Ruth Wynn Woodward Program

Ruth Wynn Woodward Junior Chair 2019-2021

Dr Guldana Salimjan
Ruth Wynn Woodward Junior Chair 2019-2021

Dr. Guldana Salimjan is the Ruth Wynn Woodward Junior Chair of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Department. Guldana joins us from the University of British Columbia, where she completed her PhD at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice in 2018. She conducts interdisciplinary research with a focus on ethnicity, nationalism, gender, place, memory, and belonging in Chinese Central Asia. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on ethnic and gender politics in China, history and memories in Global Asia, and feminist research methods.

Her current book project focuses on the intertwined relations between gender, memory, and history under precarious political processes. Based on ethnographic analyses of Northern Xinjiang, China, Guldana tells a story of several generations of Kazakh women’s struggles against the backdrop of Mao era socialist revolution and contemporary ethnic politics in China. Guldana’s work highlights women’s experiences and their creative expressive arts and practices between contested Chinese state nationalism and Kazakh ethnonationalism, both imbued with male-centered historical and literary narratives. Her research and teaching draws on theories of settler colonialism, cultural studies, literary analysis, oral history, and ethnography as a lens to write a social history of ethnic Kazakhs’ survival and resilience through various Chinese social engineering projects carried out under the slogan of development and stability.

Guldana embeds her work deeply in the everyday gender and ethnic politics of Central Asia and aims to bring this lesser known region into discussions of Western academic feminism and Global Asia studies. Working on politically precarious places such as Xinjiang, Guldana abides feminist methodological training when exploring thorny issues of representation, ethics, and the production of knowledge. She has published research articles in Central Asia Survey and contributed essays to Central Eurasian Studies Society forum, Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia, and Radii ChinaGuldana’s second project examines communal authorship of Kazakh genealogy publications as a site of knowledge production entangled in imperial anthropological theories, local histories, oral literature, and folklore. This project analyzes genealogical narratives as a kaleidoscopic lens into the interactions of power, historical representation, and cultural memory.

Since 2017, the Chinese state and military authorities in Xinjiang have detained more than one million Muslim Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and members of other Indigenous groups in heavily policed re-education camps using the pretext of ‘counterterrorism.’ Guldana researches, documents, and publishes about this ongoing atrocity under the pen-name Yi Xiaocuo. You can find her publications in the journal Chinoiresie – Made in ChinaSupChina, and the edited volume Afterlives of Chinese Communism: Political Concepts from Mao to Xi. Besides academic knowledge production, Guldana also actively engages in public scholarship and community outreach. She founded the Camp Album, a multi-media documentation project that showcases art and literature related to the human rights abuse and cultural genocide in Xinjiang. This project aims to provide communal healing and solidarity for diasporic Muslim communities out of China. She is also the co-curator, translator, and researcher for the Xinjiang Documentation Project at UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs which systematically documents the ongoing mass incarceration of Turkic Muslims.

When Guldana is not researching and writing, she likes to walk on Vancouver’s beaches, watch sci-fi movies, do push-ups, find time to travel, and try new recipes.

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.