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

Friday, November 6, 2015

Shahla Haeri featured in upcoming BU lecture series, Monday November 9th

Dr. Shahla Haeri, one of the founding coordinators of the UNESCO/UNITWIN program based at Boston University, will be featured in the Asian Women in Public Life lecture series. Shahla will be speaking on "Muslim Women's Paths to Power: From Bilqis to Benazir" on November 9th at 12:15pm at the Pardee School located at 121 Bay State Road, Boston, Massachusetts. 

Dr. Adil Najam, Dean of BU's Pardee School of Global Studies, will be the discussant. 

As Shahla shared with us on the theme:
 "'Kings, when they enter a city, disorder it, and make the mighty ones of its inhabitants abased. Even so they too will do' (Quran 27: 32-33).  So says judiciously the Queen of Sheba to her advisors and counselors in the face of imminent threat of war from a formidable adversary.   Juxtaposing the Quranic story of the Queen of Sheba, and the purported Prophetic hadith: 'Those who entrust their affairs to a woman will never know prosperity,' Shahla Haeri in her forthcoming book (2017) attempts to bring to life stories of the legendary and historical women who have reached the apex of authority and power in patriarchal Muslim societies.  Taking an ethno-historical view of Muslim women’s paths to power and a cross-cultural anthropological perspective, she explores the circumstance surrounding women’s ascent to power in medieval Egypt, Yemen and India or in modern Pakistan, Turkey or Indonesia.  She critically discusses the politio-religious discourses, and cultural beliefs and practices that have helped or hindered women from attaining political leadership and authority in Muslim societies.  Highlighting medieval and modern examples of Muslim women who actually occupied the exalted office of a sultan, a queen or a prime minister, Haeri problematizes the assumption of religious objections to women's political leadership in Islam. She asks whether the justifications for barring women from positions of political leadership are to be sought in a divine mandate, a prophetic dictum, or patriarchal cultural traditions?  The theoretical line that runs through women’s narratives is threaded through a focus on the paradox of patriarchy, i.e., the animating dynamics of father-daughter relationship.  With the growing Muslim women’s mobilization in the public domain and their demand for political representation and leadership, this book on the historical and contemporary Muslim women rulers is highly timely."

Watch this space for news on the release of Shahla's book!

Photo of Dr. Shahla Haeri: courtesy  BU

Photo album by Brenda Gael McSweeney depicting Dr. Shahla Haeri's event at BU's Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies here

Article by Camille Nguyen on the screening of Shahla's documentary and talk as part of the lecture series of BU's Center for the Study of Asia, here  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Destry Rides Again, at the original site of the Egyptian Theater in Brighton Center!

The Brighton-Allston Historical Society (BAHS), a UNESCO/UNITWIN Network Affiliate, invites you to a special screening of Destry Rides Again:

Join to view this classic film with an original take on society's stereotypical gender roles! Enjoy the setting steeped in the cultural atmosphere of the then famous Egyptian Theater built in 1929 in Brighton Center (now site of the Elks Lodge, at 326 Washington Street).

The Egyptian: courtesy BAHS Archives


Photo album by BAHS Board Director Brenda Gael McSweeney of the packed-to-capacity event: hearty Congratulations to the organizers, and profuse Thanks to the enthusiastic audience! View photographs here:

Friday, October 16, 2015

UNESCO's Dr. Sonia Bahri moving on!

Sonia Bahri as the then Chief of Section for International Cooperation in Higher Education – UNESCO/Paris came to visit us back in 2007 at Boston University to announce the official creation of our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture, & Development! After collaborating with us for many years as our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network expanded thematically and geographically, she became Chief of UNESCO's Section for Science Policy and Partnerships. Sonia is once again on the move: she will be an advisor for Science, Technology and Innovation and education policies, and will help University Paris-Dauphine launch its Master2 in Peace Studies. 

Congratulations Sonia! 

(Left to right, July 2007): Dr. Sonia Bahri; Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney, initiator of this UNESCO/UNITWIN Network; Dr. Barbara Gottfried, Women Studies Program faculty; and Maryam Shahsahebi, then WSP program manager.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Women's History Initiative in Brighton/Allston now figures in the University Archive and Special Collections at UMass Boston

Brenda Gael McSweeney, Board of Directors of the Brighton/Allston Historical Society – a UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate, describes the background to this photo collage contributed to the University Archive and Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

"This photo captures the Women's History Initiative that I launched with the Brighton Allston Historical Society when I came from India to live in Oak Square in 2003. The BAHS published fabulous accounts of men's contributions to our town's history; however one Member, Louise Bonar, had detected the phenomenon of 'Brighton's Forgotten Women'! So we undertook research and hosted events on Brighton's remarkable women. Here is Jennie Loitman Barron of Selkirk Road in Brighton in the 1950s. She became the first full-time female judge in Massachusetts. Her daughter Joy gave us this photo.

Collage by Ali O'Hare
Also depicted is our Women's History Initiatives team that shared the stories of Brighton's Women of Vision: best-selling novelists, a newspaper columnist, the de facto postmaster and numerous strong social activists across four centuries. At top right is Linda Mishkin who currently presides the BAHS, then Priscilla Biondi, Mary Rita Grady, then me – Chair of the group, next is Peg Collins, the immediate past President receiving an award, and at bottom left, Nancy O'Hara.

Other BAHS Board Members Ronni Komarow, Sharon Cayley and Ann Mulligan also presented last May at our multi-media show at the Congregational Church in Brighton Center. Earlier on we had created a Heritage Museum exhibit that ran for over a year, and a Women's Heritage Trail Guide and Bus Tour! Boston University's Women's Studies Program and the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis both supported these initiatives. Collage prepared by Ali O'Hare. Pictured clockwise from top left: Jennie Loitman Barron and colleagues, Linda Mishkin, Priscilla Biondi, CSJ Mary Rita Grady, Brenda Gael McSweeney, Peg Collins and Nancy O'Hara."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

Announcement: UNESCO-Paris Renews our UNITWIN for 4 Years!

Delighted to report that news is just in that UNESCO, Paris has extended the Agreement governing our UNITWIN Network for Gender, Culture, & People-Centered Development until August 2019!

Ambassador Irène Rabenoro on behalf of UNESCO's Education Sector wrote that "In light of the very good results achieved by the above-mentioned Network, confirmed by the positive evaluation of the report on its activities, I am pleased to inform you that UNESCO agrees to renew the above-mentioned Agreement for an additional period of four years."

We wish to congratulate all Partners and Affiliates of the Network in India, West Africa, Greater Boston and beyond on their numerous innovative contributions, and look forward to exciting initiatives during the forthcoming chapter!

Dr. Carrie Preston & Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney 
on behalf of The UNESCO/UNITWIN based at the 
Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program, Boston University

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Forthcoming: Carrie Preston's latest book, Learning to Kneel!

Preview of Coming Attractions: Forthcoming Volume, Learning to Kneel by Dr. Carrie Preston, Director of WGS and Co-Coordinator of our UNESCO/UNITWIN

Carrie has shared with us the following glimpse of her latest work:

"Learning to Kneel traces the lessons, collaborations, and translations that introduced Japanese noh drama to the twentieth-century artistic movement called modernism. Noh captivated famous Euro-American artists, including Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats, Bertolt Brecht, Benjamin Britten, and Samuel Beckett. They collaborated with an international cast of artists who taught them about noh, often while directing, choreographing, or performing in their productions. Preston reintroduces to modernism figures like the Tokyo-born dancer and theater artist, Ito Michio, who performed with Pound in dance-poem recitals and in Yeats’s famous noh adaptation, At the Hawk’s Well. Ito took the play on an international tour that influenced Japanese modern and traditional performance.  

Traditional Noh Performer Furukawa Mitsuru, with whom Carrie studied in Tokyo  

Previous accounts of modernism and noh emphasize the errors in, for example, Pound’s noh translations or Yeats and Brecht’s exoticism and misunderstandings of the noh plays they adapted. Preston’s different approach stems from her experience taking lessons in noh performance technique with a professional actor in Tokyo. This “study abroad” encouraged her to reconsider widespread assumptions about error, misunderstanding, and success.

Noh pedagogy is devoted to preserving a repertory of plays transmitted for centuries from teacher to student in a hierarchical relationship – symbolized for Preston by the decorous and painful practice of kneeling before the teacher to bow, receive instruction, and practice chanting. After initially assuming noh lessons would feel humiliating, Preston found herself experiencing the value of and pleasure in submission to an authority and training regimen. Her tendency to emphasize innovation and subversion (which were of little use in noh lessons) had encouraged her to overlook the complex ranges of agency and empowerment regularly experienced by teachers and students.

Learning to Kneel is a book about journeys: noh’s journey across modernist stages and back to Japan; the international circulation of noh texts and tours of plays; the bodily techniques performers carry across national borders; the travel, even tourism, by which modernist artists encountered noh and – albeit in some limited way – its challenges to western ideas of agency; and Preston’s journey to Japan for noh lessons, where learning to kneel taught her new approaches to teaching and learning."

Below is an illustration of Preston performing a dance from the noh play Hagoromo.


UNESCO/UNITWIN joins in congratulating Carrie on this exciting and innovative work, notably on her forthcoming book which is now in production – thus to be in our hands by the new year! 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Mark your calendars: Upcoming event on Women in Politics in Indonesia on October 6, 2015

We're happy to announce that WGS (Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program) at BU will be joining GaIDI (Gender and International Development Initiatives) of the Women's Studies Research Center (WSRC), Brandeis in co-sponsoring a talk on The Role of Political Parties in Women's Political Representation in Indonesia. The talk will take place at WSRC on the Brandeis University campus at 1515 South Street in Waltham at 12:30pm on October 6. 

WSRC Visiting Scholar Siti "Nur" Nurjanah, who has been part of the GaIDI team will be joined by Guest Speaker Christopher Candland of Wellesley College. WSRC announced: 

"This talk will discuss how Indonesia’s ratification of CEDAW — the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women — has pressured its political parties to adopt a 30 percent quota for women in its electoral system. It will also examine how political parties circumvent the law and continue to establish a male-dominated political culture."

Meantime, see below concerning an award that Nur and her NGO A Voice for Women to Deepen Democracy won this year! More here. Nur is pictured second from right. 

Info and photo courtesy of Making All Voices Count

Please feel free to share this information with others who might be interested

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Breaking News: Raffi Freedman-Gurspan makes history – this time at the White House!

Photo courtesy Raffi Freedman-Gurspan
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan of our Boston University WGS community just made history as the first openly transgender official at the White House! Raffi took up her new senior post as Outreach and Recruitment Director in the Presidential Personnel Office on August 18th, following a stint in trans advocacy as Policy Advisor for the DC-based National Center for Transgender Equality’s Racial & Economic Justice Initiative. 

Raffi worked early in her career until mid-2011as 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. Their collaborative effort on Irish Women Today: Perspectives from Galway to Dublin on Gender (In)Equality was published last December by the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender.

Raffi's primary interests over the years have included public policy making, minority and indigenous peoples' rights, and gender equality matters. We are thrilled that the work of the White House will now benefit from Raffi's talent and activism promoting gender equality and justice.

"Brava" Raffi, from WGS and the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network!