Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Fulbright Nehru Doctoral Research Fellow now at WGS!

Vrinda Varma has been selected to the Fulbright-Nehru Program to spend an academic year as a Doctoral Research Fellow at Boston University's Graduate College of Arts and Sciences! Vrinda hails from Kerala, India. She is an Assistant Professor in English at Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur in her home state. Her doctoral research is on the Construction of Women's Identities and Food Narratives, and she is doing her PhD in Gender Studies at Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in Kerala.

During her time at BU, she will be continuing with her research on how narratives about food, including recipe books, women's magazines and food advertisements (de)construct, maintain and perpetuate gendered identities for women. Though she will be dealing specifically with food narratives from Kerala, she is also interested in studying the food-woman metaphors in other cultures as well. 

Vrinda is a published author of an English course book series for school children and has translated The Panchatantra (five books of animal fables) from Malayalam to English for young readers. Her areas of interest include Food and Food Culture, Food and Gender Roles, Food History, Culinary Writing, Magazines and Readership, and Young Fiction.

She has recently published a chapter "The Food Woman Connection: Is Food Really a Woman's Thing?" in the volume Making Sense of Food: Constructing Culinary and Cultural Identities (Eds: Sally Baho and Gregory Katsas, ISBN 978-1-84888-011-5).

Welcome and congratulations Vrinda!

Save the Date, 17 March-3pm: Muqadissa Mehreen on Gender Issues in Education in Pakistan!

Beyond the Book Exhibition features record number of events and participants!

The recent Beyond the Book Exhibition IX hosted a record number of events, which attracted participants and visitors from the community and academia alike. Boston University's Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program was pleased to be a sponsor of Beyond the Book IX.

Beyond the Book Exhibition organizer Ronni Komarow (center) interacting at the opening
We reported earlier on the well-attended exhibition launch at the Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library. View the flickr photo album here:

This was followed by two Artists' Talks organized by Ronni Komarow, one at the Faneuil Branch and the other at the Brighton Center Library Branch. These generated fascinating interactions between the artists themselves and participants from universities and the community, resulting in fresh ideas to disseminate the goals of a wide variety of entries. One example was a discussion of a work of Helga Felleisen entitled Counting Flatbread; the artists offered suggestions on how to attract yet further support for the featured disadvantaged populations in Syria.

Artist Helga Felleisen with her work Counting Flatbread
An additional event was a practical "hands on" workshop, where participants learned how to create their own "books as art".

Given the success of this series of events, we already look forward to next year's Beyond the Book X!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Honoring Raffi Freedman-Gurspan

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan of our WGS community at Boston University will be receiving a prestigious award at the Massachusetts State House later this month. The Jewish Community Relations Council and the Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations will confer their Excellency in Advocacy Award on Raffi at a ceremony on February 25, 2016.

Announcement above courtesy: 2016 JCRC of Greater Boston
Raffi worked earlier in her career until mid-2011 as Course and Research Assistant with Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney at BU/WGS (Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program) in the arena of Gender and International Development. Raffi was also Brenda's teaching assistant at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management and her research associate at the Women's Studies Research Center, both at Brandeis University.

Other awardees at the Legislative Reception 2016 on Women in Leadership will be Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Senator Karen Spilka, and Representative Patricia Haddad.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Photo-essay Camp in Uganda on Climate Change and Gender Equity

We were delighted to receive from Cyrus Konstantinakos of the BU Humphrey Fellowship Program, our newest UNESCO/UNITWIN Network Affiliate, the following account of a pathbreaking photo-essay camp in Uganda: 

"December 22nd marked the end of an exciting, twelve-day photo-essay​ camp in Uganda, which was initiated by the Humphrey Fellowship Program at Boston University and hosted by Peace Corps Uganda, with financial support from the U.S. Embassy and participation by the Ugandan Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Alumni Association. Participants included five ​production ​teams of four members—one Ugandan woman, one Ugandan youth who had​ previously participated in Peace Corps programs, one Peace Corps Volunteer,​ and one YALI Fellow. The camp was coordinated by BU Humphrey Program Assistant Director Cyrus Konstantinakos, Humphrey Program Alumni Agnes Igoye and Jovita Tamosaityte, and Peace Corps Uganda staff Phylicia Martel.

A four-day orientation included a photography workshop and sessions on climate change and gender equity as the teams prepared for five days of photography in the field.

Following their fieldwork, the teams returned to Peace Corps headquarters and began producing photo essays introducing topics in Ugandan culture through a female lens that also highlight local resilience in the face of climate change. The essays will be presented in a ​book and photo exhibition entitled Reclaiming the Pearl​.

In May 2015, Cyrus Konstantinakos and Agnes Igoye, one of Peace Corps Uganda’s Let Girls Learn Ambassadors, approached Peace Corps Uganda to collaborate on the twelve​-day Our Global Communities photo-essay c​amp in December. The Peace Corps became a large stakeholder in the camp under its #LetGirlsLearn Initiative, volunteering to host it at its Kampala headquarters, supporting program development​,​ and enlist​ing several Volunteers and their youth beneficiaries to participate. This included seeking out additional staff support and technical expertise from Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Douglas Cruickshank, author of the award-winning photo-essay book, ​Somehow: Living on Uganda Time, and former Peace Corps intern and Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellow Martin Muganzi, who currently serves as Secretary General of the YALI Uganda Alumni organization. Martin further ​enlisted five other YALI Fellows. One of them, Cyrus Kawalya, led the camp's ​photography sessions."

Agnes Igoye is Deputy National Coordinator of Uganda’s Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce, Training Manager in the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and Women in Public Service Project (WPSP), a State Department initiative launched under Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2011. 

Cyrus Konstantinakos is Assistant Director of the Humphrey Fellowship Program at Boston University and ​Director of the Our Global Communities project.  In December, he ran the first Our Global Communities photo essay camp in Nicaragua with support from the U.S. Embassy, the University of Nicaragua, and Peace Corps Nicaragua.

Dr. Jean Chapman, Simone de Beauvoir Institute: Recent Publications

We are so pleased to announce that Dr. Jean Chapman, feminist scholar at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute of Montreal and UNESCO/UNITWIN Network Affiliate, recently shared with us several of her papers published over the past year. This scholarship is hosted on the website of Concordia University with which the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, dedicated to studying feminisms and questions of social justice, is affiliated.

One of Jean's papers, entitled "Gendered climate change: impacts and regulatory oversight," was the basis of her Guest Lecture at an Environmental Impact Assessment course in November 2015.

An abridged version of a second article on "State Repression and the Indian Feminist Movement in the 1970s - 1980s" was presented in the session on "Memory, forgetting and neoliberalism in Asia: histories of repression 1970-1990" at the Conference of the Society for Socialist Studies, University of Ottawa in June 2015.

Both of these papers may be viewed at:

Brava, Jean!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Special Volume on Indian Feminism just launched: Editor, Asha Mukherjee

Delighted to announce that a special issue on Indian Feminism (July-December 2015) from the LABRYS series has been released! Our UNESCO/UNITWIN Founding Member Dr. Asha Mukherjee from Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan, West Bengal is both the Editor and a contributing author. Asha wrote the Introduction as well as a chapter entitled "Indian Feminism: Dynamics and Challenges". Dr. Arvinder Ansari, another UNESCO/UNITWIN Network Founding Member from Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, also contributed: her feature is titled "Muslim Women’s Activism in India: Negotiating the Customary Laws and Feminism".

Congratulations Asha and Arvinder!

These articles and others in the volume can be found at: 

Photo: Cover courtesy LABRYS, Feminist Studies (July-December 2015 volume)

Monday, January 11, 2016

You are Invited: UVA's Mardi Gras Celebration!

Our UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate, Unbound Visual Arts (UVA)  a local non-profit art organization that enriches the community with educational and inspiring exhibitions and programs  invites you to its Annual Celebration!

From UVA: "Mardi Gras and Carnival Arts Celebration

IMG_4150Fat TUESDAY FEBRUARY 9th, 2016



Crowne Plaza Hotel, just off Exit 17 on the Mass. Turnpike
320 Washington St., Newton Corner, MA
FREE Garage Parking
 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Eventbrite - Mardi Gras and Carnival Arts Celebration at the Social
We've started a new tradition in Boston and we want you to be a part of it.  It's an evening of fun and celebration for all Unbound Visual Arts members, guests and friends at the very contemporary Social Restaurant and Bar. We'll have a live Mardi Gras band, Josiah Reibstein Trio light hors d'oeuvres appropriate for Mardi Gras & Carnival, a full cash bar, an art show of UVA member's work, dancing, and a raffle to win some great prizes. Come and be part of the excitement. Share a good time with artists and other art supporters from throughout the area. We'll provide the beads and masks too! Free garage parking and it's on the 57, 504 and 554 bus lines.

Don't know what Mardi Gras and Carnival is all about? No problem, it's basically a huge worldwide celebration that happens every year to start the Spring. It's really a big deal in New Orleans and most Latin American and many European countries. It's also called "Fat Tuesday" because theoretically it's the last day to indulge before Lent sets in for Christians. But everyone gets to celebrate the approaching Spring!"

For updates, visit:

Friday, December 18, 2015

Margaret 'Peg' Snyder delivers African Studies Association Annual Lecture

UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate Margaret 'Peg' Snyder, the Founding Director of UNIFEM (The UN Development Fund for Women) recently gave the annual lecture for the Women's Caucus of the African Studies Association. Her lecture was titled “Four Decisive Decades: The Birth and Growth of a Global Women’s Movement”. The event coincided with the 40th anniversary of the first world conference on the status of women in Mexico City and the subsequent creation of UNIFEM, as well as the founding of the African Studies Association’s Women’s Caucus.

Peg Snyder (bottom right) with colleagues of the ASA Women's Caucus.
Photo credit: African Studies Association Women's Caucus

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Coming soon: Bulgarian Folk Concert!

You are invited to a traditional folk music performance in Brighton, Massachusetts on November 15th! Dr. Barbara Gottfried of BU's Women's & Gender Studies faculty has a long association with Divi Zheni, the Boston-based Balkan Women's Chorus & Orchestra.

As Barbara shared with us, “Divi Zheni is a chorus and orchestra of 25 women from the U.S. and Bulgaria directed by renowned Bulgarian vocalist, instructor, and conductor Tatiana Sarbinska. We sing to share our love of Bulgarian music—once you have heard it, you can never go back.” 

Photo courtesy Barbara Gottfried
Barbara teaches courses in women in literature, mass media, and film at BU’s Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies program. As the Divi Zheni website notes, “She has traveled extensively in the Balkans, including trips to Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Croatia, Romania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. She has studied Balkan dance and singing at seminars in Ohrid, Macedonia with Goran Alacki and Ljupco Manevski [Tanec] and Bansko, Bulgaria with Tatiana Sarbinska, and the dance of Transylvania at a dance camp in Felsosofalva in the Transylvanian part of Romania [Szekelyfold]. She has been folk dancing since a fateful night in 1971, when she stumbled upon Israeli dancing in the MIT Student Center.” 

Do join to enjoy the upcoming cultural performance 
by this renowned Balkan Women's Chorus!
Brighton Allston Congregational Church, 404 Washington, Street, Brighton
Sunday, November 15th at 2 pm