[Cancelled/Postponed]: Feminisms Unbound: The Neoliberal University and Academic Feminism

Wednesday, April 01, 2020 at 6:00pm to 8:00pm

4-270, Building 4, Room 270 182 Memorial Drive Cambridge MA 02138

This event has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for Fall 2020.

This panel takes its inspiration from our insistent critique of the academic corporation in which we find ourselves working today. Increasingly, our new colleagues are temporary and underpaid hires, who are nevertheless often expected to give service beyond teaching. Our senior administrators, compensated at the same levels as the corporate structure, are hired as much for their fundraising abilities as for their academic inclinations or interests. Juggling multiple jobs, our students are enmeshed in an aggregation of precarity that is not only financial: their protests of the institution’s raced, gendered, sexed and classed inequities, for instance, are repurposed into website photographs designed to advertise the institution’s openness to critique. Particularly as women, as queer, as trans, and as first-generation, the discomfort with an institution that is hostile to them is transformed into a burden to reform the institution. Does our activism and theorizing alleviate or intensify these inequities? How is the genealogy of such processes, which we often hear ourselves take for granted as deeply unethical, connected to the humanist values we espouse and teach? Some senior administrative positions, such as Diversity Officers, for instance, are the result of our successful struggles to force the administration to be ethical. What if the neoliberal university is not, in fact, antithetical to our goals or practices as feminists and principled social actors in the institution? Finally, how might we think both critically and imaginatively about the temporal implications of the neoliberal university today and our place in it: the claim now made on all of our time; our conception of “free” time; our justification of time spent away from the institution’s demands; the disproportionate burden of time placed on some students, staff and faculty?


Roundtable Participants:

Eng-Beng Lim, Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Dartmouth College

Iyko Day, Associate Professor of English and Critical Social Thought, Mount Holyoke College

Iyko Day is Associate Professor of English and Critical Social Thought at Mount Holyoke College and Faculty Member in the Five College Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program. Her research focuses on Asian North American literature and visual culture; settler colonialism and racial capitalism; Marxist theory and queer of color critique. She is the author of Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism (Duke, 2016) and she co-edits the book series Critical Race, Indigeneity, and Relationality for Temple University Press. Her current project examines nuclear colonialism in North America, Africa, and Asia and the aesthetics of racial capitalism.

Michelle Rowley, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, University of Maryland College Park

Roderick Ferguson, Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Yale University

Roderick A. Ferguson is professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. He received his B.A. from Howard University and his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. An interdisciplinary scholar, his work traverses such fields as American Studies, gender studies, queer studies, cultural studies, African American Studies, sociology, literature, and education. He is the author of One-Dimensional Queer (Polity, 2019), We Demand: The University and Student Protests (University of California, 2017), The Reorder of Things: The University and Its Pedagogies of Minority Difference (University of Minnesota, 2012), and Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique (University of Minnesota, 2004). He is the co-editor with Grace Hong of the anthology Strange Affinities: The Gender and Sexual Politics of Comparative Racialization (Duke University, 2011). He is also co-editor with Erica Edwards and Jeffrey Ogbar of Keywords of African American Studies (NYU, 2018). He is currently working on two monographs—The Arts of Black Studies and The Bookshop of Black Queer Diaspora.

Ferguson’s teaching interests include the politics of culture, women of color feminism, the study of race, critical university studies, queer social movements, and social theory.

Moderator:  Faith Smith is an Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies and English at Brandeis University. Her research engages aesthetic strategies of writers and artists contending with the legacies of slavery and indentureship, feminist engagements with the state in the wake of globalization, and the resonance of archival histories of intimacy and loss in the present. She is completing "Strolling in the Ruins: The Caribbean’s Non-Sovereign Modern in the Early Twentieth Century," a reading of the imperial present just before the First World War. Another project, “Dread Intimacies,” examines sovereignty, intimacy and violence in twenty-first-century fiction and visual culture.

Event Type

Conferences/Seminars/Lectures, Community Event

Events By Interest


Events By Audience

Public, MIT Community, Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff

Events By School

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS)





Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality
Contact Email


Add to my calendar

Recent Activity