Friday, October 13, 2017

Brighton-Allston Historical Society sponsoring Women & Domestic Service in 19th Century Boston & New England!

We are pleased to announce that our UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate the Brighton-Allston Historical Society will be sponsoring an event entitled: "Slaving for Others' Wants: Women & Domestic Service in Nineteenth-Century Boston & New England." The speaker will be Professor Carolyn R. Maibor who has a PhD from Brandeis University and specializes in Early through 19th-century American Literature & Philosophy, and Literary Theory & Gender Studies. She has published numerous books and articles, including on the history and literature of servitude.

Carolyn's talk will take place on Thursday, October 26th, 2017 at 7pm at the Brighton Allston Congregational Church, 404 Washington Street, Brighton Center, Massachusetts 02135. Do spread the word!

See the event flyer with further details below.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friends of Faneuil Library Newest Affiliate of our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network!

Exciting news: we have a new Affiliate, the Friends of Faneuil Library (FOFL)/Boston Public Library! We're thrilled to have another vibrant educational entity in our midst, one with enormous community outreach and interaction. More at:

A message from the FOFL President, Maria Rodrigues:

As President of the Friends of the Faneuil Branch Library and in the name of the FOFL Executive Board I want to express our excitement about initiating our partnership with the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network. Similar to the members of the Network, the FOFL are committed to promoting cultural and educational opportunities with the goals of fostering community and the value of diversity. We look forward to a long and enriching cooperation.

From the FOFL bylaws:

The Faneuil Library Branch in action:

On the occasion of the annual Funky Auction to support the Faneuil Library's activities:
at left, Maria Rodrigues, President of the Friends of Faneuil Library;
at right, State Senator (and Auctioneer!) Will Brownsberger

At the Funky Auction June 3rd 2017:
at right, Faneuil Branch Librarian, Dorothy Keller;
at left, Ronni Komarow, Faneuil Gallery Coordinator;
at far left, Representative Kevin Honan with Mike O'Hara of the 57 Readers & Writers

For more information on the Friends of the Faneuil Library see:

and for activities of the Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library visit:

Congratulations to Raffi Freedman-Gurspan on her latest award!

On September 28th, 2017 BAGLY honored "the legendary Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the first trans woman to ever work for the White House and alumna of the The Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth."

Left to right: Mason Dunn, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition; Marion Freedman-Gurspan; Raffi Freedman-Gurspan; Carl Sciortino, currently Executive Director of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts; Stan Freedman-Gurspan (photo credit BAGLY, Inc.)

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan of our Boston University WGS community earlier made history as the first openly transgender official at the White House. Raffi served as Senior Associate Director for Public Engagement and Outreach and as Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel at the White House, with President Barack Obama.

Raffi worked early in her career until mid-2011 as Course and Research Assistant with Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney at BU/WGS (Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program) in the arena of Gender and International Development. Raffi's primary interests over the years have included public policy making, minority and indigenous peoples' rights, and gender equality matters.

More on the BAGLY (Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Youth) ceremony honoring Raffi at:

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Message from WGS Director Cati Connell on Program Publications & Events!

Photo: WGS/BU
Here are some announcements from the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program!

- Associate Professor Keith Vincent (World Languages and Literature & WGS) participated in a “translation slam” during the PEN World Voices Festival in New York in May, where he went head-to-head with fellow translator Janine Beichman to translate a poem by the feminist poet Hiromi Ito, who offered her commentary on the translations. Together with Catherine Yeh of BU’s Center for the Study of Asia, Vincent has organized a symposium to take place this October 12 & 13 on “Haiku as World Literature.” The website for the symposium, with titles and abstracts, can be found here: With help from a former student, he has also digitized 145 back issues of a Japanese journal devoted to research on Masaoka Shiki, which can now be found on Open BU.
- Assistant Professor Christopher Schmitt (Anthropology, Biology, & WGS) spent the summer studying vervet monkeys in South Africa, where he also presented research at the Primate Evolution and Genetics Group conference in Blyde Canyon. He has had two papers recently accepted for publication in the journal Nature Genetics - one on genetic variation and gene expression across developmental stages in vervet monkeys, and another on population adaptations to simian immunodeficiency virus in wild vervets. He will serve as discussant for the upcoming American Anthropological Association Roundtable “Anthropology Matters: Fighting essentialist ideas about poverty, race, and intelligence in the Trump Era.”
- Associate Professor Carrie Preston’s (English & WGS) book, Learning to Kneel: Noh, Modernism, and Journeys in Teaching (Columbia University Press, 2016) was a finalist for the Modernist Studies Association (MSA) book prize.
- Professor Linda McClain (BU Law & WGS) was a Laurence S. Rockefeller Visiting Faculty Fellow at Princeton’s Center for Human Values in 2016. She also signed a contract with Oxford for her upcoming book, Bigotry, Conscience, and Marriage: Past and Present Controversies and will be presenting at a conference titled Fifty Years of Loving v. Virginia and the Continued Pursuit of Racial Equality on November 3, 2017.
- WGS will be co-sponsoring this year’s BU Eve Sedgwick Memorial Lecture, given this year by Dean Spade on March 29, 2018.
- Associate Professor Catherine Connell (Sociology & WGS) published two articles about her current research on gender and sexuality policy change in the US military: one in the journal Sexualities titled "Different Than An Infantry Unit Down In Georgia’: Metronormativity in the Homophobia Narratives of Boston Area ROTC Cadets” and another in Sociology Compass called "Now That We Can Ask and Tell: The Social Movement Legacy of the DADT Repeal”. She also published another article in Sociological Forum titled "Contesting Racialized Discourses of Homophobia”.
- Assistant Professor Yoon Sun Yang (World Languages and Literatures & WGS) published her first book, From Domestic Women to Sensitive Young Men: Translating the Individual in Early Colonial Korea in July 2016 (Harvard University Press).
- Barbara Gottfried (WGS) presented a paper titled “No Holds Barred: Millennial Provocations in Women’s Stand-Up Comedy” at The Seventeenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders, and Sexualities, June 2, 2017 at Hofstra University.
- Assistant Professor Anthony Petro (Religion & WGS) published an article titled "Ray Navarro's Jesus Camp, AIDS Activist Video, and the 'New Anti-Catholicism'" in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.
- Associate Professor Ashley Mears published an article from her fieldwork on modeling in Russia in the journal Poetics called "Locating local knowledge in global networks: Scouting in fashion and football”.
- Assistant Professor Ashley Farmer’s (History, African American Studies, and WGS) new book, Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era (UNC Press), will be out on November 13th.
- WGS held a roundtable discussion on the legal, structural, and stigma-related restrictions on reproductive justice with BU faculty members Bayla Ostrich (Medical Anthropology & Cross Cultural Practice, School of Medicine), Khiara Bridges (BU Law & Anthropology), and special guest Professor Carol Sanger (Columbia Law) on April 3, 2017.
- Sarah Ihmoud (Post-doc in Anthropology & WGS) had a paper accepted for publication in the forthcoming issue of Cultural Anthropology. Co-authored with a collective of feminist anthropologists, the paper examines field researchers' experiences with racialized, gendered forms of violence. Sarah will be participating in a roundtable at the upcoming American Anthropological Association annual meeting on "Sexual Violence in Anthropology" hosted by the Association for Feminist Anthropology. She will also be presenting a film installation at the upcoming NWSA meeting titled "Moving Towards Home: The Feminist Imaginary from Palestine to M4BL”.   
- Assistant Professor Jennie Row published an article in the ASAP/Journal special issue on "Queer Form" about the Versailles sculptures of Jean-Michel Othoniel, early modern dance, and embodiment/anality. Another article, "Queer Time on the Early Modern Stage: France and the Drama of Biopower" appeared in the journal Exemplaria: Medieval, Early Modern,Theory. She was a 2016-17 Solmsen Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she also organized a colloquium on "Show and Tell: Evidence, Erotics, and Embodiment in the Premodern World" at Madison. This year, she will continue her work as an alumna ambassador recruiting under-represented minority scholars for the Andover Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers, a program that encourages diversity in higher education. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Trilingual Book Edited by Assistant Director of the Humphrey Fellowship Program, Cyrus Konstantinakos, Published!

From our UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate, the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program at Boston University:

In July 2017, The ABCs of Chamorro was published. It's a trilingual photo-essay book that introduces one cultural topic for every letter of the Chamorro alphabet. The project was supported by School of Education at BU, the U.S. Department of Education, University of Guam and Guam Legislature. The book has been featured in USA Today, Pacific Daily News, and a book on multilingualism produced by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

According to Cyrus:

A couple of gender notes on Chamorro culture: The Chamorro creation myth describes how celestial siblings—a brother and sister—interdependently created the world and everything in it. Also, traditional Chamorro culture is matrilineal; people's names, social positions and wealth were all inherited through the mother's side of the family.

Congratulations to Cyrus and the Chamorro Studies students at the University of Guam!

Photo courtesy of the Humphrey Fellowship Program/BU

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

You are invited: Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) Exhibition Opening July 20th cosponsored by BU WGS's UNESCO/UNITWIN!


UVA Exhibition, Crossings Gallery at the Harvard Ed Portal, Allston July 20 - Aug. 22, 2017
Free Opening Kick-off Thursday July 20th 6-8 pm
jazz singer Beth Purcell and keyboardist Brian Friedland
food and drinks, short artist talks, raffle for popular gift cards
Curated by John Quatrale, Exhibition design by Karen Smigliani
 Aline Machado Martini, Charles River Speedway
administration building, digital photograph
Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) and the Harvard Ed Portal are pleased to present Rejuvenation in the air-conditioned Crossings Gallery at 224 Western Ave., Allston featuring 13 women artists who are also members of Unbound Visual Arts.
The launch party for this exhibition is Thursday July 20th from 6:00 - 8:00 pm with music, refreshments, short artist talks and a raffle.  The exhibition is an opportunity to delve into the life cycle of six historic Allston-Brighton landmarks through the latest Crossings Gallery and the non-profit Unbound Visual Arts curated exhibition Rejuvenation. Through mixed media works by local artists, this exhibition surveys properties in the neighborhood that have gone through a cycle of birth, deterioration, and abandonment or renewal. The works on display also explore parallel processes of rejuvenation in human life and ask how the past and future affect the present. The exhibition is curated by John Quatrale and designed by Karen Smigliani. 

Brenda Gael McSweeney, Oak Square School
 landmark building, digital photograph

The artists include: Marian Dioguardi, Angela Fiori, Deborah Flusberg, Mary Gillis, Heidi Lee, Mariel LeibovichSusan Loomis-Wing, Aline Machado Martini, Brenda Gael McSweeney, PhD, Ruth Rieffanaugh, Diane Sheridan, Anne Silber, Christine Winship.

Cosponsors include the International UNESCO/
UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & Development based at Boston University's Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS)
Gender and International Development Initiatives/ GaIDI of the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center (WSRC); and the Boston Public Library's Faneuil Branch Librarian as a special supporter of the exhibit.
See the UVA Exhibition Website here, with the works exhibited, more about each landmark and the Curator's Statement.
The exhibition runs through August 22, 2017. The Crossing Gallery at 224 Western Avenue is open Monday - Thursday 10:00 - 6:00 pm and 10:00 - 5:00 pm on Fridays. It is served by the 66, 70 and 86 MBTA buses and is one mile from the Harvard Square Station.

Do spread the word!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Memoir in Motion: From Russia to Switzerland to India ...

Chandana 'Mamlu' Dey, a Founding Member of our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network, hopes to trace her grandmother’s journey from Russia in the Revolution, to Europe in the 1930s, to Calcutta in the War Years and Shantiniketan during Tagore’s lifetime. As she writes, this is a Memoir of an extraordinary individual and also the story of the turbulent times she lived through. Chandana continues: 

I've started work on a Memoir of my grandmother, Ketaki Sarkar (nee Jonas); Kotya Jonas met Nitai Sarkar in Geneva before the Second World War. She was a daughter of a Russian émigré, he a struggling medical student. They met at a student dance, fell in love, and got married. My grandfather practiced medicine in a rural clinic in the Canton de Valais-Switzerland, in what has now become a tourist spot. After my mother was born, he was keen to return to India , and my grandmother was prepared to leave her own family behind in Europe, and accompany him to a strange country and make it her home. She did this so successfully that no one would ever comment on her ‘un-Indianness’. She was completely at home in all cultures, all countries. She spoke Bengali fluently but never forgot her French or Russian. She managed to enter the most ‘aristocratic’ circles in Kolkata and later in Shantiniketan, but she was a working woman all her life and the household ran because she did so many jobs — effortlessly side by side.  I still come across students of ‘Mme De-Sarkar’ who taught students French at the Alliance Française in Kolkata.   

Three generations: Chandana at right with her mother and grandmother
Writing this Memoir really makes me think of how much more open societies were in the past.  I grew up in the 1970s knowing that the United States was made of struggling immigrants- where there was ‘place for all’. Migrants and immigrants have strived hard in unfamiliar surroundings, faced hardships and made successes of their lives. Would my grandmother have been able to fulfill her trajectory today? Surely, the more we close our borders, we close ourselves, and this makes us lead ‘small’ lives? 

~ Chandana 'Mamlu' Dey

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WGS's Diane Balser Active in Denmark on International Women's Day!

On March 8th I attended International Women’s Day in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I attended an event sponsored by a progressive political party. It was interesting to me that the leader of the party was young. I found out that most of the leading women in politics in Denmark are under 40 with few exceptions. I attended a workshop led by a relatively young German female political leader on women’s rights around abortion (abortion rights are under attack in large parts of Southern and Middle Europe) led by Catholic and fundamentalist Protestant politicians. Other issues discussed were the sexualization of women’s bodies and violence against women.

There was a big march: “Feminist 8th of March” with speeches about parental leave for both parents, equal pay and women’s struggles in a welfare county. In addition, there were critiques of right wing politicians and neoliberal economic policies linked to sexism.

I led a workshop during the following weekend on the elimination of sexism using tools for women from Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland. There were a number of women of color and also younger women that were part of each delegation. We spent a lot of time having women listen to each other about each woman’s life and the sexism and racism that were often faced. Also discussed were the key issues around sexism that effect all women including sexual violence and physical violence against women, females and power, leadership, economic inequalities, environmental injustices, the effects of other oppression such as racism, class, disability, sexual and gender identities, homophobia, ethnicity, nationality. Also a whole range of topics such as religion and sexism, women’s work, sexism and the media, etc. were discussed and the emotional effects were explored.

The workshop was sponsored by No Limits for Women of a co-counseling network. No Limits for Women offers a system of ongoing mutual support and resource. It is available to all women, whatever their economic, social, and cultural circumstances. The support and resource make it possible for women (and men) to sustain our efforts to eliminate sexism. Women participants have access to effective tools that they can use on a one-to-one basis.
                                                                                                                            ~ Dr. Diane Balser

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Opening Night! Boston City Hall Exhibition, and Panel on "Women in the Workforce"

On Thursday, 16 March 2017, two Boston University (BU) Humphrey Fellows—Sevgim Çisel Çelik Keskin of Turkey and Pakaiphone Syphoxay of Laos—teamed up with MIT Fellow Heba Khalil of Egypt to present on the theme of “Women in the Workforce” in their respective countries at a symposium that served as the kickoff event of a Boston City Hall exhibition entitled “Earned: Women in Business and Labor.” The exhibition presented by Unbound Visual Arts, Inc. and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, was supported by the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement, the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS) at Boston University, Gender & International Development Initiatives of the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center (GaIDI/WSRC), and the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail (BWHT). The exhibition coincides with Women’s History Month in the United States and UN International Women’s Day on March 8th, which has a 2017 theme of “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030.” The exhibition that will run until April 6th was curated by John Quatrale with Advisor Brenda Gael McSweeney of BU’s WGS, and received additional support for exhibition design from Alexandra Kontsevaia Peterson and graphic design from Cait Stuff.

BU Prof. Toni Pepe
BU HHHP Assistant Director Cyrus Konstantinakos moderated the symposium, which began with a short presentation by BU Assistant Professor of Art & Photography Toni Pepe. During the fall semester, Professor Pepe and her colleague Laura Grey led a two-session workshop on multimodal literacy for the Fellows to support their presentation on “Women in the Workforce” that they would deliver in November, at the Humphrey Fellowship’s Global Leadership Forum in Washington, DC. Toni gave an overview of the workshop and underscored the importance of having dexterity with the media through which messages are broadcast in the 21st century.

Following Professor Pepe’s remarks, the Humphrey Fellows presented on these topics:

L to R: Humphrey Fellows Sevgim and Pakai

Women’s Labour Force Participation and the Feminist Movement in Turkey: Sevgim Çisel Çelik Keskin

Women’s Economic Empowerment in Laos: Rural and Urban Dimensions: Pakaiphone Syphoxay

The Role of Space in Mediating Gender Equity: Hebaallah Essameldin Khalil

L to R: Louise Elving, Cyrus Konstantinakos, Heba Khalil
In attendance were city officials, heads of local NGOs, former BU HHHP Director Ksenya Khinchuk, BU faculty and students, MIT Humphrey Program Lecturer Louise Elving, BWHT Board Director Mary Smoyer, Resident Scholars of WSRC/Brandeis and students in the Community College Initiative at Bunker Hill Community College—another international exchange program under the U.S. Department of State. A lively discussion among this diverse group of stakeholders followed the Fellows’ presentations, and more in-depth conversations took place during the reception that immediately followed.

View Flickr Photo Album here !

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows to Lead a Presentation on "Global Perspectives on Women in the Workforce"

Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows from Boston University and MIT will be leading a presentation entitled: "Global Perspectives on Women in the Workforce" to be held at Boston City Hall on Thursday, March 16th, 2017 (Piedmonte Room, fifth floor). You are cordially invited to join and interact with the Fellows who hail from Turkey, Zambia, Egypt, and Laos. This event it taking place in the context of Women's History Month. 

Immediately following will be Opening Reception for the Exhibition Earned: Women in Business and Labor organized by Unbound Visual Arts in the Boston City Hall Scollay Gallery (third floor). This Exhibition featuring 16 women artists was launched on March 8th, International Women’s Day. Reception highlights will include the Sherri Zhang String Trio, 6 short artist talks and appetizers on Thursday, March 16th from 5:00 - 7:00 pm in the Gallery. Unbound Visual Arts is an Affiliate of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & Development anchored at BU's Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program

Among the Exhibition supporters are the Mayor's Office for Women's Advancement, the Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS) at Boston University, Gender & International Development Initiatives of the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center (GaIDI/WSRC), and the Boston Women's Heritage Trail.