Dr. Guldana Salimjan is the 2020-2021 Ruth Wynn Woodward Junior Chair of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Department. She conducts interdisciplinary research with a focus on ethnicity, nationalism, gender, place, memory, and belonging in Chinese Central Asia.

Ruth Wynn Woodward (RWW) Junior Chair

Dr. Guldana Salimjan 

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-director of 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.

RWW Chair Background

In 1984, with a grant from Secretary of State and matching funds from private donations, an endowed chairship in Women's Studies was established. Private donors included Mrs. Mary Twigg White and Mrs. Elizabeth Russ, daughters of Ruth Wynn Woodward; the Vancouver Foundation; and many other individuals and groups.  The Canadian government, through the Office of the Secretary of State, established five regional chairs across the country in women's studies with an endowment fund at Mt. St Vincent University, Laval University, Ottawa-Carleton Universities (joint chair), University of Manitoba-Winnipeg (joint chair) and Simon Fraser University.

Who was Ruth Wynn Woodward?

The chairship was named for Ruth Wynn Woodward, one of British Columbia's outstanding pioneer women. Through a lifetime of public service and personal accomplishment, she demonstrated the importance of the work of women to Canadian society. As well as raising three children, she was director and vice-president of Woodwards' Stores Ltd., owner/operator of Woodwynn Farm, a founding director of the Junior League of Vancouver, and president of the Women's Auxiliary of Vancouver General Hospital. Ruth Wynn Woodward was also BC’s Chatelaine from 1941-1946, her husband William Culham Woodward was BC’s Lieutenant Governor.

Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair Strategic Plan

In the 2010 budget year, the matched AP‐4 from FASS was withdrawn. Under instruction from Finance, the FASS budget people transferred continuing unfilled faculty lines into the TA/TI budget in the previous year and were then instructed again to cut TA/TI budgets in the current budget shortfall. Read more...

Past Occupants of the RWW Chair

  • Dr. Lucas Crawford
  • Dr. Tiffany Muller Myrdahl
  • Thea Cacchioni, sociologist and activist, 2010 - 2011
  • Dana Claxton, interdisciplinary artist, 2009 - 2010
  • Dr. Afua Cooper, historian, writer, 2008 - 2009
  • Dr. Susan Stryker, philosopher, writer, 2007 - 2008
  • Kate Braid, poet, non-fiction writer, carpenter, 2006 - 2007
  • Elizabeth Philipose, political scientist, 2005 - 2006
  • Louise Chappell, political scientist & senior lecturer, Spring 2005
  • Dr. Sue Wilkinson, psychologist, 2002 - 2004
  • Dionne Brand, poet, novelist and essayist, 2000 - 2002
  • Dr. Sunera Thobani, sociologist and activist, 1996 - 2000
  • Dr. Vanaja Dhruvarajan, sociologist, 1994 - 1995
  • Dr. Hilda Ching, scientist, 1990 - 1991
  • Dr. Marjorie Griffin Cohen, economist, 1989 - 1990
  • Daphne Marlatt, writer and literary critic, 1988 - 1989
  • Rosemary Brown, politician, 1987
  • Dr. Susan Penfold, psychiatrist, 1985 - 1986

For several years, the department offered RWW post-doctoral fellowships. Other programs funded by the RWW endowment include a traveling speaker series; local, national and international conferences; a bi-annual women's studies retreat for instructors from colleges and universities in BC and the Yukon; and sponsorship and co-sponsorship of invited speakers on campus and in the community.

RWW Invited Speakers have included Nicole Brossard, bell hooks, Evelyn Fox Keller, Joy Kogawa, Teresa de Laurentis, Maria Mies, Himani Bannerji, Madhu Kishwar, and Marilyn Waring, among others.

The Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair enables us to make short-term appointments in areas where we lack faculty and to give courses in addition to those we are required to offer.  As well, it provides the resources to host conferences and to invite high-profile speakers to address issues of current interest and concern.  Below is a listing of some of the activities we have undertaken.

Past Conferences sponsored by the Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair: