Fisher Center 2016: No Place Like Home – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Fisher Center 2016: No Place Like Home

When millions of people are seeking refuge, what does “home” signify and for whom? What does “home” mean in terms of the movement and place, of bodies, space, mobility, and belonging?

Through the theme “No Place Like Home,” the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men will consider these questions and others through a series of lectures this fall, exploring the diverse productions of and investments in “home.”

The series began on Tuesday, Sept. 6, with a participatory workshop, “Our Schools: Building an Anti-Bias Classroom,” led by Stephanie Kenific ’17. A 2016 Woodworth Fellow, Kenific offered her first public presentation of her ongoing Honors work, which seeks to reshape the Common Core Learning Curriculum to serve anti-racist and feminist principles in the context of a ninth-grade English classroom. Attendees engaged in critical discussion regarding language, race, and radical education. A model fish-bowl conversation with HWS students activated Kenific’s curriculum and provided a model for action-based intergroup dialogue in the classroom. The workshop was held in the Community Room of the Geneva Public Library.

The series continues on Wednesday, Sept. 28, with “You Can’t Fix a Broken Foundation: Black Women’s Housing in the 1970s,” a talk by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University. Taylor is the author of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.” In the words of Cornel West, “This brilliant book is the best analysis we have of the #BlackLivesMatter moment of the long struggle for freedom in America. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has emerged as the most sophisticated and courageous radical intellectual of her generation.”

Taylor’s talk will draw from her work in progress, “Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis of the 1970s,” which looks at the federal government’s promotion of single-family homeownership in Black communities after the urban rebellions of the 1960s. She considers the impact of the turn to market-based solutions on Black neighborhoods, Black women on welfare, and emergent discourses on the urban “underclass.” Taylor’s talk will be held at 7 p.m. in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.

Frank B. Wilderson III, professor of Drama and African American Studies at University of California at Irvine, joins the series on Wednesday, Oct. 26, bringing his experience as an award-winning writer, activist, and critical theorist to bear on the theme of “home.” Wilderson spent five and a half years in South Africa, where he was one of two Americans to have held an elected office in the African National Congress (ANC) during the country’s transition from apartheid. He also worked clandestinely as a member of the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK).

In 1995, a South African journalist informed Wilderson that President Nelson Mandela considered him “a threat to national security.” Wilderson was asked to comment. The book “Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid” is that “comment.” “Incognegro” received the American Book Award, the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award, the Eisner Prize for Creative Achievement of the Highest Order, and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship.

Wilderson is also the author of a book on cinema, politics, and race: “Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms” (Duke University Press, 2010). His poetry, creative prose, critical, and film production are predicated on the notion that slavery did not end in 1865; the United States simply made adjustments to the force of Black resistance without diminishing the centrality of Black captivity to the stability and coherence of civil society. This assumptive logic has helped catalyze a new school of thought in the academy and beyond, called Afro-Pessimism. His talk will begin at 7 p.m. in the Fisher Center.

In “Labor of Love: Social Reproduction and the Politics of Care,” Premilla Nadasen examines the concept of the “caring economy,” which has often been used to describe the labor of social reproduction — both paid and unpaid labor in the home. She will examine the politics of care in the movement for household workers’ rights in the 1970s and how it erased rather than highlighted the artificial distinction between work inside and outside the home. Her talk begins at 7 p.m. in the Fisher Center on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

An associate professor of history at Barnard College and a scholar-activist who writes and speaks on issues of race, gender, social policy and labor history, Nadasen is most interested in visions of social change, and the ways in which poor and working-class people, especially women of color, have fought for social justice.  She has published extensively on the multiple meanings of feminism, alternative labor movements, and grass-roots community organizing.  She is the author of the award-winning “Welfare Warriors,” which documents the welfare rights movement claim to a basic minimum income in the 1960s. Her most recent book is “Household Workers Unite” (Beacon 2015), a history of domestic worker activism in the post-war period.

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, Trinh T. Minh-ha, professor of Rhetoric and Gender and Women’s Studies at Berkeley, will deliver final Fisher Center talk of the fall semester. Trinh is a prize-winning filmmaker, writer, and composer who has made eight films and authored 14 books, including “Lovecidal: Walking with the Disappeared” (2016), “Vernacular Architecture in West Africa: A World” (2011), “Elsewhere, Within Here: Immigration, Refugeeism and The Boundary Event” (2010), and “Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism” (1989).

For her Fisher Center presentation, Trinh will screen her new 2015 film, “Forgetting Vietnam.” Vietnam relies on a fragile equilibrium between land and water. Carrying the histories of both visual technology and Vietnam’s political reality, the film features the encounter between the ancient as related to the solid earth, and the new as related to the liquid changes in a time of rapid globalization. In conversation with these two parts is a third space, that of historical and cultural re-memory — or what local inhabitants, immigrants and veterans remember of yesterday’s stories to comment on today’s events. Through the insights of these witnesses to one of America’s most divisive wars,

Vietnam’s specter and her contributions to world history remain both present and all too easy to forget. Touching on a trauma of international scale, “Forgetting Vietnam” is made in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the end of the war and of its survivors.

Founded in 1998, the Fisher Center 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.