Chancellor’s Leadership Award Catalyzes Project on LGBT Studies

October 13, 2010

Chancellor’s Leadership Award Catalyzes Project, Conference on Transnationalizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Studies

August 24, 2010

On Sept. 23-25, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Studies Program at Syracuse University will host an inaugural conference, “Transnationalizing LGBT Studies,” that will cross geographic and cultural borders to explore LGBT scholarship and activism from a transnational perspective.

“We live in a transnational and technologically mediated world where people, ideas, images and capital move across borders in rapid and complicated ways,” says Margaret Himley, professor of writing and rhetoric in The College of Arts and Sciences and co-director of the LGBT Studies Program. “In our LGBT courses, scholarship and activism, we are ever more alert to the transnational intersections of sexual and gender identities, theory and politics.”

The first conference keynote speaker on Friday morning will be Martin F. Manalansan IV, associate professor in Asian American studies and Latin American and Caribbean studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose work includes “Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora” (Duke University Press 2003). On Saturday morning, the keynote speaker will be Elizabeth A. Povinelli, professor of anthropology and gender studies at Columbia University, whose most recent work is “The Empire of Love: Toward a Theory of Intimacy, Genealogy, and Carnality” (Duke University Press 2006).

On Friday evening, renowned Canadian filmmaker Richard Fung will speak about his work through the optic of the transnational. Fung’s work investigates themes of queer sexuality, post-colonialism and issues of Diaspora and family. His video pieces, which have been screened internationally, include “My Mother’s Place” (1990), “Sea in the Blood” (2000) and “Islands” (2002). He teaches at the Ontario College of Art & Design.

Additionally, leading LGBT academics and activists will talk about queer history and memory, media and politics, and legal advocacy and activism as part of the conference panel discussions. Ongoing discussion about pedagogy and curriculum will also take place.

The conference and its umbrella project, Transnationalizing LGBT Studies, are a result of a 2009-11 Chancellor’s Leadership Project awarded to the LGBT Studies Program at SU. The LGBT Studies Program, based in The College of Arts and Sciences but drawing from five different SU schools and colleges, has used this award to help create a transnational dialogue on questions of sexual and gender identities, theories, communities, movements, Diasporas and politics from global and transnational perspectives. By collaborating with colleagues in the United States and other parts of the world, the project provides new contributions to LGBT/Queer pedagogy and curriculum, and enhances the connectivity of scholars and scholarship and activism around the world.

“This significant grant that we received from Chancellor Cantor has provided us the resources to undertake a deep exploration of critical questions, such as: What are the benefits, dangers, and methods of transnational LGBT Studies and activism? How do we participate ethically in the world given unequal power and cultural difference? And what and how do we teach our students about such matters?” says Andrew S. London, professor of sociology in the Maxwell School and co-director of the LGBT Studies Program. “We are fortunate to have this opportunity, and the current need for a project like this is immense. We have literally received hundreds and hundreds of inquiries about Transnationalizing LGBT Studies from all over the world, and more than 100 people from all over the U.S., as well as from Canada and Spain, have already registered for the September 2010 conference.”

As a follow-up to the U.S. conference and as the next component of the Chancellor’s Leadership Award, the LGBT Studies Program will host an international conference/workshop in Madrid, Spain, in 2011. The LGBT Studies Program and SU Madrid regularly offer a course, “Sexualities and Social Life in Spain,” during the academic year and the summer session, which provides the impetus for building strong connections with scholars in Spain. Scholars and activists from across the globe will participate in public lectures, seminars and workshops to engage faculty and graduate students in the development of sustainable LGBT research and pedagogy networks for a global environment.