Faculty and Students attend Women's Studies Conference

By Loree Iverson, Student Intern CHASS College Computing
May 5, 2010

UCR Assistant Professor of women's studies, Caroline Tushabe, and four women's studies majors and minors, Valeria Flores, Krystal Huff, Brittnee Meitzenheimer and Marina Espinoza, attended the 19th Annual Women's Studies Conference on "Women and Girls of Color: History, Heritage and Heterogeneity" at Southern Connecticut State University, on the weekend of April 16th. She accompanied the four undergraduate students with whom she had worked particularly close during the developmental process of each student's topic proposal for the conference. All four of the essays were accepted, and a large portion of the funds required to make the trip were raised so that each student could present their work.

As a means for financing the trip, contributions were gathered from various offices around campus, including the women's studies department. Individual contributions were made by the following: Professor David Fairris of economics and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education, Professor Yolanda Moses of anthropology and Associate Vice Chancellor AVC-DEE, Professor Georgia Warnke of philosophy and Associate Dean of CHASS, Professor Marguerite Waller of comparative literature and women's studies, Professor Christine Gailey of women's studies, and Associate Professor Amalia Cabezas of women's studies. In addition, one of the students was partially funded by the undergraduate research fund.

Valeria Flores, a fourth-year sociology and women's studies major, presented an essay titled "Transnational Mothering: Challenges to Women's Rights and Transnational Feminism." In her words: "My participation in the conference is significant as I join other women and girls of color scholars in thinking about critical issues pertinent to us in the 21st century in our communities and the global world."

Krystal Huff, a third-year women's studies and African American studies major, presented a paper titled "Oppression from Within: A Young African American Female's View on Black Masculinity and Oppression of African American Women" which discussed the "various systems of oppression" in relation to race and gender. In the words of Ms. Huff, "I am attempting to address these issues to improve relations within my community and promote peace between both genders in my society."

Brittnee Meitzenheimer, a fourth-year sociology and women's studies major, presented a paper titled "The Politics of Language, Race, and Gender" in which she discussed "the use and misuse of language, specifically as it applies to feminist epistemologies.” According to Ms. Meitzenheimer, "Michael Foucault's definition of power and discourse are utilized in my research in order to explain how language and terminology can be employed to either liberate or oppress people. This research is important, because as a researcher in academia, it is essential that we remain cognizant of the power of language and the salience of the politics behind it."

Marina Espinoza, a fifth-year philosophy and business administration major, presented an essay titled "From Virgin to Mother: The Absense of Mexican Women's Identity" which discussed the effects of socialized gender roles for women, such as "mother" or "wife", and the manner in which these predetermined societal positions "hinder them by making education and freedom dispensable." According to Ms. Espinoza, "If women want equality and the freedom to find their own fulfillment, then they must break the connection between womanhood and motherhood and start to create new identities for themselves."

In addition, UCR's very own Andrea Smith, Assistant Professor of media and cultural studies, attended the conference as a keynote speaker. Professor Smith is a co-founder of the national activist organization Incite! Women of Color Against Violence and The Boarding School Healing Project.

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