of violence revealed by students’ talk in interviews by analyzing the writing of students who describe violence as an ordinary aspect of their lives. Joining the faculty in 2011, Dickinson has a bachelor’s from Haverford College, a master’s from The City College of New York and a Ph.D. in English and education from the University of Michigan, where she also received a certificate in women’s studies. 

Gunn will work on a case study of a successful workers’ cooperative that is committed to its role as a fair-trade importer of food products. He will extend the research to include additional workers’ cooperatives. Joining the faculty in 1979, Gunn has a B.S. from Cornell, a licentiate degree from Louvain and a M.B.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Established in 1998, the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men brings together faculty, students, and experts in gender-related fields in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary society. For more information, visit