Beverley Diamond

“Re” Thinking: Revitalization, Return, and Reconciliation in Contemporary Indigenous Expressive Culture.

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Michaëlle Jean and Jean-Daniel Lafond

TO THE ARTS, CITIZENS! : Social Mediation through the Arts

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Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah

Society Matters: why should we value the Humanities?

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James Bartleman

Residential Schools: Have we forgotten our responsibility?

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Weaver, Johnson and Chuenpagdee

How Do We Build Resilient Communities in the Face of Climate Change?

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Gérard Bouchard and Graham Fraser

Pluralist Societies: what's their future?

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David Adams Richards

Threatened Identity: what do we lose when we lose the sense of place?

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Chief Shawn Atleo

First Nations Education: Can we afford to miss out?

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Antonine Maillet

Giving voice: Who speaks for the forgotten?

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Andrew Weaver, climatologist

How can Canadians keep their cool in a warming world?

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climate change panel

Women in Times of Conflict

Sarah Bernstein, Experience Congress 2011

McMaster University PhD candidate Wafaa Hasan opened the panel Sunday, May 29th, with a talk titled “Eastward Pedagogies in Israeli and Palestinian Women’s Dialogues.” The talk, a fragment of her dissertation, explores the cessation of joint Palestinian-Israeli women’s dialogues that began in 1989, after the first Intifada, and the contemporary boycott of these dialogues by Palestinian feminists.

The failure of these dialogues has been widely attributed to the unequal power relations between Israeli and Palestinian women, but Hasan’s project is to articulate the details of this relationship. For her, the talks were constrained, first, by “a racial logic of Orientalist feminisms” that sees the discursive points of entry controlled by the ‘western’ Israeli women, with the ‘eastern’ Palestinian women perpetually in a position of bargaining for inclusion in the talks. The relationship is one of teacher and student, in which one party controls the dialogue, and the other receives it.

To illustrate her point, Hasan analyzes various scenes from the HBO documentary To Die in Jerusalem, which follows the families of two 17-year-old women: one, an Israeli, killed in a suicide bombing in 2007; the other, a Palestinian, the suicide bomber. The mothers of the two young women arrange a meeting and Hassan explains how, even on a material level, the eastward movement from Israel into the West Bank is relatively easy when compared to the obstructed move westward.

Hasan’s research highlights that the boycott of the dialogues has been necessary in order disrupt the colonial teaching process and reconfigure power relations. However, as Hassan points out rather hopefully, “the future of joint Israeli-Palestinian dialogues remains to be seen.”

University of Ottawa’s Dr. Shoshana Magnet and PhD candidate Corinne Mason’s talk, “Trojan Horses of Security: Mom Bombs and Cross-dressing Terrorists,” explores the question “What is queer about the female terrorist?”

Mason and Magnet illustrate the perception of female terrorists as transgressing gender norms. Somehow, in the act of violence, there is a fundamental reversal of the woman’s ability to give life. Mason points to a US Department of Homeland Security report that identifies pregnant women as particular threats to national security because of the ease with which they might conceal explosives. This report gained momentum, despite the fact that there have been no cases of pregnant female terrorists in the US.

Similarly, their research explores the anxiety surrounding veiled women: the split perception that these women are at once oppressed and in need of saving; and dangerous, in need of containment, as the veil may well conceal a male terrorist. The possibility of the cross-dressing terrorist is a figure of particular fear because it simultaneously activates racist and homo- and trans-phobic anxieties.

Mason and Magnet argue that it is, in part, these fears that have led to the screening procedures at airport security that view “peeking behind the veil” as a matter of national security.

Photo by Jared Morrison.


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