Honors and Research Presentations – Spring 2009

Emily Gastineau ’09
Moving Between Objects: The Body and Subjectivity in Contemporary Dance

This process-driven thesis works between the fields of performance studies, dance studies, and feminist studies to explore the relationship between the body and subjectivity in contemporary dance, reconceptualizing movement as a political tactic. This paper documents the two performance pieces that I choreographed as part of my research, and also works with feminist/queer theory and the visual arts to investigate how technique and perception can be used to disorganize the body, multiply the subject, and resist the solidification of power. My practice endows the body with the capacity to theorize through movement and to continually exceed its fixed boundaries.

Kayoua Vang ’09
Reproductive Rights and Women of Color: History, Strategies, & Suggestions for Integration

This research aims to bring forth the efforts of women of color in the reproductive rights movement, a discourse originally centered on legalizing abortion, with a focus on the successful strategies that broadened the agenda to this day. The basis of legality was only set to undermine accessibility, in which the right to chose an abortion is a privilege to some rather than a right accessible to all. Thus, pro-choice strategies have not reflected an understanding of rights and access, and instead focused primarily on the legal right to abortion. Conversely, reproductive rights was not at all about abortion rights for women of color, including poor women, but significantly about the right to bear children and have the economic means to support them to full health. This research also explores obstacles, such as population control and the Hyde Amendment, and certain strategies, such as emphasis on health care and sterilization reform, that expanded the reproductive rights movement. This research further suggests implications for integration among predominantly white organizations and women of color movements to build a future for a stronger and more effective agenda that encompasses the needs of all women.

Sarah Welch ’09
Explorations in Personalizing Feminist/Queer Methodologies: Feeding Our Academic/Artistic/Activist Selves Inside and Outside the Academy

This paper stems out of my preoccupations and personal identifications with social science research methodologies and creative writing. My goal throughout this project, as I conducted a series of interviews with my Senior Seminar classmates and reflected on the breadth of my research, classroom, reading and writing experience over the last four years, was to explore the political possibilities and political value of creating individualized feminist/queer methodologies grounded in personal experience and identification. The paper itself is an exercise in working within my own budding methodological matrix. It highlights some of the endless possibilities embedded in the interdiscipline, and explores the way that we as feminist/queer thinkers can strategically conduct our scholarship and craft, and strategically move through the world.

Caolfionn Yenney ’09
Re-envisioning Tragedy: A Comparative Analysis of Gender and Madness in Three Twentieth Century Operas

This comparative analysis of three twentieth-century operas – Berg’s Wozzeck, Britten’s Peter Grimes, and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District – traces their respective discourses of gender and madness, specifically within the dramatization (musical and otherwise) of their title characters. Of the three, Wozzeck, because it adheres to strict gender roles, has been received most uniformly as a tragedy; by contrast, Lady Macbeth is traditionally viewed in terms of satire. I argue that feminist musicological analysis allows for a re-envisioning of all three operas, in which the characters are received as tragic regardless of subverting societally enforced gender categories.

Honors and Research Presentations – Spring 2008

Alexandra Douglas ’08
La Cara de Puta: Transnational Reflections on International Trafficking Discourse

My presentation provides a genealogy of the international sex trafficking discourse, as defined juridically through the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, annotating how the category and definition of “sex trafficking” emerged from multiple articulations of race, sexuality, and migration. By then providing comparative examples of how trafficking and sex work are conceptualized within the sociopolitical infrastructures of three distinct locations–St.Paul/Minnneapolis, San Francisco, and Cochabamba–I will demonstrate how trafficking, as defined in international discourse, both has its historical roots in the west and continues to serve as a method of (neo)colonial control.

Allison MacWilliams-Brooks ’08
Imagined Bridges: Welfare Rights Collaboration between Women of Color and the LGBT Community in Minnesota

Women of color and LGBT individuals share a history of social welfare policy discrimination, yet scholars rarely examine how activist coalitions influence the direction of contemporary welfare policy. Considering the recently increased importance of state-level welfare policymaking, this project investigates the extent to which coalition-building among such communities explains the path of Minnesota’s welfare policies. Drawing upon interviews with women’s rights activists, LGBT activists, and state legislators, this study demonstrates that organizational collaboration is constrained and welfare rights issues often fail to generate action. Improving Minnesota’s welfare program will require balancing groups’ organizing priorities with the interests of their most disadvantaged members.

Honors and Research Presentations – Spring 2007

Christina Brux ’07
From Theory to Practice in Postmodern Times: Female Genital Operations as a Catalyst for Interrogating Imperial Feminisms and Decolonizing Transnational Feminist Politics

While centered in a critique of Western feminist discourses of non-Western female genital operations and motivated by a desire to envision decolonization strategy, this project explores what it means, given histories and realities of imperialisms and long-standing hierarchies between and among women, to speak about transnational topics of women and gender. This project considers how we might participate in the shared feminist responsibility of recognizing colonial histories and realities, rectifying imperialisms between women and across nations, rejecting feminist master narratives, celebrating diverse subjectivities, and dismantling each and every binary that has been constructed between the “First” and “Third” worlds.

Nikki Giardina ’07
Civilization in a Microwave – And Other Metaphors for Modern Education’s Queer Survivors

The project engages with the spiraling sexual residues of modern systems of power. As modern power is always mutually contingent upon the feelings and sensations of subjects themselves, I use a framework of sex education to consider the simultaneous and multiple constructions of subjective desire and knowledge circulation. Through a feminist, poststructuralist, and queer theoretical lens, I examine the (re)formation of the modern subject’s sexuality—the bricks and mortar of modern power and society—within the Enlightenment, the United States Progressive Era, and contemporary theory. Within these strange historical imbrications, the modern subject can be seen as an ambiguous victim/survivor of sexual trauma; always in possession of a queer gaze into its own pain and pleasure. Working playfully and seriously with the tools of the subject’s abjection toward the hope of healing, I attempt to transgress binaries, thereby destabilizing—without resisting—narratives of healing, history, and subject-formation.

Graham Turner ’07
Bound Together: Lesbian and Gay S/M During the Sex Wars and Contemporary Feminist Practice/Expression in Queer/Gay Men’s BDSM

This project focuses on contemporary Queer/Gay Men’s BDSM and tracing some of its genealogical roots back to Lesbian S/M during the sex wars. The project seeks to delineate how Lesbian and Gay S/M were in conversation during this period in feminist discourse and how the discourses at the time can be traced to the present day. Considering this history, I seek to demonstrate that contemporary Queer/Gay BDSM grounds its sexual practice within a feminist understanding of consent and the exchange of power.

Performance by …
Liz Corry Kamerer ’07, Mik Kinkead ’07, and Kristen Stoeckeler ’07
Village People’s “Macho Man”

Liz Corry Kamerer, Mik Kinkead, and Kristen Stoeckeler* perform nationally as part of the collective drag troupe the TransFormers, formerly the Kings of Ramsey County. They are also majors in Womens, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and their pieces are influenced greatly by feminist and queer thinking. All their pieces are based in a post-drag aesthetic of disidentifying and ridiculing power structures that help to construe the ableist white patriarchal heteronormative binaristic capitalistic hegemony they rage against on a daily basis (sometimes). The piece performed for this WGSS Honors presentation is the Village People’s “Macho Man” which began as a deconstruction of US imperialism linking the “conquering of the west” to the war in Iraq. However, after critiques, the piece morphed into what will be performed today – a more direct commentary about white masculinity and nationalism. *under the guise of Vincent Cash, Mik Danger, and Dickie Van Dyke.

Honors and Research Presentations – Spring 2006

Andrea M. Bronson ’06
The Myth of Mary and Women’s Rights in Twentieth Century Postcolonial Ireland

This project applies Roland Barthes’ theories about mythologies to Irish women’s reproductive rights. The sexuality and reproductive rights of women in twentieth century postcolonial Ireland have been severely limited by the relationship between the Irish government and the Catholic Church, specifically by the combination of Catholic ideology concerning sexuality and motherhood, and the fierce nationalism valued by the successes of a collective Ireland more than the wellbeing of individuals. The analysis covers mythologies about women, how such mythologies have influenced social policy, reproductive rights and the feminist movement after the 1970s and feminist forms of resistance through academic studies and the arts.

Megan R. Nishikawa ’06
A Third Wave Revisitation of Selected Works of Virginia Woolf and Zora Neale Hurston

This exploration of selected texts from renowned authors Virginia Woolf and Zora Neale Hurston differs from traditional analyses in proposing that these works are precursory thought to the later social movement known as Third Wave Feminism. Hurston and Woolf lived and wrote in the early twentieth century, while the Third Wave emerged in the early nineties. Third Wave ideology uses intersectionality, which called for a simultaneous consideration of factors such as gender, race, and class to name a few. Woolf and Hurston’s works both indicate a desire to employ intersectionality to advocate social change and self-actualization.

Research Presentions – Spring 2005

Grace Zaiman – ’05
Exploring Transformative Potential within the White Identity Collective

In my work I explore how the white identity collective might provide space for productive conversation about white participation in anti-racist work. Looking at conversations from within and around the white identity collective, I address ways in which the space might be problematic and, using feminist and critical race theory, attempt to offer ways in which the problems raised in this space might serve not to immobilize white students but instead to further investigation of white race identity and investment in white privilege. In response to concerns raised by myself and other students, I want to move investment in anti-racist work out of an incentive-based framework and into a context that racializes and de-centers white identity in hopes of denaturalizing experience of privilege. By invoking Adrienne Rich’s notion of “productive silence” I assert that within the conversations yet to be had there lies potential for a new way of understanding/performing white race identity.

Mikey McNamara – ’05
Contagion and Containment: Managing Bodies in the Time of AIDS

This presentation explores changing notions of citizenship following the consequences of the AIDS epidemic in the United States over the course of the past two decades. In the name of public health, HIV prevention measures enacted by governments, at both the federal and municipal levels, create and construct certain communities and identities as ‘bodies at risk’ for disease. This paper explores how these discursive productions rest upon the racialized, sexualized and classed identities of certain groups who become conceived as ‘at risk’ in relation to both their selves and society.

Examining two case studies–the detainment of HIV-positive Haitian refugees at Guantanamo Bay in the early nineties and the closing of gay bathhouses in New York and San Francisco in the mid-eighties–this presentation will ask the questions: who is considered a citizen and who is a ‘risk’ to the public through discourses of health in the time of AIDS? In contrast, an example of a community-based HIV prevention program will offer an alternative to such exclusionary models and establish one based rather in empowerment. Detailing my own experiences volunteering at AccessWorks!, a needle-exchange program in Minneapolis, I will discuss both the difficulties of engaging harm reduction prevention models and the possibilities of creating alliances across differences.

Eliza Schrader – ’05
(Re)crossings: Transgression in Film, Queer Organizing, and the Classroom

It can be said that what was once considered transgression becomes diminished and domesticated. It can also be said that transgressions re-confirm the power of the norm they attempt to cross (Georges Bataille, 1897-1962). Then what is the impact and importance of such (re)crossings today? To find some answers about the potential of transgressions, I visit 3 local scenarios: The Flaming Film Festival, Macalester College’s Queer Union, and a Macalester writing classroom. Putting the theories of Bataille, Diana Fuss and Michel Foucault into conversation, I argue that transgression serves the purpose of potentially altering the very norm that its existence validates. In doing so, context-specific versions of norm and transgression are continually destabilized, although this binary never disappears.

Rina Rossi – ’05
Exploring Food, Identities, Privilege, and Power with the Youth Farm and Market Project, or ‘Organic food makes me sick!’

This presentation will discuss my adventures in theorizing the pitfalls and potentials of producing feminist, multicultural, and sustainable communities with the Youth Farm and Market Project…over a row of tomatoes and fresh-picked papalo. Sustainable agriculture in its many discursive forms is growing rapidly across the Twin Cities and around the U.S. Failing food cooperatives stand on semi-stable ground, farmers’ markets are being revitalized, community-supported agriculture projects are expanding, and local organic food is the new bourgeois thing to eat. The main goal for the more political of these agricultural activists and organizers is to set up an alternative food system that challenges corporate, industrial agribusinesses that are perceived as exploitative, unjust, and destructive. It sounds like a noble project. However, I have come to view sustainable agriculture somewhat more critically, after my two years of experience with the diverse group of youth at the Youth Farm and Market Project, as well as my academic immersions in American Studies and Women and Gender Studies. Where I stand now, it seems clear that there are many potential connections that can be made between sustainable agriculture, critical feminisms and models of multiculturalism. However, there remain substantial obstacles preventing these exercises in bridge building.

Student and Community Collaborative

Véronique Bergeron – ’07
Planned Parenthood

Véronique has been working with Planned Parenthood’s Escort Program for several months, and during that time it has become clear to her that the surrounding community of Highland Park is privy to a very deeply rooted and highly contested political battle. As an escort, she has witnessed first-hand the racism and classism with which many protesters have approached their jobs, and have recognized that Planned Parenthood can do a lot to mobilize the surrounding community in service that promotes white antiracist activism while simultaneously promoting free speech and women’s agency. She has made a few suggestions for employees and volunteers of the clinic to create a space where violence and racism do not equate to activism and where community links become a tangible force on the clinic’s behalf. Abby Woodworth and Alissa Ridenour will also be contributing to this presentation, along with Planned Parenthood employee Elyse Phillips.

Marie Herwig ’05
East Side Neighborhood Development Company

The East Side Neighborhood Development Company (ESNDC) is a non-profit organization committed to creating a prosperous muti-racial neighborhood on St Paul’s East Side through housing development, commercial development and community organizing. Currently I am working on the Payne/Phalen Redevelopment program, helping East Side families find affordable home improvement loans, as well as coordinating the Life Skills Education Training program, which provides free seminars to help residents recognize money saving strategies, community resources available, and opportunities for possible home ownership. Courteney Roessler works with ESNDC through the John A. Johnson elementary school where she is a case manager. Our discussion will include:

A breakdown of the housing needs on the East Side and how it affects the students at the school A summary of how the Life Skills Education Training program hopes to contribute to the prosperity of the community Ways in which Macalester students can become involved in such a diverse community and make a direct impact, such as through teaching ESL courses

Aaron Brosier – ’07

Aaron has spent the last semester working with Michael Lee at PrideAlive doing HIV prevention organizing. PrideAlive is a queer men’s group that is dedicated to HIV prevention through building social connections and community involvement. As part of his collaborative work with PrideAlive, Aaron has been researching the effects of abstinence-only federal policies as they affect HIV prevention efforts. The public scholarship paper he has written as part of his work with PrideAlive and, through Scott Morgensen’s class “Local/Global Sexual Politics”, explores the effects of abstinence-only policies as they affect HIV prevention efforts, especially their effects on queer men of color.