Sarah Carson (Department of Anthropology)
"Sisterhood" & Gender Discourses in Women's Political Candidate Training Programs
Presentation Abstract: Training and support programs designed specifically for women political candidates are increasingly influential as rising numbers of women of different races, classes, and political leanings run for office. Drawing from 16 months of ethnographic and interview-based research, I compare how U.S.-based Republican and Democratic candidate training program participants and leaders understand, strategize about, and promote women’s leadership in terms of gender identity and solidarity. What is the significance of “women” as an identity group, and who is included in and excluded from the “sisterhood?” Gender identity and pronoun variation is discussed by some interlocutors and trainers, but a binary understanding of gender inequality provides the organizing framework for advocates at both field sites. Program gender and leadership discourses at times both align and do not align with traditional partisan approaches to feminism and gender identity in how they emphasize women’s collective difference from or similarity to men. While the left side of the political spectrum was associated with equality feminism and its associated politics of gender sameness in the 1970s and 1980s, the Democratic training program now invokes a politics of gender difference in their approach to women’s leadership advocacy, which they are struggling to balance with policies welcoming nonbinary candidates.
Dahlia Li (Department of English)
"A Swirl of Silver, A Stretch of Cloth: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko and the Speciation of Black Viral Dance Technique."
This paper tracks the way Jaamil Olawale Kosoko's performance practice re-theorizes the capacities of the black dancing body. Drawing on Black feminist theories of performance and Black Marxist histories of media, this paper attends to Kosoko's strategic re-workings of notions of the erotic, mediality, and materiality. Kosoko's proposal for what dance, and specifically Black dance is, pushes against normative notions of embodied performance that circumscribe the work of relationality within existing forms of aesthetics and subjectivity. In modulating what we think the Black dancing body is, Kosoko's work, I argue, resconsiders common-sense experiences of boundary, space, and assembly to suggest different modes of diasporic assembly in the 21st century.