Spring 2015 Colloquium Seminars

Tuesday talks, SFU Burnaby
Free and open to all. Brown bag lunch


Very Near History: Performing Histories, Contesting Sexual Health Policies

Cindy Patton, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, SFU

February 3rd

Cindy Patton is works in American Cultural Studies with a focus on social movements related to gender, sexuality and race. Her current work considers sexual representation and sexual culture in the US of the 1970s, most importantly, the gay health movement in the years between Stonewall and the AIDS crisis.

Abstract: The already-critiqued "archival turn" in the humanities raised questions of how to treat elipses and odd materials of the past, and what it might "feel like" to craft a new relationship to barely visible histories. In this paper, I consider the political and ethical value of textual rearrangement and juxtapositional performance as a methods for reinvigorating what we might call "very near history," those periods that are relatively close in time but affectively closed off by dramatic events that generate extreme presentist interpretations. I am specifically interested in gay men's sex lives in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time that presentist histories consider to spans the "before and after" of Stonewall, and that also lies "before" the breach in sexual morality supposedly wrought by the appearance of the HIV epidemic. Using archival materials from the gay health movement, gay novels, and found stories, I work from the concept of "phrase universe," drawn from Jean Francois Lyotard's work on judgement and feeling to suggest that current HIV sexual health policies fail to mobilize gay community resourcefulness.

Voices of Diversity: Performing Traditional Songs in the Global Age?

Virginie Magnat, Associate Professor, Joint Appointment in Creative and Critical Studies Interdisciplinary Performance Program Coordinator, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, The University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus

February 24

Dr. Virginie Magnat is an Assiociate Professor in Creative and Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia. She holds a Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of California where she also was a Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow in Anthropology. Magnat’s monograph Grotowski, Women, and Contemporary Performance: Meetings with Remarkable Women (Routledge 2014) received the Canadian Association for Theatre Research Ann Saddlemyer Book Award Honorable Mention. Magnat’s book and companion documentary film series featured on the Routledge Performance Archive (http://www.routledgeperformancearchive.com) constitute the first investigation of the artistic journeys and current artistic practices of women who collaborated with influential theatre innovator Jerzy Grotowski. Magnat’s four years of embodied research and multi-sited fieldwork were supported by two SSHRC grants, and she discusses her interdisciplinary methodology in book chapters and articles published in North American and international scholarly journals in the fields of theatre and performance studies, anthropology, ethnomusicology, sociology, qualitative inquiry, and literary criticism, in English, French, Polish, Italian, and Spanish.

Abstract: Traditional songs have been recognized by UNESCO as a powerful expression of human creativity belonging to our shared “intangible cultural heritage.? Singing is a vital component of traditional music since it ensures the continuity of endangered languages rooted in ancestral cultural knowledge whose resilience crucially depends on oral modes of transmission. My new research project investigates how reclaiming marginalized cultural and linguistic practices through the performance of traditional songs might challenge exclusionary constructions of national identity, and promote cultural diversity, social inclusivity, and transnational solidarity.

I am conducting embodied research on my own tradition of Occitania, a culturally heterogeneous imagined community that extends from Marseille to Toulouse and into bordering regions of Spain and Italy. The Occitan language was spoken in France until the second half of the twentieth century, yet it has been nearly eradicated by the politics of cultural assimilation implemented by the state through the systematic imposition of French as the official national language. In the 1960s, Occitan activists adopted the phrase “internal colonialism? from the American Civil Rights Movement to describe this oppressive form of state-regulated centralism. Today, the resilience of regional cultural and linguistic practices manifests itself most significantly in the on-going transmission of traditional songs in Occitan.

Supporting expressions of cultural diversity is now becoming increasingly urgent to counteract the steady ascendancy of the National Front, whose fascist discourse is dangerously destabilizing mainstream French politics and contributing to the rise of extreme right-wing movements throughout Europe. I hence foreground the intercultural dimension of Mediterranean vocal music practices, shaped by the vibrant convergence of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian worldviews, and highlight the radical political lineage of the Occitan music revival by tracing it to a 1970s social movement promoting cultural, linguistic, and bio-regional diversity in Occitania. Described by cultural historian Herman Lebovics as a form of postcolonial regionalism, this influential movement foreshadows twenty-first century social and environmentalist movements advocating political action through cultural activism. My long-term goal for this project is to elicit a wider debate on cultural diversity, national identity, and global citizenship among North American and European communities of scholars, artists, cultural practitioners and activists.

Law, Gender and Colonial (Re)production: the Geopolitics of Human Trafficking

Kendra Strauss, Assistant Professor, Labour Studies Program and the Morgan Centre for Labour Research, SFU

March 31

Kendra Strauss is a a labour geographer and feminist political economist with teaching and research interests in the areas of labour market change, welfare regimes, and systems of regulation. Currently an Assistant Professor of Labour Studies at SFU, and Associate Member in the Department of Geography, Kendra completed her doctoral work in the School of Geography at the University of Oxford and has held positions at the University of Glasgow and the University of Cambridge.

Abstract: This paper explores how international legal and political approaches to trafficking actively produce and reproduce relations of colonialism, which also simultaneously produce and reproduce regimes of accumulation grounded in the exercise of geopolitical power. Both sets of processes are profoundly gendered. I begin with a brief discussion of the relationship between ‘old’ and ‘new’ forms of slavery, and the epistemological and legal relationship between trafficking and slavery. I then examine the evolution of two political-legal approaches to trafficking, one related to and articulated through CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) and the other through the ‘Palermo Protocols’ (especially the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children). I focus in particular on the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report issued by the U.S. Department of State as a geopolitical expression of the legal rationality implicit in the Protocol. Drawing on feminist approaches to geopolitics in Geography, I examine how this rationality relates to the gendered, embodied construction of victimhood, which both re-inscribes the distinction between ‘sexual exploitation’ and ‘work’, and elides the question of the relationship between economic development and trafficking.