SFU public speaker series uses conversations to spark creative social justice action

February 22, 2021

By Stacey Makortoff

One of the upsides to pivoting to online and remote learning is creating opportunities for people from around the world to join in meaningful and exciting conversations that were logistically harder in pre-COVID times.

Beginning Feb. 25 until Apr. 8, Simon Fraser University’s President’s Dream Colloquium is hosting four incredible scholars and activists for live conversations about employing creativity in social justice research and activism.

And you can join in live conversations with these women from the comfort of your own home!

In celebration of SFU’s Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies’ (GSWS) 50th anniversary, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, in partnership with the SFU President’s Office and SFU Public Square are excited to host online conversations with:

  • Afua Cooper: award-winning Canadian Black History researcher, poet, and speaker;
  • Susan Stryker: Emmy-winning filmmaker and transgender studies scholar;
  • Thea Cacchioni: researcher and activist for female sexual function/dysfunction and the medicalization of female “norms”; and
  • Dana Claxton: critically acclaimed Indigenous exhibiting artist, scholar and researcher.
Afua Cooper

This series of online free public “conversations” kicks off with a celebration of Black History Month and a Conversation with Afua Cooper that includes a poetry reading from her latest book, Black Matters. A senior Canadian Black Studies academic and founder of the Black Canadian Studies Association and the Dalhousie Black Faculty and Staff Caucus, Cooper also was instrumental to the dub poetry movement in Canada and globally, and has won awards and critical acclaim for her poetry, research and other publications. RSVP to join Afua Cooper on Feb. 25 from 3 to 4 p.m. (PST).

Susan Stryker

A Conversation with Susan Stryker comes on the heels of International Women’s Day. Stryker’s research, writing, and documentaries helped shape cultural conversations on transgender topics since the 1990s. She is Professor Emerita of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona and her Emmy-award winning documentary, Screaming Queens brings public awareness to a little-remembered act of resistance at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco in 1966. In addition to a Q&A session, Susan will speak about the development of trans studies, her film and media work, and “At the Crossroads of Turk and Taylor,” her current project about the many types of social justice struggles now transpiring at the site of the former Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco. RSVP to join Susan Stryker on Mar. 11 from 6 to 7 p.m. (PST).

Thea Cacchioni

Rounding out the month of March is a Conversation with Thea Cacchioni, which is also a part of the Maggie Benston Lecture Series. Cacchioni’s research and activism lay at the heart of the medicalization of sex, gender and sexuality broadly and also within the context of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). As a result of her work around FSD, she testified twice at the U.S. Federal Drug Administration against the production and harms of the drug widely known as “Pink Viagra”. Her research with PCOS helps to shed light into stigmas and experiences of women, queer and non-binary understandings that are not typically accounted for within medical frameworks. In addition to a Q&A session, Cacchioni will speak about becoming a scholar activist. RSVP to join Thea Cacchioni on Mar. 25 from 2 to 3 p.m. (PST).

Dana Claxton

The series finale draws to a close with a Conversation with Dana Claxton. Claxton’s award-winning work in film video, photography, single and multi-channel video installation and performance art, creatively investigates Indigenous beauty, the body, the socio-political and the spiritual and has been shown in major venues and galleries around the globe. As head and associate professor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia, Claxton mentors Indigenous youth, emerging artists and filmmakers. Her family reserve is Wood Mountain Lakota First Nations located in southwest Saskatchewan. RSVP to join Dana Claxton on Apr. 8 from 4 to 5 p.m. (PST).