On behalf of the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program (WGGP) at the University of Illinois, I would like to welcome you to the new semester. As you know, Prof. Murphy is serving as Acting Executive Director for the Illinois Global Institute (IGI) this year, and I will serve as the Acting Director of WGGP. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to working with you all.
For my brief tenure, I hope to build on the conversations facilitated by WGGP last year on the pandemic, the deepened social inequalities, and how it has modified the way we live. Specifically, we continue this theme by focusing on the feminist micro-politics of care and solidarity. Inviting scholars, activists, and artists through WGGP programming, we hope to shed light on under-the-radar and interstitial practices of care and life-making through which marginalized communities and women resist and challenge the unfair policies rooted in patriarchal-racial-capitalism. The COVID-19 global pandemic has, more than ever before, exposed not only the gross global and local inequalities, but also the indispensability of people’s creative, informal, and reciprocal practices of care to survive despite deep economic and health inequalities. To see poor women and their communities beyond their victimhood, speakers invited to WGGP programs this year will specifically focus on feminist politics of care and solidarity. From Europe’s municipalist movement, to Palestine and Sumud as re-engendering narrative, to solidarity economies of the African diaspora in the Americas (Canada and the Caribbean), and to Chile’s Las Tesis feminist collective (whose performance in the public space against gender-based violence went globally viral), these events and other WGGP programming will, I hope, inspire us to think of the pandemic, as Arundhati Roy puts it, as a portal through which we pass while creating the alternative, more just worlds we so desire.
The themes of radical care and solidarity have been at the core of my scholarship and past engagement with WGGP, dating back to 1999, when I arrived at this campus. Through the WGGP community, I have found some of my most invigorating friendships, colleagues, and students as I have developed my transnational and feminist urban scholarship empirically based in Latin America, Southern Africa, and the US on citizens’ struggles to attain a dignified urban livelihood. In cities across the world, the informal politics of marginalized communities, with the everyday invisible care work of women at their center, makes life possible and also challenges the unfair policies that place profit-making ahead of life-making.
WGGP strives to engage students, faculty, and community members through lectures, brown bags, and symposia promoting scholarship that makes a difference in bringing about transformative social change. These include lectures that are carried over from last year; lectures that address the focal theme of the year, feminist politics of care and solidarity; two activist panels on grassroots and artists’ creative practices; and a stimulating presentation on Transitional Justice. Please check our website’s home page to find information on upcoming events that we are hosting or co-sponsoring. The kickoff event for this year will respond to the tragic and urgent situation of women and gender-based violence in Afghanistan. We will inform you of the details of this virtual event via listserv, social media webpage, and other means as soon as we have the details confirmed.
Last year WGGP celebrated 40 years of service at UIUC, creating a vibrant community of students and scholars while encouraging and facilitating research, instruction, and service focused on gender equity and human development. We have many reasons to celebrate the accomplishments of the WGGP community, including our 78 Faculty Affiliates from 12 colleges and 33 departments across campus; our 150+ graduate students participating in WGGP through what was originally a certificate program and is now a graduate minor in Gender Relations in International Development (GRID); our graduate student awards and fellowships, now including two full-year fellowships (the Barbara A. Yates Fellowship and the Rita and Arnold Goodman Fellowship) and the Evelyne Accad and Paul Vielle International Research Award (please note the deadline for applying for funding for AY 2022-23 is February 16, 2022); and an exciting series of public events, lectures, and conversations. Please stay in touch to learn about our faculty affiliates, our current GRID students, and our programming via our website, our weekly newsletter.
If you are new to WGGP, we encourage you to look over our website to learn more about our program. Whether you are an old-timer or new to this campus, please let us know about faculty we should reach out to and invite as affiliates, and share our GRID graduate minor with students in your unit. I also invite you to “Like” us on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter and Instagram to learn about happenings on campus and around the world related to human development and gender equity. We are now building connections on LinkedIn.
We are happy to chat with you to discuss any questions you have about our program or about how you can get involved with WGGP. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or our Associate Director, Anita Kaiser, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (217) 333-6221. We look forward to hearing from you.
Finally, please stay safe and be well.
Acting Director, Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program
Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning,
Affiliate Professor (zero percent) at Department of Women and Gender Studies; Department of Geography
Affiliate faculty at the Center for South Asia and Middle Eastern Studies, African Studies, Global Studies, Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies, and Latin America and Caribbean Studies