Ruth Wynn Woodward Program

Ruth Wynn Woodward Junior Chair 2019-2021

Dr Guldana Salimjan
Ruth Wynn Woodward Junior Chair 2019-2021

On behalf of the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Gender Studies, we are delighted to announce our newest Ruth Wynn Woodward Junior Chair. Dr Guldana Salimjan will join the department for a two-year appointment beginning on 1 September 2019.

Dr Salimjan joins us from the University of British Columbia, where she recently completed her PhD at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice. Her innovative and interdisciplinary research on nationalism and memory in China and Central Eurasia examines Kazakh ethnic minorities and the mass incarceration of Muslims in Xinjiang, China. Her research draws on models of settler colonialism, literary analysis, oral history, and ethnography, and she has published widely on Kazakh women’s literature, women in post-Socialist Mongolia, and China’s War on Terror. She is leading the crucially important Xinjiang Documentation Project, which is documenting the mass incarceration of Muslims in China and is working closely with the Uyghur diaspora living in British Columbia. Dr Salimjan will be teaching courses on Gender and Ethnicity in Contemporary China, and Violence, Gender, and Memory in Global Asia.

Ruth Wynn Woodward Postdoctoral Fellow 2017-2019

Ela Przybylo
Ruth Wynn Woodward Postdoctoral Fellow 2017-2019

Asexuality Studies Scholar and Feminist Editor

Ela is delighted to be undertaking work as the Ruth Wynn Woodward Fellow in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University, located on unceded Coast Salish Territory, the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Kwikwetlem First Nations. Born in Wrocław, Poland and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Ela has a Bachelor of Design, a BA (Honors) in Women’s Studies, an MA in English and Film Studies and Women’s Studies (all from the University of Alberta), and a PhD in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies from York University. In 2016-2017 she was a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University. Ela is also a Founding and Advisory Co-Editor and designer of the online feminist journal Feral Feminisms (

Focusing on the sexual identity and orientation of asexuality, Ela works on increasing the visibility of asexual communities, knowledges, and identifications in feminist and sexuality scholarship. Ela’s forthcoming book Asexual Erotics: Intimate Readings of Compulsory Sexuality (under advanced contract with Ohio State University Press) explores asexuality as facilitating a distinct form of erotic relating, drawing on the contributions of Audre Lorde and asexuality studies scholarship. Her work on asexuality includes the coining of the term “sexusociety” for exploring compulsory sexuality (Sexualities 2011), a co-authored methodological consideration of the implications of asexuality for queer theory (GLQ 2014), an analysis of a series of interviews with asexually-identified cisgender men (in Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives 2014), a brief exploration of asexuality in conversation with transgender studies (TSQ 2016), an examination of the scientific discourses around asexuality (Feminism & Psychology 2013), an intersectional overview of asexual community and research in the third edition of Introducing the New Sexuality Studies (2016), a co-written auto-ethnographic reflection on transnational post-socialist approaches to sexuality education (Memories of (Post)socialist Childhood and Schooling 2018), and a forthcoming co-written piece on asexual queer activism in the Polish context (in LGBTI+ Activism in Post-Soviet Spaces). While at SFU, Ela is thrilled to be teaching the first ever university-level course on asexuality offered anywhere, entitled “Critical Nonsexualities.” The class explores asexuality from intersectional and interdisciplinary perspectives, includes two fieldtrips (to the UBC Sexual Health Lab with thanks to Lori Brotto and to a Vancouver ace-meetup at Qmmunity with thanks to Justine Munich), and asks students to build an asexual archive in the face of the historical absence of asexuality in LGBTQ2+ spaces. During her time at SFU, Ela is hosting talks and conferences on asexuality, such as the “Asexual Countercultures” and zine-making event co-organized with local ace activist Justine Munich and a first of its kind asexuality studies conference, co-organized with U.S. asexuality scholar KJ Cerankowski and planned for 2018.

In addition to teaching and researching asexuality, Ela is involved in a praxis-based approach to feminist digital cultures and feminist publishing through the inter/multimedia journal Feral Feminisms, which she co-founded in 2013. Through work on the journal, Ela has been involved in thinking about how feminist knowledge is made, how it circulates, and how it is in constant dialogue with activism, social media, and cultural production. Towards exploring these issues, Ela has been awarded a Teaching and Learning Development Grant to develop a course at SFU on “Intersectional Feminist Journal Praxis” which will bridge academic and popular feminism, art and text, practice and theory, scholarship and activism towards collectively developing—from start to finish—an inaugural issue of an undergraduate journal. Through this collaborative and hands-on course, students will have opportunities to think about the praxis of intersectional feminist action, the meanings of multiple voices and inter-media collaboration, and the dynamics of power flows and injustice. Ela’s interest in feminist digital cultures also extends to her scholarly contributions and she is at present co-editing a special issue of Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology—a leading journal in gender and digital media—on the aesthetics of transnational protest, entitled “Visualizing Protest: Transnational Approaches to the Aesthetics of Dissent” (forthcoming 2018).

Working on cultivating an academic practice grounded in feminist collaboration, art, and creative writing, Ela is also proud of her recent nonfiction exploration of accents in “Bilingual Loneliness” (“Name Tags” series, Entropy 2017) and a crip reading of the invisibility of menstrual pain (Feminist Formations, forthcoming 2018, co-authored). Finally, Ela is the co-editor of two projects on bodies and representation: a special issue entitled “Hysteria Manifest: Cultural Lives of a Great Disorder” in the leading English Studies journal in Canada, English Studies in Canada (2014) and a forthcoming book project On the Politics of Ugliness (Palgrave 2018).

Ela is excited to work alongside and in conversation with feminist publishing and asexual communities in Vancouver, and invites collaborations, coven-making, and cranky-friendships in this regard. Please contact her with ideas and suggestions for overthrowing (in the words of bell hooks) the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy and its attachments to compulsory sexuality, ableism, settler colonialism, and the gender binary. If you are curious about name pronunciation, please visit

On the Politics of Ugliness, co-edited by Ruth Wynn Woodward Postdoctoral Fellow Ela Przybylo and Sara Rodrigues is now published!

Ugliness or unsightliness is much more than a quality or property of an individual’s appearance—it has long functioned as a social category that demarcates access to social, cultural, and political spaces and capital. The editors of and authors in this collection harness intersectional and interdisciplinary approaches in order to examine ugliness as a political category that is deployed to uphold established notions of worth and entitlement. On the Politics of Ugliness identifies and challenges the harmful effects that labels and feelings of ugliness have on individuals and the socio-political order. It explores ugliness in relation to the intersectional processes of racialization, colonization and settler colonialism, gender-making, ableism, heteronormativity, and fatphobia. On the Politics of Ugliness asks that we fight against visual injustice and imagine new ways of seeing.