Feminist Futures Research Symposium

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Event Date

International Center Multipurpose Room

Scholars from across the disciplines meet to envision a more just world, and move us in that direction.

January 23, 2020 | 12-6pm | UC Davis International Center, Multipurpose Room


12pm Lunch

12:30 Keynote: Alisa Bierria

1:45 Panel: Anuj Vaidya, Mercedes Villalba, Maya Weeks

2:45 Panel: Maya Cruz, Seon-Hye Moon, Jennifer Mogannam

4:10 Keynote: Kara Keeling

About the Keynotes

Alisa Bierria (Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside), "Feminist Futures & the Rupturous Potential of Care"

In this talk, I contend that the analytic of care can be understood as a form of political resistance to systemic racialized gender violence and, as such, a bridge towards enabling modes of human connection that challenge the social fractures produced and required by racial capitalism. To illustrate, I consider three such sites of contemporary abolitionist feminist organizing that strategically incorporate practices of care into their freedom tactics and political vision for the sustenance of collective life: participatory defense and decarceral campaigns to release incarcerated people with a focus on survivors of domestic and sexual violence and Black mothers; organized prison visiting and letter writing efforts; and the development of community accountability and transformative justice as strategies to address domestic and sexual violence outside of the carceral state. Examining contexts, tactics, and tensions of these activist formations, I contend that these strategies are developed by abolitionist feminist organizers for their “rupturous potential,” to use Jodi Melamed’s phrase, to support the survival of those lives rendered disposable by various forms of carceral violence, and to cultivate social connections that contest systems of anti-relationality produced and required by racial capitalism.

Kara Keeling, (Cinema & Media Studies, University of Chicago), "Toward 'an Empiricism that Invites Surprises'"

In this talk, I extend and expand upon the formulation that closes my book Queer Times, Black Futures, that of “an empiricism that invites surprises.” I suggest that as a mode of “poetic knowledge,” “an empiricism that invites surprises” might serve as a method that can anchor knowledge production and truth claims in a time when the very terms through which what facts constitute our shared reality seem contested. In the context of the conference theme of “Black Feminist Futures,” I develop the concept of “an empiricism that invites surprises” in order to suggest that our efforts to anchor Black feminism today might itself be an enactment of those Black feminist futures that retain the potential to surprise us.

About the Theme

The Feminist Research Institute’s 2019-2020 theme “Feminist Futures” points towards the need to engage in research practices that imagine a more just world and move us in that direction. Feminists of color along with indigenous and queer scholars, social justice scientists, writers, and artists all recognize the importance of envisioning the world toward which we want to grow.

Their work draws upon histories of resistance in order to engage in forward-looking speculative practices that often challenge traditional models of progress and innovation. The urgency of problems facing us around the world pushes us to develop new forms of knowledge and practice that build a future where the most precarious among us have access to the resources needed for a full life.

This means both amplifying the voices of those who have been historically and systematically disadvantaged, and acknowledging that they must be our leaders in providing insight to what is needed to bring about that reality.

Sharing a goal of Feminist Futures requires us to use imagination to work past what seems impossible, remaining attuned to how change—whether technological or social—affects the most vulnerable. Feminist Futures are interdisciplinary—weaving together humanities and social sciences with science, technology, and medicine. It is hard work, because we will likely not all agree on what the future should look like, but this tension is part of the process.

We invite you to join us in that process at the Feminist Futures Research Symposium.


Banner Art: "Measure of Time," Jose Arenas, donated by the artist.


Co-sponsored By:

African American and African Studies | American Studies | Cinema & Digital Media | Education | English | Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies | Imagining America | College of Letters & Science | Cultural Studies

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