provoke your assumptions
Provoke your assumptions, challenge your beliefs and grow as a student and citizen by engaging in dialogue, research and scholarly collaboration at the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice. Bringing together faculty, students and experts in gender-related fields in the arts, humanities and social and natural sciences, the Fisher Center fosters mutual understanding and social justice in our contemporary society.
Since its founding in 1998, the Fisher Center has brought hundreds of national and international experts to campus to explore the facets and implications of one driving question: How do we more nearly realize, through our educational program, scholarship and presence in the larger community, our democratic ideals of equity, mutual respect, and common interest in relations between men and women?
- The Fisher Center was endowed with a $1 million gift from Emily and the late Richard Fisher, whose son Alexander graduated in 1993.
- It was inaugurated in October 1998, with an event titled "Engendering the Future: Educating Women, Educating Men, Educating Women and Men," that featured noted experts Carol Gilligan, professor of psychology and the Patricia Albjerg Chair of Gender Studies at Harvard University; and Michael Kimmel, who has written and edited many books on the topic of masculinity.
- The Fisher Center's 20th anniversary was celebrated with an official name change from The Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men to the The Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice, moving away from the limits of binary conceptions of gender while continuing to lead the campus and community dialogue on pressing issues around gender and social equity. A series of special events took place in the 2018-19 academic year including a keynote speech by internationally renowned activist, professor and author Angela Davis.
Chains signify connections across boundaries; yet they can also keep bodies captive and confined. The pandemic years forced us to grapple with the issue of interdependence, where supply chains became interrupted or broken beyond repair. Haven’t we also discovered that there are relations or dependency or tethering that go beyond logistics and stretch deep into our collective psyches via affect, street politics, art and spontaneous expression? Don’t viral transmission chains connect and divide us as effectively as supply and demand?
Chain reactions cause cascading effects ranging from climate change to nuclear reactions. Chains manifest in relations of circulations – of data, money, bodies and goods. Blockchain technology, while feeding off dreams of liberation from societies of control, enables new forms of value capture, profiteering and tether-free capital accumulation; it pollutes the environment during “mining.” “Chains” expose the continued, inescapable dependence of virtual upon the material, financial upon the ecological, global upon the local.
Fall 2023 Speaker Series
212 Demarest, 7 p.m.
The Community Ideal and the Multi-Criterial Economy in the History of Political Thought
Aaron Benanav is a sociologist, economic historian, and the author of acclaimed Automation and the Future of Work (Verso, 2020). One of his new book projects concerns the idea of a "post-scarcity" economics; the other examines the global history of unemployment since 1940. Benanav's research interests include automation and the future of work, unemployment and underemployment, economic growth and development, critical theory and alternative economic systems.
212 Demarest, 7 p.m.
The Fingering Lakes: Histories of Queer Love in Upstate NY
Kit Hermanson (they/them) is this year's Fisher Center Pre-Doctoral Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in Religion at Columbia University. Their dissertation work examines non-binary sex and gender forms as they appear in 19th century American religious history. The genealogy their work constructs demonstrates how religious and spiritual ideas and practices created the cultural conditions of possibilty for interior, gendered self-conceptualization and identity disconnected from exterior, sexed corporeality that defines non-binary identity in the 21st century.
212 Demarest, 7 p.m.
Juno Salazar Parrenas is an associate professor of science and technology studies and feminist, gender and sexuality studies at Cornell University. She examines human-animal relations, environmental issues, and efforts to institutionalize justice. She is the author of Decolonizing Extinction: The Work of Care in Orangutan Rehabilitation (Duke UP, 2018). Her current projects include Co(w)-Evolution from the Holocene to the Anthropocene; Geriatric Care for a Tropical Polar Bear; Short Stories, Long Lives: Animal Retirement on an Overworked Planet, and others.
212 Demarest, 7 p.m.
Pete Howson is an assistant professor in geography and international development at Northumbria University. He is the author of Let Them Eat Crypto: The blockchain scam that's ruining the world, forthcoming with Pluto Press.
With cryptocurrencies, NFTs and metaverse markets crashing, the underlying blockchain technology is still promised to solve global development challenges, whilst revolutionizing every industry. But is the technology really a silver bullet?
2023-2024 Faculty Research Fellows
Jonathan Forde, Professor of Mathematics and Co-Chair of the Data Analytics Program
As a mathematical biologist, he uses differential equation models to explore questions in virology, immunology and epidemiology. His project for the Fisher Center focuses on interdependency and constraint in public policy responses to outbreaks of epidemic disease. By understanding the often-nonintuitive links between alternative approaches, the project aims to create robust and adaptable modeling tools to help with future epidemics.
Feisal Khan, Professor of Economics and Affiliated Faculty in International Relations and Asian Studies
His general research interests include the political economy of Islamic banking and finance, corruption and governance, with a particular regional focus on Pakistan. His Fisher Center project “Neither Ceremonially Deist Nor Islamic Modernist but an Islamic Republic: The Long Gestation (’48-56) and Short Life (’56-58) of Pakistan’s First ‘Islamic’ Constitution” will trace how Pakistan underwent the transformation from a functionally secular, i.e., Islamic Modernist, state in 1948 to an ‘Islamic Republic’ by 1956 to its current status of Islamic Maximalism where virtually every significant aspect of the state has to be Islamically justified. The project shall trace the linkages and interconnections between the Indian Muslim’s demand for Pakistan in the 1940s and its inability to agree upon a constitution for almost a decade after independence, and how its most recent constitution (ratified in 1973 and extensively amended in the 1980s) became Pakistan’s most overtly Islamic one.
Kristen Brubaker, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
She works at the intersection of forest ecology, landscape ecology and critical zone science. She earned a Ph.D. in Forest Science from Penn State University, a M.S. in Geosciences from Mississippi State University, and a B.S. in secondary Education from Penn State University. Her work with the Fisher Center will link historic land use with current ecosystem function. What are the chains that link past human practices to contemporary ecology? Although humans have had an overarching negative impact on ecosystem function, some historic land uses can lead to habitat improvements. The project will explore how anthropogenic features on the landscape can actually increase the resiliency of ecosystems to disturbance and land use change.
Kit Hermanson (they/them), Fisher Center Pre-Doctoral Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in Religion at Columbia University
Their dissertation work examines non-binary sex and gender forms as they appear in 19th century American religious history. The genealogy their work constructs demonstrates how religious and spiritual ideas and practices created the cultural conditions of possibility for interior, gendered self-conceptualization and identity disconnected from exterior, sexed corporeality that defines non-binary identity in the 21st century.
Betty M. Bayer, Interdisciplinary Feminist Scholar and Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Intersectional Justice
She publishes on the history of psychology, most recently on the field’s mid-1950s introduction of the theory of cognitive dissonance in the context of the persistence of beliefs in end-time prophecies. As a Fisher Center Fellow, Bayer explores cognitive dissonance’s chain of movement from inner psychological discord crying out for resolution (consider Barbie’s aha cognitive dissonance moment) to the emblem of this age of becoming inured to noise and disruption and competing, conflicting discourses. The psychological hold of these chains of division and rife (in politics and elsewhere) run counter to dissonance’s other meanings found in music, sound and soundscapes. Bayer asks: Would looking at noise and disruption differently break the hold of these virulent chain reactions? Does dissonance’s (obscured) history in music and sound studies offer a key to dwelling differently, to placing sound at the center of our work, to listen creatively to the sounds of what might be an age breaking up?
Cynthia Williams, Professor of Dance
She teaches courses in dance criticism and embodied writing, dance composition, dance history, improvisation, modern dance technique and Laban Movement Analysis. Recent scholarly work has included choreography for 12 dancers based on Tarot card imagery, a podcast for Jacob’s Pillow on the choreographer Jane Comfort, and the performance of a solo commissioned from artist Paula Josa-Jones. Her Fisher Center project is a sustained exploration and practice of the movement patterns known in the LBMA system as Patterns of Total Body Connectivity, and how these kinetic chains may provide insight into parallel patterns of connectivity/disconnectivity in my thinking, writing, personal, professional and/or creative expressions of self. PTBCs remind us of the possibility of change and the beauty of interconnectedness we carry within our bodies; by awakening to the pathways and support systems already present in our bodies, we can experience both the grounding these patterns provide and the possibilities of choice they offer.
Anastasia C. Wilson, Assistant Professor in the Economics Department
She teaches courses on political economy, debt and the U.S. economy, economics and gender, and Marxist political economy. Her research focuses on the intersections of social reproduction, gender, race and carceral systems. She is currently working on a project to critically examine the concept of “care” in economics.
Take your curiosity beyond the classroom and complete research around issues of race, gender and class through the Stephen W. Woodworth ’54 Fisher Center Student Summer Fellowship. Over the course of a summer, students will conduct research under the guidance of a faculty adviser in fields such as English, dance, religious studies, history and more. Fellowships are competitive. Accepted students receive a stipend and campus housing.
Fisher Center PreDoctoral Fellowship
An opportunity to gain experience teaching in a private liberal arts college while completing thesis work. The fellowship carries a stipend in exchange for teaching one course per semester related to your research and the year's theme, attending Fisher Center lectures and meetings, making a public presentation and assisting with administration of Fisher Center programming. The pre-doctoral fellow participates in the Faculty Fellows Research Group which meet twice a month to discuss their research as related to the year’s theme.
Faculty REsearch Fellows
Each year four or five Faculty Research Fellows are chosen to participate in the Fisher Center Research Group, meeting regularly to discuss research around the year's theme. Research Fellows present their work to the broader community during the spring semester.