2022 IRWG/Rackham Community of Scholars Symposium


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Participants : 
  • Haley Bowen, PhD Candidate, History, College of LSA
  • Hayley R. Bowman, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Eisenberg Institute of Historical Studies
  • Paloma Soledad Contreras Zúñiga, PhD Candidate, Anthropology, College of LSA
  • Janice Feng, PhD Candidate, Political Science, College of LSA
  • Luis Flores, PhD Candidate, Sociology, College of LSA
  • Pau Nava, PhD Candidate, American Culture, College of LSA
  • Leanna Papp, PhD Candidate, Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies, College of LSA
  • DeAnna Smith, PhD Candidate, Sociology, College of LSA
  • Moderator: Victor Román Mendoza, Associate Professor, Women's and Gender Studies and English, College of LSA
Event Date: 
September 23, 2022
Event Time: 
10:00am to 1:30pm
Michigan League Koessler Room (3rd Floor) - Please register for lunch: myumi.ch/n8eRR

This symposium features interdisciplinary, feminist scholarship from some of the University of Michigan’s most promising graduate students. 

The IRWG/Rackham Community of Scholars Fellowship is a highly competitive program for PhD candidates from across the Ann Arbor campus. In spring, the fellows participate in a weekly seminar designed to foster cross-disciplinary dialogue and peer reviews of a dissertation chapter or article. Over the summer, the scholars continue their research and writing. They reconvene for the annual Community of Scholars Symposium to share the product of their summer’s work with each other and a broader audience. 

Register for lunch by 9/15/22

Masks Required


Symposium Schedule:

10:00 - 10:10 AM: Opening Remarks, Victor Román Mendoza, Associate Professor, Women's and Gender Studies and English, College of LSA

10:10 - 11:30 AM: Panel 1, Ambivalent Self-Making: Embodiment, Institutions, Empire

Panel Chair: Abigail Dumes, Assistant Professor Women's and Gender Studies, and author of Divided Bodies: Lyme Disease, Contested Illness, and Evidence-Based Medicine (Duke University Press, 2020)

Panelists: Hayley Bowman, Haley Bowen, Luis Flores, Janice Feng

Speaker: Hayley R. Bowman, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Eisenberg Institute of Historical Studies
Title: Transcendence, Embodiment, and Perception in Early Modern Spanish Mysticism
Abstract: This paper examines early modern Spanish mysticism through the lens of Sor María de Jesús de Ágreda, a Franciscan nun and eventual abbess of the Convento de la Concpeción in Ágreda, Spain. Sor Maria rose to prominence in the 1630s due to reports of her ability to “bilocate,” or be in two places simultaneously. Investigations by religious officials and the Holy Office of the Inquisition revealed that Sor María made over 500 “visits” to preach to the Jumanos, a group of Indigenous peoples in northernmost New Spain, in the region of New Mexico. I contextualize Sor María’s abilities to transcend time and space in larger premodern understandings of mystical embodiment and perception in Counter-Reformation Spain to argue that her remarkable experiences emerged from an established hagiographic legacy of sororial dialogues and her medieval foremothers. 

Speaker: Haley E. Bowen, PhD Candidate, History
Title: Before Disability: Monstrosity and Impairment in the Early Modern Convent
Abstract: This paper presents an episode in the life of Marie-Anne Taxis, a woman with dwarfism who lived at the Feuillantine convent in eighteenth-century Paris. When Taxis attempted to leave the convent to marry at the age of thirty-four, her relatives obtained an order for her imprisonment, arguing that her small size and ‘deformity’ ought to prevent her from entering into a sacramental union. Deprived of legal personhood as a result of her ‘monstrous’ and ‘unnatural’ body, Taxis fought to reclaim her autonomy. This article traces this struggle, contextualizing it within the intersecting discourses of monstrosity and unnaturalness that governed others’ perception of her capacities and legal powers. 

Speaker: Luis Flores, PhD Candidate, Sociology
Title: Legalizing Work From Home: Industrial Homework and the Social Limits of 'Breadwinner Liberalism'
Abstract: In the 1980s, garment labor organizers concerned with immigrant sweatshops, Reagan administration labor regulators, and middle-class women, clashed over the significance and desirability of resurgent “home-based” work. This chapter traces the clashes and inversions of gender ideology and conceptions of racialized economic informality as the federal administration sought to lift a New Deal-era ban on industrial homework while promoting women-led home enterprises in the 1980 and 1990s. Flores argues that the social contradictions embedded in the protective legislation of “breadwinner liberalism” shaped conservative market ideology and labor strategy as federal labor restructuring re-drew the boundaries between home and market.

Speaker: Janice Feng, PhD Candidate, Political Science
Title: The Desire to Suffer? Asceticism, Piety, and Indigenous Women’s Self-Making in Seventeenth-Century Nouvelle-France
Abstract: In this essay I closely examine colonial archival sources to reconstruct such practices and attend to Indigenous women’s ascetic practices to show the meaning-making, self-making, and world-making capacity of such practices. I argue that Indigenous women’s ascetic practices show us a creative and productive way of being-in-the-world and being-with-others. These acts, as I will show, point to rupture and displacement, and can challenge colonial domination aimed at disciplining bodies and cultivating desire, showing us how colonial power was both embodied and contested, or rather contested through embodiment.

11:30 - 12PM: Lunch (provided for registered attendees)

12:00 - 1:20PM: Panel 2, Identifying and Responding to Symbolic Annihilation

Panel Chair: Andrea Bolivar, Assistant Professor Women's and Gender Studies, who is completing a manuscript entitled “We Are a Fantasy:” Trans Latina Ways of Knowing, Being, and Loving, which ethnographically examines the experiences of sex working transgender Latinas in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Panelists: Pau Nava, Leanna Papp, DeAnna Smith, Paloma Contreras

Speaker: DeAnna Y. Smith, PhD Candidate, Sociology
Title: Shuffle Out, Shuffle In: Middle-Class Black Mothers’ Responses to Child Protective Services Reports
Abstract: Researchers have shown how contact with punitive state authorities shapes the lives of poor Black mothers but have paid less attention to the role of punitive state authorities in the lives of Black middle-class mothers. Drawing on in-depth, open-ended interviews with 29 middle-class Black mothers who have recently been investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS)—a punitive state institution with the ability to terminate parental rights—this article asks how Black mothers who are not poor assess risk of future CPS contact and navigate the threats it poses. Armed with far greater resources than poor mothers, middle-class Black mothers use a variety of strategies to prevent future CPS contact—among them, a resource-intensive evasion strategy that involves shuffling their children out of certain types of institutions and into others. I find that middle-class Black mothers shuffle their children out of public institutions and into private ones, out of predominantly white institutions and into predominantly Black ones, and out of institutions where they have weak ties and into institutions where they have strong ties. While this institutional shuffling may protect middle-class Black mothers and their children from future CPS contact, it may also shrink mothers’ networks, isolate children from a broad array of institutional resources, and inadvertently expose middle-class Black families to greater surveillance and punishment.

Speaker: Leanna Papp, PhD Candidate, Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies
Title: "They have no respect for our bodies": Young women’s explanations for sexualized aggression at the beginning and end of college
Abstract: Young people view sexualized aggression as a natural and expected, yet often unwanted, aspect of nightlife. I interviewed 15 undergraduate women during their first and fourth years at a large, public university in the Midwest United States about their experiences with and perceptions of sexualized aggression in social drinking spaces. I found that participants made sense of sexualized aggression by drawing on cultural discourses about gender, sexual assault, and university social environments, and I will discuss changes in how and when these discourses were utilized.

Speaker: Paloma Contreras, PhD Candidate, Biological Anthropology
Title: “Sometimes I feel desperate, but then I get used to it”: perceptions of water scarcity and the embodiment of distress in Mexico City
Abstract: In Mexico City, the number of households connected to the public water supply has rapidly increased over the last three decades. Still, with almost 22 million inhabitants, the metropolitan area of the Valley of Mexico is constantly threatened by water scarcity. This study explores whether the perception of water scarcity is a socio-environmental exposure that impacts women’s health. Using qualitative data from 60 working-class households across Mexico City, this study reflects on women’s lived experiences of water uncertainty and shows the different ways through which fear of water scarcity constitutes a source of distress. While expanding the coverage of piped water is important, this study reveals the extent to which intermittent, unpredictable water supply, and fear of water scarcity are concerns that can impact well-being.

Speaker: Pau Nava, PhD Candidate, American Culture
Title: Corazonada: Care and the Circulation of the Diana Solis Collection
Abstract: In dialogue with affect theory and Chicana feminist praxis, an archival corazonada refers to the intimate act of collecting records within marginalized communities that in their culmination serve as documentary evidence of counterhistories challenging dominant narratives of local history. This moves beyond physical repositories and extends the archival understanding of a record to include the voices of elders, muralism, and intergenerational dialogue alongside the circulation of art from the 1970s-1980s. This paper explores lessons learned from archiving Chicago artist Diana Solis' photography collection as part of the Chicana por mi raza digital archive. Coined by Solis, an archival corazonada inspires expansive archival practices within queer community that illustrate the important connections between artists and personal recordkeeping within the Chicana/o movement.

1:20-1:30 PM: Closing remarks / End of symposium

Register to be included in the lunch

View the program: tinyurl.com/IrwgCOS2022 (PDF)