Critical Perspectives on Gender and Colonialism

Primary author: Pavithra Narayanan

Primary college/unit: Arts and Sciences
Campus: Vancouver


In a globalized world, heir to two centuries of unprecedented economic, social, political, environmental, and cultural transformation, few changes are as radical as anti-colonial and feminist challenges to patriarchal gender and sexuality conventions. Converging threads in the disciplines of History, English, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies to highlight the divergent effects of colonialism, anti-colonialism, and post-colonialism globally, WSU Vancouver and Pullman Humanities faculty organized a spring 2019 interdisciplinary Gender and Colonialism Humanities Symposium at the WSU Vancouver campus. This collaborative project was sponsored by the WSU Arts & Humanities Center.
The poster will highlight the innovative research of ten scholars from West Coast universities who were invited to participate in the symposium. The first panel on “decolonizing history/historiographies” examined how the academe privileges certain discourses while excluding others and reinterpreting gendered themes like motherhood and family from the perspectives of activism, agency, and desire. The second, on “dissonant/unruly bodies,” offered deeply nuanced interpretations of how enslaved Jamaican women perceived their own mothering practices; contemporary mythologies of orientalized bellydancing in Latin America; a memoir and investigation of queer/trans spaces in Los Angeles; and a historical investigation of healthy women assigned to do the laundry of people suffering from leprosy in Molakai. The final panel, “Gendered Spaces in Empire,” was historical and focused on ideologies of gender in Mexico, Okinawa, and India. The discussion that followed brought back the morning’s calls to “decolonization of the academe” to consider the political implications of the ways that some historical arguments framed their inquiries.