Saturday, September 22, 2018

You are invited: Unbound Visual Arts' Wellness Exhibition and Reception!

Please join the Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) Wellness Exhibition Opening and Wine Reception with the Artists on Saturday, Oct, 20th from 6-8 pm. The Exhibition runs from October 9-27th, 2018 at Lasell College's Wedeman Gallery, 47 Myrtle Ave, Auburndale (Newton), MA 02466.

Unbound Visual Arts (UVA), a member of our WGS-based UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & People-Centered Development, is the sponsor of the Exhibition entitled Wellness with works by 14 Member Artists and curated by UVA Executive Director John Quatrale. 

Cosponsors include the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & Development at Boston University and the Gender & International Development Initiatives of the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center (GaIDI/WSRC).

For more information including the Exhibition Statement visit:

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

WGS Director Catherine ‘Cati’ Connell Celebrates the Accomplishments of Two Colleagues

Dr. Cati Connell, Director of the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS) at Boston University, recently shared important news:

Please join me in congratulating Yoon Sun Yang on her promotion to tenured Associate Professor of Korean and Comparative Literature as well as Joanna Davidson on her promotion to tenured Associate Professor of Anthropology!

Yoon Sun Yang
(Photo: BU/WGS Website)

Yoon Sun Yang’s scholarship uses literature as a tool for investigating how gender and sexuality are implicated in the projects of modernity and coloniality, and does so in new and exciting ways. Her first book, From Domestic Women to Sensitive Young Men, disrupts the taken-for-granted interpretation of female characters in the early colonial Korean literature as outside of the modernization process. From schoolgirls to femme fatales, women characters (and the domestic novels they often appeared in) have been written off as unimportant to understanding the relationship between literature, modernity, and colonial rule. Yoon Sun’s analysis, though, shows that in fact these characters (and their authors) played a pivotal role in developing the modern notion of the individual. On a deeper level, the book shows how the process of translation – in this case, the choices made by those who translated these early modern Korean texts – is itself shaped by hegemonic norms of gender and sexuality. In addition to contributing such fascinating research to BU’s Women’s & Gender Studies program profile, Yoon Sun’s courses like Gender in East Asia and Growing Up in Korea are crucial in offering global and transnational breadth to the curricular portfolio. 

Joanna Davidson
(Photo: BU's Anthropology Department Website)

Joanna Davidson specializes in cultural anthropology, centering her research on the Diola peoples of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa through lenses of economic development, agriculture, gender relations, inter-ethnic conflict, and the politics of storytelling. She authored a critically acclaimed book, Sacred Rice: An Ethnography of Identity, Environment, and Development in Rural West Africa (2016), co-edited another, and published numerous articles and reviews in top scholarly journals. WGS looks forward to adding her global and methodological expertise to the program’s ever-expanding research profile.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

You are invited to a UNESCO/UNITWIN co-sponsored event: Women in Boston's Public Art!

The Brighton-Allston Historical Society is pleased to present
Mary Howland Smoyer
Women in Boston’s Public Art

Thursday, April 26, 7:00 p.m.
Brighton Allston Congregational Church

Image above: The Boston Women's Memorial honoring Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley.
 –Wikimedia Commons/Ingfbruno by artist Artist Meredith Bergmann.

Mary Howland Smoyer has been active in the Boston Women's Heritage Trail ( for over 25 years. The Trail was founded in 1989 to recover, document, and disseminate Boston women's history. Note that the Boston Women's Heritage Trail website here carries the BAHS Women's History Initiatives and Women of Vision: Brighton Allston Women's Heritage Trail Guide!

In honor of this rich legacy, Mary will talk about women recognized in public art with a focus on the stories of six women honored with statues around Boston. Mary’s talk is most timely, since the 2018 Theme for National Women's History Month is “Nevertheless, She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”

If you have explored the Boston Women’s Memorial pictured above on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, then you will recognize three of Boston’s firebrand women: Lucy Stone, Abigail Adams, and Phillis Wheatley.

According to the Boston Women's Heritage Trail website:

“Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was one of the first Massachusetts women to graduate from college. She was an ardent abolitionist, a renowned orator, and the founder of the Woman's Journal, the foremost women's suffrage publication of its era. Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was the wife of John Adams, the second president of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States. Her letters establish her as a perceptive social and political commentator and a strong voice for women's advancement. Phillis Wheatley (ca. 1753-1784), born in South Africa, was sold as a slave from the ship Phillis in colonial Boston. During a time when slaves were forbidden to become literate, she was a literary prodigy whose 1773 volume Poems on Various Subjects, Religious, and Moral was the first book published by an African writer in America.” (Source:

Join Mary Smoyer to hear the stories of Boston’s amazing women reflected in public art – perhaps of these three along with stories of Harriet Tubman, Anne Hutchinson, and Mary Dyer who have also been honored with statues in Boston – and you might ask Mary for tales of others recognized on Cape Cod (Rachel Carson, Mercy Otis Warren, and Katherine Bates)! 

CosponsorsUNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture, and People-Centered Development based at Boston University's Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program
GaIDI (Gender and International Development Initiatives), Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center

This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Save the date: UVA's Women's History Month Exhibition! Battle of the Sexes Revisited

Battle of the Sexes Revisited: The Sexual Harassment Volley of Today

Honan-Allston Library Art Gallery, 300 North Harvard St., Allston, MA 02134

Organized by Unbound Visual Arts (UVA)
March 10 - April 27, 2018 
Reception: March 10, 2018, 1:00 - 4:30 pm

Exhibition Designer - Alexandra Kontsevaia
Exhibition Assistance - Si Chen, Emily Friedlander, and Lauren Mclean

Featured Artists: 
Jean Aserkoff, Audrey Banks, Romani Berlekov, Si Chen, Tsun Ming Chmielinski, Linda Clave, Jennifer Jean Costello, Elle Cox, Joanne Desmond, Peg Ehrlinger, Francis Gardino, Adric Giles, Susanna Hilfer, Wendy Holmes, Tom Jackson, Amanda Kidd Schall, Heidi Lee, Yanni Li, Pauline Lim, Susan Loomis-Wing, Elisandra Lopes, Brenda Gael McSweeney, Nadia Parsons, Connie Pemberton Glore, Jeffrey Powers, Mick Provencher, Ruth Rieffanaugh, Edward Sokoloff, Mary Vannucci, Christine Winship

Live music by pianist Mae Siu Wai Stroshane, short artist and curator talks, and complimentary appetizers

Lead-in to Exhibit: Special showing of Nowhere to Call Home: The tale of a Tibetan migrant worker in Beijing sponsored by GaIDI/WSRC on Feb. 1, 2018. See more here.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Please join us for GaIDI-WSRC's screening of "Nowhere to Call Home: The tale of a Tibetan migrant worker in Beijing" - cosponsored by our UNITWIN!

You are invited to GaIDI's February 1st event, a screening of Nowhere to Call Home: The tale of a Tibetan migrant worker in Beijing.

As announced by GaIDI (Gender and International Development Initiatives) of the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center:

Director Jocelyn Ford, an award-winning international filmmaker and journalist, will provide introductory commentary followed by a Q&A after the film.

Date: Thursday, February 1st
Place: Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall, 
Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center (WSRC)
515 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453
Time: 12:30-2:30 PM 

Shot in the slums of Beijing and a remote village in Tibet, the film offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the world of a Tibetan farmer, recently widowed, torn between her traditional way of life and her desire for her son to have a better future. It follows the protagonist, after she flees to the capital with her six-year-old son, the only surviving heir to a Tibetan clan, as she contends with the racism Tibetans encounter. Along the way, the documentary challenges common Western stereotypes about Chinese and Tibetans, and reveals a dark side of life in a traditional village, where the saying goes, "women aren't worth a penny."

Translated into 11 languages, the verité-style documentary has garnered prestigious awards, including the NHK's prestigious 2015 Japan Foundation President's Award, a leading international award for educational documentaries, Italy's Trento Solidarity Award, and a special mention at Belgium's Millenium International Film Festival. It has also received acclaim from both Tibetans and Han Chinese in the People's Republic of China. In the US, the Nowhere to Call Home premiere sold out at the Museum of Modern Art, followed by full house screenings in San Francisco and Massachusetts. 

Poster of the film Nowhere to Call Home 

Please click on the following link to view the trailer of Nowhere to Call Home. Please spread the word. Looking forward to seeing you on Feb. 1st!

Sponsored by Gender and International Development Initiatives (GaIDI) of the Brandeis University Women's Studies Research Center (WSRC), and co-sponsored by the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & People-Centered Development at Boston University Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program (WGS), and by Unbound Visual Arts (UVA), Inc. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

You are Invited: Michela West's Upcoming Exhibition "Power in Pink"

RECEPTION Feb. 3rd at 
Faneuil Branch Library Gallery

"Amy" taken by Michela West on the Bigelow St. side of the Faneuil Library, Oak Sq., Brighton  
"Power in Pink" Exhibition
Photographs by Michela West 
Artist's Reception
Saturday Feb. 3, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Faneuil Branch/Boston Public Library
Oak Sq., 419 Faneuil St., Brighton, 02135

"Power in Pink" is inspired by the Women's March of January 2017. Michela photographed over 200 dancers in settings across metropolitan Boston. The intent is to underscore the strength, both physical and spiritual, of the women in the photographs. The exhibition will be on view from January 25th through March 3rd.

Michela, center, with two of the dancers at
her Mass Motion Solo Exhibit
Photo: Brenda Gael McSweeney

Michela West is a Boston-based freelance photographer. Her recent solo exhibits include the "Pop Up" Exhibition of Dance Photography at Mass Motion in Brighton (May 2016) and "figuratively" at the Harbor Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Boston (Sept.-Oct. 2016). Michela serves on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Faneuil Branch Library, Oak Square, Brighton, Massachusetts.

Sponsored by The Friends of the Faneuil Branch Library (an Affiliate of UNESCO/UNITWIN); Cosponsored by Boston University's UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & Development, and by Brandeis University's GaIDI (Gender and International Development Initiatives of the Women's Studies Research Center)

Friday, December 1, 2017

BU Today Publication News!

How exciting that two of the WGS BU professors have been featured in BU Today!

Photos: WGS/BU
The Opinion Page published a feature of WGS's Director Cati Connell, titled POV: What Does it Mean When We Say #MeToo?: Race, class, gender intersect to make some people more vulnerable to sexual assault. Dr. Connell's piece begins with the barrage of posts we all receive on our social media feeds these days on "the magnitude of sexual violence"; she sketches the origins of The Me Too Movement and the vast nuances of related campaigns up to the present watershed moment. Cati concludes with this thought:

"My hope is that despite its limitations, the Me too campaign inspires us to unite and fight the problem of sexual harassment and sexual assault on our campus and beyond."

See her full BU Today Point of View at:

The Campus Life Page published a feature by Rich Barlow on WGS's Dr. Diane Balser, entitled: Sexism in the Harvey Weinstein Era: BU course studies an old oppression that’s alive and well. According to Barlow, Diane's class also evokes the "dam burst of revelations about prominent sexual predators in the Harvey Weinstein era, and the MeToo backlash against sexual misconduct." She describes the changes that have occurred with regard to sexism and violence against women, and emphasizes that now sexual violence towards women is "more visible and accepted in a very different way." The article concludes with the reflections of the lone male student in her class.

These two articles will inform the forthcoming Women's History Month exhibition of Unbound Visual Arts, an Affiliate of the WGS/BU-based UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & People-Centered Development.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Article on Suppression of Women in West Bengal, India, just published!

News just in from West Bengal, UNITWIN Affiliate Jharna Panda has published an article in a leading Bengali newspaper examining the social ramifications of domestic violence through an ethnographic approach. See her article below. The English synopsis by Founding Member of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network, Chandana Dey also former Editor for Social Science Press, New Delhi, follows.

Jharna Panda- On Domestic Violence in rural Bengal: No change visible in two decades

Jharna talks about the continuing state of the violence inflicted on women and gives some case studies (the names are changed) of the lives of women who are faced with both physical and mental torture every single day. She cites the results of a survey that covered 180 villages- from 2008 to 2018 that show that the level of violence is the same even after the passing of legislation that protects women’s rights. This is a ‘distant’ justice that women cannot avail of due to ignorance of the law, and mostly because they lack the economic means to report cases of violence to either the police or the courts. Frequently, cases where there is some level of negotiation- women have to return to abusive husbands, since they fear being burdens on either their own parents or their siblings. Here they return to a situation where there is no guarantee of their safety nor any sense of self-respect. 

She starts by narrating a case of a man who killed his wife and his five - year old daughter (cracked open their skulls) while they were sleeping; their ‘crime’ was that his meal had not been served to him on time.

While Jharna worked on cases of domestic violence and attended sessions of counselling of married couples, the list of grievances was long and varied. Married women might indulge in one or other of the following activities that would incite the husband to violence:

- Renege on dowry provisions and promises (cycle/TV)
- While sweeping, they would raise dust in the courtyard
- Not clean the grinding stone sufficiently well after grinding turmeric    - Etc. 

Dowry is not the sole reason for domestic violence. Khalida, a mother of five children tried to hide her contraceptive pills in the spice box. Her husband found them and threw her and the children out of the house. Khalida did not have the wherewithal to go to the police; her chief worry was how to find shelter for herself and the children.

Then there is the case of Salma. Her husband tried to kill her and left her for dead in the fields. Neighbours found her and a case of domestic violence was lodged against the husband. Her crime- she was childless even after some years of being married. When Jharna met her last, she had returned to her husband. ‘Don’t be angry, Didi,’ said Salma. ‘My husband told me he would take me back if I withdrew the case. What else could I do? I can’t be a burden on my parents or my brothers’ families. Finally, this is the only home I have’.

The Survey showed that the main reason for husbands to get angry was that their food might not be ready on time. Around 2000 husbands interviewed replied in almost the same way. They were asked: ‘If you come back from the fields and your food is not ready, do you lose your temper?’ All the husbands replied in the affirmative- ‘Yes, I do get angry. Surely that’s natural?’ Some also said that they tended to throw whatever they could find that was close at hand. Then, after they have eaten, their mood improves and they make up the quarrel.

When women were asked whether they would seek legal redress to domestic violence, many said they did not know about the laws. Perhaps the most that women might do is to go to the panchayat with their complaint. ‘Will my husband pay my bus fare to go to the police station to report his crime’ asked one victim, ‘and who will come with me’?

Many women simply consider taking their own lives. Marital rape is common in many homes. One woman stated that even though her children were educated and had gone to college, she had to submit to her husband whenever he desired her. The house is small and the young children see and hear everything. Yet the State has decided that it cannot be involved in the question of marital rape.

The Survey clearly shows that the status of rural women in Bengal is unchanged over the last two decades.
~ Synopsis in English by Chandana Dey

Jharna also elaborated with the following reflections:

"The question of domestic violence suffered by women, especially by rural women, is a much talked about 'topic' in mass media as well as in academia. While this reflects a certain recognition of the endemic nature of this violence, the perfunctory manner in which the issue is generally dealt with betrays a callous understanding of the social and humane context of this domination.

Almost any such discussion invariably ends up with a hoarse call for "exemplary punishment". One needs only to walk down winding mud tracks and sit for a while on the verandah of any thatched hut listening to stories of the 'victims' to understand the vacuousness and insensitivity of such 'discourse'. Those women live in a world far beyond the reach of long arm of law. Local police agencies are almost inaccessible for any of those women. They consider quite understandably – the khaki clad police an alien entity more threatening than their drunken husbands.The cost of judicial redress is simply not affordable. 

But more crucially, violence on women is an issue which does not fit in its entirety within the pages of a statute book. Most of those rural women live a life organically linked with their husbands, the insufferable torture notwithstanding. Who is going to look after her if her husband lands up in jail? Neither is she as insensitive as a hardened media commentator not to see the human behind her bullying husband. That very man is breaking his bones from dawn to dusk and is taking many a blow silently to take care of his family. Is throwing him behind the bar the only 'solution' we can think about?"

Jharna poses some provocative questions that help readers think critically about the issue of the suppression of women in Bengal through a nuanced lens drawing from her own field research in remote areas. The publication is incredibly timely, as the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women approaches on November 25. 

About the author (left): Jharna Panda is working as a Research Associate in the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. Jharna is affiliated with the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & People-Centered Development

English Synopsis by Chandana Dey (right), Founding Member of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network and former Editor for Social Science Press, New Delhi

~ Compiled by Nicole Rizzo

Report Back: Unbound Visual Arts 5th Anniversary Event!

We're happy to share that the Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) 5th Anniversary event was a success! The reception hall was filled with playwrights, poets and writers, civic advocates and social activists, gender equality and women's rights specialists, and childhood friends from the Poet Laureate's Mattapan days. Boston University's Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program and GaIDI/WSRC (Gender and International Development Initiatives/Women's Studies Research Center) at Brandeis were promotional sponsors.

The City of Boston's second Poet Laureate and first female, Danielle Legros Georges, gave more of a 'performance' than a 'reading' – – photos below give the flavor.

      Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges captivating the 5th Anniversary audience –         Photo: Brenda Gael McSweeney
Danielle shared poems from Letters from Congo (where her family had fled from Haiti's Duvalier regime when she was four years old), and from The Dear Remote Nearness of You. The latter included a work called "Intersection" dedicated to Haiti in 2010 after the earthquake, beginning "The earth shook. A portal opened. / I walked through it. The earth shook..." (24) that literally brought the room to pin-drop silence. One of her earlier publications is Maroon: a selection of poems in which she "explores her heritage as a Haitian and as an American immigrant…" (back cover). We commend to you Danielle's work and events: inspiring and powerful!

Poet Laureate coaching UVA Volunteer Tracy, an aspiring writer – Photo: Brenda
The UVA Board of Directors and Council of Advisors are grateful for the encouragement and support of Unbound Visual Arts initiatives over these inaugural five years! The Founders of UVA were honored on this occasion. Early alert for a UVA Women's History Month exhibition opening on Saturday, March 10, 2018: please save the date!

UVA's Founders, and Board and Council Members with Boston's Poet Laureate (center) – Photo: UVA collection