Conference Wrap-ups

In April, I went to two conferences and presented on two different projects that I’m passionate about. I got some great feedback on both projects, or during the process of writing/presenting/answering questions I realized some venues for further research and writing.

At the Roundtable of Latina Feminisms, I presented about literary depictions of girlhood in the El Paso-Juarez Feminicide. First of all, the Roundtable was amazing. It was such a warm and productive environment and I heard so many papers and discussions that opened my eyes to books I need to read, questions I hadn’t considered, and deeper ways to think about the questions central to my work. I have pages and pages of notes, but the most enduring part of the weekend was how revitalized I felt in my work. The energy was so supportive and collegial that, as a graduate student,  engaging with faculty and scholar-activists helped push me forward. We also heard a speaker from HOLA, a grassroots organization working to fight deportations and keep families together. The talk was so inspiring and heartbreaking. It was the first time I cried at an academic conference.

In response to my paper, the most feedback I received was about the conclusion of my paper in which I discuss work that has been done with critical pedagogy in Juarez. I’m working on revising the paper to submit to journals. After that, however, I’m going to look further into foundational texts for critical pedagogy, including Pedagogy of the Oppressed (How have I not read it before?!). It was suggested to me that working more critically with violence and pedagogy, in order to think of ways to teach about violence without producing trauma, especially for students who may have been victims of violence, would be a really productive project. It was like a lightning bolt, connecting many of the trends and texts that I am interested in. So, if you know more about this issue, please do tell!

At the Gender Matters Conference in Chicago, I discussed Girl Up and inclusive feminism. It was a pretty small (tiny) session, which meant that I got to answer more questions. So, yay!

Analyzing movements such as Girl Up is my biggest and most longterm project. Universal education, especially girls’ education, is getting a lot of buzz right now, which could be a mixed blessing. On one hand, I think the attention is awesome and hopefully spurs real change. On the other hand, during the conferences and speeches centered on the UN Millennial Development Goals a couple months ago, I read a piece by Gordon Brown that suggested that change and support are actually plateauing. My concern, then, is that rather than promoting lasting change and support, the cause will become a fad and fade away.

As I continue my work, I think my biggest limitation right now is my relative outsider position. While in some ways that enables me to be more objective and critical, it’s also frustrating and could limit the reach of my perspective. I’m working on getting on the Girl Rising Grassroots Team. (Remember, Girl Rising airs on CNN on June 16th at 9 pm EST! More info) I’m also working on figuring out if/how I can volunteer for the Girl Up Leadership Summit and/or the Girl 20 Summit next summer. I’d pick up pizzas if it meant I was able to observe the sessions and possibly interview participants.

Dear Kasey, For now:

Anyway, I’m excited about my research and the opportunity that summer presents for working on things with more focus and at my own pace. Thanks for reading!

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