2017 GWGSS Conference

The 2017 Women's Studies Graduate Organization Conference

Feminism, Race, & the Anthropocene

February 25th

The Penn Stater

Pre-conference on campus in the afternoon of February 24th

Our conference will feature papers, panels, and creative projects by students, scholars, activists, and artists from an interdisciplinary perspective to enrich our insight of feminism’s role in understanding and critically investigating the new geological age called the Anthropocene.

The concept of the Anthropocene, a recently-coined geologic term, is meant to designate a new geological era defined by the overwhelming impact that human activity has had on climate and the environment in our Post-Industrial Revolution world. Presentations will engage in questions such as:

  • What might the Anthropocene mean for feminism, its histories, theories, and practices?
  • How does the Anthropocene and the era of global climate change uniquely impact the lives of people of color? Indigenous communities?
  • How can feminism help us to better understand, interrogate, challenge, and theorize the Anthropocene?
  • What would it mean to queer our understanding of the Anthropocene?
  • What does a critical race or post-/de-colonial perspective bring to our understanding of the Anthropocene?
  • What is required of an intersectional approach to thinking and rethinking the Anthropocene?


Registration includes morning coffee/snacks, full lunch, and afternoon coffee/snacks on the 25th.


Date: Friday, February 24th

Times & Locations: Willard Building at Penn State University Park

3:30PM    216 Willard    Talk by Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste

            "Moving Mountains and Liberating Dialogues: My Life as a Black Feminist Archaeologist

5:00PM    118 Willard    Reception for Dr. Battle-Baptiste

Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Associate Professor of Anthropology, UMASS Amherst

Bio: I am a historical archaeologist who focuses primarily on the historical intersection of race, class, gender in the shaping of cultural landscapes across the African Diaspora.  My theoretical interests include Black Feminist theory, African American material and expressive culture, and critical heritage studies.  My work spans a variety of historic sites in the Northern and Southern United States, including the home of Andrew Jackson in Nashville, Tennessee; Rich Neck Plantation in Williamsburg, Virginia; the Abiel Smith School in Boston, Massachusetts; and the W. E. B. Du Bois Homesite in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  My latest research is a community-based archaeology project at the Millars Plantation site on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

About the TalkMoving Mountains and Liberating Dialogues:My life as a Black Feminist Archaeologist
In the last chapter of my book, Black Feminist Archaeology, I used the words “moving mountains and liberating dialogues” to describe how I felt about writing a book with these three words together. This venture took all of the strength I had, but seemed like the only way for me to have a 
conversation that mattered.  My work as a student of historical archaeology and the African Diaspora were often at odds, however, I also realized that I had to speak through these complex identities, for they were linked by a number of important intersections. The works of African 
descendant women describing our own experiences has always been the most reliable source for my developing a coherent theoretical dialogue about women in captivity and beyond.  Black Feminist Archaeology, therefore, demonstrates through an analysis of the material past a method to positively enhance the texture and depth of how we understand the experiences of captive African peoples and further creates an archaeology that can be directly linked to the larger quest for social 
and political justice. For my presentation, I will also talk about how my identity (as varied as it is) has led my research to reflect who I am and what I bring to the discipline of archaeology in general.  One of the aspects of my varied identity, is my being a member of the hip-hop generation. So, if ever given a chance, I will always incorporate music into my words, for Hip-Hop is a part of my life’s soundtrack and remains one of the constant things that has always kept me going and kept me 
real.  As a practicing archaeologist, there will also have to be visuals, they help me to make my case and help the audience see those key moments and places that shaped this Black (Hip-Hop) Feminist Archaeologist.  My presentation will be about the African Diaspora, the field of archaeological research, and the life of a Black Feminist Archaeologist professor, who is still learning about the academy, maintaining one’s soul and how to articulate all of this in ways that make the conversation matter.

CONFERENCE DETAILS (panel titles and speakers forthcoming):


Food: All registered participants will receive coffee/tea and snacks in the morning, a full lunch, and coffee/tea and snacks in the afternoon.

Technology: All presentation rooms have A/V presentation equipment.

Date: Saturday, February 25th

Times & Locations: 8:30AM to 7:00PM at the Penn Stater Hotel & Conference Center, Room 107

Click on image to see Full Conference Schedule:Full Conference Schedule

Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Zoe Todd, Assistant Professor, Carleton University 

Bio: My research is on fish, colonialism and legal-governance relations between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian State. In the past, I have researched human-fish relations in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, and I have also conducted work on Arctic Food Security in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories, Canada. My future work will focus on the relationships between people and fish in the context of colonialism, environmental change and resource extraction in Treaty Six Territory (Edmonton, Amiskwaciwâsakihan), Alberta. My work employs a critical Indigenous feminist lens to examine the shared relationships between people and their environments and legal orders in Canada, with a view to understanding how to bring fish and the more-than-human into conversations about Indigenous self-determination, peoplehood, and governance in Canada today.

About the Talk: Fish Benedictions: Reclaiming tenderness and care in the face of fascism

This talk will explore the role of fish as co-conspirators in the context of Métis resistance, refraction and refusals of settler colonial closure, erasure and violence in western Canada in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Drawing on the work of Indigenous political theorists and philosophers including Audra Simpson, Kim TallBear, and Tracey Lindberg, as well as the Métis philosophers and theorists in my own family, I will explore the ways in which fish and humans, together, have laboured to animate and enact legal-political, socio-ecological and ethical-imaginative orders that centre more-than-human beings as political agents who co-constitute worlds beyond the violences and legal fictions of terra nullius, white supremacy, settler colonialism and heteropatriarchy in North America. Working outward from the specific stories of my own Métis family's ties to the waters and fish of the Lake Winnipeg watershed, (and playing deliberately with my own family's complex entanglements in the assertion of Catholic order over lands, lives and waters in the prairies), I will explore what it means to enact care, tenderness, and kinship in the face of the contemporary extension of the orders of violence which founded Canada and America as nation states. What, then, can fish teach us about how to refuse fascism?


African Studies • African American Studies • Anthropology •Architecture • Art History • Center for Women Students • College of Arts & Architecture • Communication Arts & Sciences • CORED • The Rock Ethics Institute • French & Francophone Studies • Geosciences • Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literature • History • Institute for Arts & Humanities • Institutes of Energy & the Environment • Interinstitutional Center for Indigenous Knowledge • Lifelong Learning & Adult Education • School of Labor & Employment Relations • Philosophy • Plant Science • Political Science • Population Research Institute • Psychology • Richards Civil War Era Center • Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies • UPAC