1 October 2020

Un/Engendering the Collections: Rethinking Gender in the Ethnographic Museum I

BROWN BAG SESSION | 1 Oct | 15.30 - 17.30 CET | Zoom Online 

As part of Un/Engendering the Collections: Rethinking Gender in the Ethnographic Museumin 2020 we are organizing brown-bag conversations. 

This conversation is on invitation-only. If you would like to participate in this brown bag session, please send an email with your professional affiliation, or if you are an independent researcher, a short description of why you would like to join, to alessandra.benedicty@wereldculturen.nl.

Image: Image: A man approaches an onnagata while they are climbing a flight of stairs. Onnagata (女方or 女形) is a commonly encountered term in discussions of Japanese kabuki theatre and ukiyo-e prints that initially meant "those in charge of women['s roles]" and later "woman's form" (onna + kata). Onnagata are kabuki actors-- usually, if not always, male --who perform the roles of women. Some actors specialize exclusively in women's roles, while others play both men's and women's parts. Sumi ink and pigment on silk, Kawahara Keiga川原慶賀, 1826. RV-360-4343.

Cécile Accilien

Cécile Accilien is professor and chair in the Interdisciplinary Studies Department at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. Her area of studies are Francophone African and Caribbean Literatures and Cultures and Film & Media Studies; Her primary research areas are Caribbean Popular Cultures, Film and Media Studies, Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies.  She is the author of Rethinking Marriage in Francophone African and Caribbean Literatures (Lexington Books, 2008). She has also co-edited and contributed to two collections of essays, Revolutionary Freedoms: A History of Survival, Strength and Imagination in Haiti (Caribbean Studies Press, 2006) and Just Below South: Intercultural Performance in the Caribbean and the U.S. South (University of Virginia Press, 2007); she co-wrote with Jowel Laguerre English-Haitian Creole Phrasebook (McGraw Hill, 2010) and Francophone Cultures Through Film with Nabil Boudraa (Focus Publishing, 2013). She has published articles in the Journal of Haitian Studies, Women, Gender and Families of Color, Revue française, Southern Quarterly and Diaspora in Caribbean Art. She is finishing a co-edited volume Teaching Haiti from Transdisciplinary Studies  (forthcoming  with University Press of Florida, 2021) and a monograph temporarily titled Haitian Hollywood: Representing Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora in Popular Cinema (under contract with SUNY Press). In 2019, she became the chair of the Editorial Board of the journal Women, Gender and Families of Color. She is also on the advisory board of the Haitian Studies Association.


Louise Autar

Louise Autar is a interdisciplinary researcher, teacher and intersectional feminist. She is passionate about pursuing (epistemic) justice through research and creative projects. She is especially dedicated to decolonial theories about intergenerational trauma, healing as related to discourses on emotional labor. Her work as a pedagogue notably at the Utrecht Universiteit Gender Studies program has been lauded for its ability to introduce  critical race theory, decolonial studies, and intersectionality to students, while at the same time honoring these approaches necesssary complexity. Her research is concerned with postcolonial memory-making in relation to the dance tradition in the Hindostani-Surinamese communities in Suriname and the Netherlands, londa kenaach (literal translation: dance of the boy), which traditionally takes place during the groom’s procession (baraat) of a Hindu wedding. 


Cynthia Becker

Cynthia Becker is Associate Professor of African art history in the History of Art & Art Department at Boston University. Her book Amazigh Arts in Morocco: Women Shaping Berber Identity (University of Texas Press, 2006) won a Choice book award in 2007. She has written numerous articles about such topics as the Sahara as a cultural and artistic zone, Amazigh identity politics, contemporary art in the Maghreb, Black Indians in New Orleans, as well as counter-monuments to the Confederacy in New Orleans (her hometown). Her book Blackness in Morocco: Gnawa Identity through Music and Visual Culture will be published by the U of MN Press in November of 2020. Her writings on North Africa have been included in numerous museum exhibitions, including those organized by the Musée berbère du Jardin Marjorelle (for Berber Women of Morocco), the Institut du Monde Arabe (for Trésors de l’islam en Afrique), the Block Museum at Northwestern (for Caravans of Gold), the Newark Museum (for Arts of Global Africa), and the University of Florida Harn Museum (for Africa Interweave: Textile Diasporas). She has publications in such journals as African ArtsRES: Anthropology and AestheticsCritical Interventions, the Journal of North African Studies, de arte, and Contemporary Islam.



Carolina Cueva

Carolina Cuevas is a decolonial feminist researcher and educator from Mexico. Interested in the relationship between materiality, body-territory and collective memory, her current research addresses the affective memory of the violence of forced disappearance and feminicide in Mexico. Examining the entangled stories of colonial legacies, violence against women, territorial dispossession, narco-state violence, and neoliberal policies, her research Tantos cuerpos dolientes/So many grieving bodies: A living archive of care attends to the social life of objects of memory that the mothers and relatives of disappeared people in Mexico have mobilized as a crucial component of their struggle for memory and justice. Her research also examines the relational onto-epistemologies stored within the undervalued objects and practices displayed to re-member the disappeared, the murdered, and their beloved, exploring how the memorialization of violence and grief becomes a matter of care. Cuevas obtained a Master’s degree in Gender Studies (University of Granada/ Utrecht University), and a Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Humanities specializing in Latin American Literature (University of the Americas Puebla). She has also studied Narrative Practices for Education and Community Work with the community study-group of the Indigenous Peasant Network University in Puebla. 


Marcia Esparza

Marcia Esparza was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. In 1986 she immigrated to New York City where she had the opportunity to obtain a doctoral degree in sociology. Marcia's areas of research areas include state violence, genocide, collective memory-silence in the aftermath of mass killings and military sociology in Latin America and more recently in Spain. Her research experience includes extensive fieldwork for the United Nations’ sponsored Truth Commission in Guatemala (1997-1999). Marcia's monograph, Silenced Communities: Legacies of and Resistance to Militarization and Militarism in a Rural Guatemalan Town explores the long-term footprints of war and genocide upon rural Indigenous communities impacted by the conditions of internal colonialism, which the army exploited to build its mass-based support (Berghahn Books, 2017). 

Marcia is also the co- editor of Remembering the Rescuers of Victims of Human Rights Crimes in Latin America. (Lexington Books, 2016) and State Violence and Genocide in Latin American: The Cold War Years (Routledge, 2009). She was the co-editor for the Journal of Genocide Research (JGR) (2018-2020). In her capacity as scholar and activist, she founded the Historical Memory Project (HMP) in 2002 to preserve the collective memory of state violence in the Americas within diasporic communities.

06/10/19 Marcia Esparza for Impact Magazine (c) Pap Studio 1017

Christian Flaugh

Christian Flaugh is Associate Professor of French, Africana, and Caribbean Studies in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures (SUNY-University at Buffalo). He co-founded and co-coordinates the Humanities Institute Performance Research Workshop, a regional hub of scholarly and artistic programming. Flaugh is the author of Operation Freak: Narrative, Identity, and the Spectrum of Bodily Abilities (2012, McGill-Queen’s UP), and co-editor of Marie Vieux Chauvet’s Theatres: Thought, Form, and Performance of Revolt (2018, Caribbean Series, Brill). He also has articles published in journals such as Cultural DynamicsL’Esprit Créateur, Francosphères, Journal of Haitian Studies, and Theatre Topics. He also co-founded Le Théâtre de la Chandelle Verte with whom he performed from 2000 to 2008; and consulted with the creative team of AT BUFFALO, a musical that performs the “black” archives of Buffalo’s 1901 Pan-American Exposition. Flaugh’s current projects focus on digital, live, and print performances across global African and Caribbean spaces, and gendered forms and encounters in contemporary Afro-Caribbean theatres.


Layal Ftouni

Layal Ftouni is an Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at the Graduate Gender Programme, Department of Media and Cultural Studies, at Utrecht University and a research affiliate at the Institute of Cultural Inquiry (ICON) at the same university. She is the co-founder of the transnational network Arab Cultural Studies and is the editor (with Tarik Sabry) of Arab Subcultures: Transformations in Theory and Practice (I.B.Tauris, 2017).   Through her research and teaching, Layal trained transdisciplinarily, working across gender studies, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, visual studies and critical race studies. Her current research centres around the politics of life and death (human and environmental) in conditions of war and settler colonialism.

Before joining Utrecht University, Layal was a senior teaching fellow at SOAS, University of London and completed her PhD at the University of Westminster (2017) entitled Dismantling or Reproducing the Orientalist Canon: Re-visualising the Harem and the Odalisque in Contemporary Art. 


Charlotte Hammond

Charlotte Hammond is a Lecturer in French Studies at Cardiff University. Her first book Entangled Otherness: Cross-Gender Fabrications in the Francophone Caribbean, published with Liverpool University Press in 2018, explores the dynamics of cross-dressing and gender performance in contemporary Francophone Caribbean cultures through the lens of art, film, photography, literature and performance. She is currently working on a Leverhulme-funded project that examines how women garment and textile workers in Haiti and the Dominican Republic navigate and resist global economic structures and exploitative labour conditions through arts-based practices and community organisation. Working together with artists Lucille Junkere, Barbara Prézeau Stephenson, and Rose Sinclair, she is curating the exhibition Cloth / Ffabrig / Twal (now due to take place in Cardiff in 2021). The exhibition explores the personal, social, and ritual meanings of cloth and textiles in African Atlantic contexts, while drawing connections to migration histories to/from Wales. In 2018 she established an international antislavery arts and heritage network at Cardiff with colleagues at Coimbra, Bremen, UNIRIO and UCAD (Dakar).


Adnan Hossain

Adnan Hossain is an interdisciplinary social scientist with interest and expertise in gender and sexual diversity, masculinities, heterosexualities, transgender studies, intersexuality, race, nationalism, epistemology, postcolonial studies, de-colonization, cricket, political economy and global conditions of knowledge production. He is currently a research fellow in the department of social and cultural anthropology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He has completed a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Hull and a postdoctoral fellowship in the ERC-funded Globalsport project at the University of Amsterdam. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Bangladesh, Trinidad, Guyana and Greece. His publications on gender and sexuality have appeared in several journals and edited volumes including Culture, Health and Sexuality, Asian Studies Review, Transgender Studies Quarterly, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Australian Journal of Asian Law and Sage Handbook of Global Sexualities. His monograph tentatively titled ‘Beyond emasculation: Pleasure and power in the making of the hijra’ is contracted with Cambridge University Press. This project not only challenges the dominant representation of hijras as either a third sex or a form of transgender but also the phallocentric logic that obscures alternative sites and sources of bodily power and pleasure. He is also working towards developing a new project on decolonization and the social sciences.


Akin Hubbard

Maki Isaka

Maki Isaka teaches Japanese theater and literature, as well as gender studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, US. Author of Secrecy in Japanese Arts: "Secret Transmission" as a Mode of Knowledge (2005), Onnagata: A Labyrinth of Gendering in Kabuki Theater (2016), and articles on shingeki, gender, etc., Isaka currently works on a project about the performance and theoretical implications of female chanters of "all-male" gidayû music, the audio component of the four-century-old puppet theater, called bunraku today.

Gidayû is the story-telling music, which consists of string-music played by an instrumentalist and narration and all characters' lines projected solo by a single chanter. The puppet theater is an all-male theater, and gidayû male vocal-music, but women have been performing this masculinized vocal-art as stand-alone music in marginalized quarters, under men's names, and sometimes in men's clothing. In premodern times (through 1867) when females' were prohibited from participating in performing arts, they often went through drastic ordeals (e.g., property-confiscation and incarceration). In modern times, they ceased to be subject to such physically violent sentence; epistemological turmoil they faced was no less radical.

Isaka is conducting a research project that examines their performance and its historical and theoretical implications. Females' gidayû-music must be of acute interdisciplinary interest as it provides an excellent case for theoretical contemplation for concepts important to the humanities. The diverse and hybrid nature of their multi-layered "cross-border" performance highlights insidiousness of "border" in many ways: premodern/modern, singing/narrating, passing/non-passing, nature/nurture, and last but not least, femininity/masculinity. Experts of gender performance, including what is usually considered "cross-gender" performance, female gidayû musicians' highly masculinized performance is paired with obvious lack of attempt to "pass," by mixing up these "dichotomies" dynamically.

Maki Isaka
By Ako M. Sahara. At the courtesy of the artist

Ila Nagar

Ila Nagar is a sociolinguist who works on language, sexuality, power, and meaning. Her current project examines how citizenship in modern democracies relies on defining parts of the population in ways that undervalue their place in society. The case in point is Muslims, women, and LGBTQ+ communities in modern day India. Through an analysis of legal documents and media reports, she shows that language plays a critical, albeit overlooked, role in further marginalizing communities that are historically underprivileged. Matters of representation and social hierarchies have become increasingly important as the prosperity of the Indian middle class cloaks the economic and educational stratification more broadly, and as political and popular discourses champion social equality while their language use and portrayals of marginal groups actually reinforce such groups’ marginalization.

Nagar’s first monograph Being Janana: Language and Sexuality in Contemporary India, which was published in 2019, examines how jananas, who are men who desire men but can have heteronormatively masculine positions in society, make meaning of the marginalization of their sexuality and desire. Nagar started fieldwork with members of the janana community in 2003 and her engagement with the community lasted till 2019. Her core argument in Being Janana is that in the janana community, a community that comes together around sexuality and desire, the priorities of individual are reinforced by rejecting desire and embracing normative masculinity. Most of her recent work focuses on the relationship between language, gender, and sexuality; particularly how people negotiate gender and sexual identity through language. Her publications describe the intersection of sexuality, language use, and class in the performance of gender in the lives of a community of male sex workers in India. Nagar also examines the nexus of language, gender and sexuality in the portrayal of sexual violence against women in Indian media. Her discussion of sexuality in India and more broadly in South Asia is built on understanding the connections between the local context of a mid-sized Indian city and more global contexts like legal implications of sexual conduct.


Ladan Rahbari

Ladan Rahbari (she/her) is an assistant professor at the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, where she is a member of the program group Political Sociology – Power, Place, and Difference. She is also a senior researcher at the International Migration Institute (IMI). Rahbari was previously based in Ghent University as a postdoctoral researcher. She was the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship (2019-2022) from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) for her project on Shi’i migrant motherhood and lived religion in Belgium. Rahbari has obtained a Ph.D. in Gender and Diversity (Studies) from UGent and VUB and has a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Mazandaran (“Doctor in de Politieke en Sociale Wetenschappen” in Belgium), a Master’s degree in Anthropology (Tehran University), and a Bachelor’s degree in Italian Literature (Tehran University). She lectures on migration, religion, (digital) media, and gender. Her current research engages with Iranian nationalism and the diaspora in online and offline spaces. She is affiliated with the Centre for Research on Culture and Gender (CRCG) and Centre of Expertise on Gender, Diversity and Intersectionality (RHEA), and the alliance ECSO.be. Rahbari was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies (DiGeSt) between September 2020 and September 2021.

Ladan Rahbari

Terry Rey

Formerly Professeur de sociologie des religions at Université d’État d’Haïti, Terry Rey is Professor of Religion at Temple University. He is the author of dozens of scholarly articles, chapters, and reviews, and author or editor of seven books, including Bourdieu on Religion: Imposing Faith and Legitimacy (Routledge 2007) and The Priest and the Prophetess: Abbé Ouvière, Romaine Rivière, and the Revolutionary Atlantic World (Oxford 2017). Currently he is also editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies.


Tamara J. Walker

Tamara J. Walker is an historian of race, gender, and slavery in Latin America. Her research has received support from the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the American Association of University Women and the John Carter Brown Library, and has appeared in such publications as Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave StudiesSafundi: The Journal of South African and American StudiesGender & History, The Journal of Women's History, and Souls. Her first book, Exquisite Slaves: Race, Clothing and Status in Colonial Lima, was published by Cambridge University Press and received the 2018 Harriet Tubman Prize. She is currently at work on two new book projects, one on the history of slavery and piracy, and the other on black subjects in Latin-American visual culture, which will be published by the University of Texas Press.

Tamara J. Walker