11/19/2014 Jason Klinger

Gender and Human Rights Experts Kick Off Feminist Dialogue Series

Two leading scholars in the fields of human rights and gendered violence, Elora Chowdhury and Amy Den Ouden, will be on campus Nov. 20 to launch the Alice Drum Women's Center Feminist Dialogue Series.

The panel talk, "Gender, Human Rights, and Structural Violence," begins at 4:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Ann & Richard Barshinger Life Sciences and Philosophy Building.

"We are thrilled that Professors Chowdhury and Ouden will kick off this series to engage the campus around a conversation of feminism as something international and transnational," said Mikaela Luttrell-Rowland, director of the center. "We hope this series will shed light on the diverse world of thought that exists within feminist theory, and help expel the American mainstream view of feminism as being a singular or static set of ideas."

Chowdhury and Den Ouden are both associate professors of women's studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Chowdhury is the author of "Transnationalism Reversed: Women Organizing Against Gendered Violence in Bangladesh," which won the National Women's Studies Association Gloria Anzaldua book prize in 2012.

Den Ouden has researched extensively the global effects of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Adopted in 2007, the declaration established "minimum standards for the survival, dignity, wellbeing and rights of the world's indigenous peoples." The Smithsonian Institution and the American Philosophical Society's Phillips Native American Fund have supported her research.

Junior Bill Hamersly of Clarks Summit, Pa., is a longtime member of the center's community and will moderate the panel discussion. He said he is looking forward to hearing the perspectives of Chowdhury and Oden.

"These speakers' work fundamentally departs from a Western-centric interpretation of globalism," he said. "The fact is that power dynamics are reiterated through political action abroad -- through human rights intervention, charity work, financial donations, through various feminisms -- and we need to critically evaluate that. Not only have Chowdhury and Den Ouden been key parts of this conversation for years, they're presenting alternative possibilities for transnational work that avoids affirming the current power structures."

Thursday's talk is sponsored by the Department of Women's and Gender Studies, the International Studies Department, and Academic Innovations. Next semester the series will feature prominent scholars and activists who will question the shift in attention to gender in United Nations organizations, and what this shift may imply in everyday ways.

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