Please download the the conference program via this link (last updated 4 Dec 2018).
Prof. Janet Jakobsen will be giving a keynote speech for the conference. The speech is entitled “Lush Lives in Hard Times: The Promise of Melancholy Utopias”.
“Lush Lives in Hard Times” explores an ethics of possibility, bringing together the idea of a gay life and the melancholic realities of pursuing such a life in the midst of hard times. Among other recent events, the results of the 2016 elections in the United States have increased calls from both activists and scholars for new forms of analysis that can sustain resistance when the horizon of possibility appears to be limited. “Lush Lives” draws on collaborative projects between the Barnard Center for Research on women and community-based organizers working across a range of issues at the intersection between the broad system of neo-liberal political economy and the realities of queer lives: for prison abolition under the banner “No One is Disposable;” for “Queer Survival Economies”; with domestic workers organizing through the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and with organizers of Sakhi for South Asian Women in New York, on ‘Responding to Violence and Promoting Justice.” The need to make universal claims from the margins, to claim that that no one is disposable or that all workers should have basic protections in the workplace is clear enough in this activist work. Yet the world has not proven amenable to such claims; instead, we witness the failure of universal access to even the basics of life – food, water, shelter. The intertwining of love and loss, happiness and perversity, possibility and impossibility undertaken in this activism allows for a melancholy practice of utopian world-making. In a queer utopian imagination not everyone must be happy or whole; instead, utopia itself might remain disjunctive, ambivalent, off kilter and possibly perverse.
About the speaker:
Janet Jakobsen is Claire Tow Professor and Chair of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and Director of the Center for Research on Women at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she has also served as Dean for Faculty Diversity and Development. She studies ethics and public policy with a particular focus on social movements related to religion, gender and sexuality. She teaches courses on social ethics, feminist theory, queer theory, activism, religion and violence. She is the author of Working Alliances and the Politics of Difference: Diversity and Feminist Ethics. With Ann Pellegrini she co-wrote of Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance and co-edited Secularisms, and with Elizabeth Castelli she co-edited Interventions: Academics and Activists Respond to Violence. She has held fellowships from the American Association of University Women, the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan University and the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at Harvard Divinity School and has also taught as a Visiting Professor at Harvard University and Wesleyan University. Before entering the academy, she was a policy analyst and organizer in Washington, D.C.