In July, Assistant Professor of LGBT Studies Melissa Autumn White and her colleagues in the new collaborative network, Feminist Researchers Against Borders, hosted the first FRAB Summer School “Taster.” Held in Athens, Greece, the Summer School drew more than 30 participants from across Western Europe, Canada and the United States for two days of discussions among scholars, activists and artists around issues of mobility, migration and refugees.
Following the FRAB Summer School Taster, White and colleagues went on to the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration conference in Thessaloniki where they presented research on how policies related to the ongoing refugee crisis impact “differently marked populations,” including women and LGBTQ people racialized as “migrants” and “refugees.”
White participated in the panel “Feminist Researchers Against Borders: Reframing Debates on Mobility, ‘Refugees,’ and ‘Crisis,’” a discussion that employed “feminist, intersectionally informed theorizations of crisis” to “decenter both Western imaginations of the ‘refugee’ and territorially bounded categories of citizenship.”
“Our collaborative work as the FRAB pack challenges the dominant ways that what has come to be called ‘the refugee crisis’ has been framed,” says White, who sees “policies, militarized borders and logics of austerity” as creating “patterns of mobility and immobility” for groups “racialized as potential threats and/or prioritized as desirable recipients of care. Across our various projects we argue for the practical possibilities of no borders futures as a means of achieving more just social relations beyond the nation-state.”
White also presented work from her manuscript in progress at the IASFM conference. “Stranger Intimacies: Private LGBTQ+ Refugee Sponsorship Beyond Humanitarianism and State Logics,” offered an examination of how private sponsorship has evolved into a key tool for resettlement for LGBTQ refugees in Canada, and theorized how it might become a site of politicization for more broadly challenging the nation-state’s strict control over borders.
White joined the faculty in 2015 as the first full-time, tenure track assistant professor in the LGBT Studies Department, which was founded in 2002 as the first of its kind in the U.S. Prior to joining HWS, White taught at McGill University and the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, following a postdoctoral fellowship at Syracuse University and New York University’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.
White published her first book, an anthology co-edited with Liz Montegary titled “Mobile Desires: The Politics and Erotics of Mobility Justice” in 2015. Her recent publications can be found in Women’s Studies in Communication; Feminist Studies; Women’s Studies Quarterly; Radical History Review; Sexualities; and Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, as well as a number of edited collections.
Previously vice chair of the Sexuality Studies Association, White is co-founder of Feminist Researchers Against Borders, as well as a co-founder and former co-chair of the Gender, Women’s, and Feminist Studies Ph.D. Interest Group at the National Women’s Studies Association.