Academic journal article Theory in Action


Academic journal article Theory in Action


Article excerpt

[Article copies available for a fee from The Transformative Studies Institute. E-mail address: Website: ©2017 by The Transformative Studies Institute. All rights reserved.]

In February 2017, the Gender, Sex, and Sexuality conference held its third annual conference at the State University of New York Potsdam. This issue of Theory in Action highlights the variety of voices, themes, and scholarship presented in response to the conference theme of (Dis)Enfranchisement.

In order to understand the nature of the annual GSS conference as it stands now, it is important to recount the history of the conference and its early development. The GSS conference began in 2013 spearheaded by the Gender and Sexuality Studies Caucus at Clarkson University. Faculty of the four Associated Colleges of St. Lawrence County (SUNY Canton, SUNY Potsdam, Clarkson University, and St. Lawrence University) convened at the conference to share their work, develop relationships, and pool resources. While the first conference was a success, not all of the individuals involved were able to continue working to develop the scale and scope of the conference. After a one year hiatus, the conference was spurred to life again in 2015 when Emily Hamilton-Honey took over as gender studies coordinator at SUNY Canton. A dozen faculty from the four schools gathered over the summer to brainstorm and re-imagine an annual GSS conference. In the fall of 2015 the conference organizing committee (Emily Hamilton Honey and Melissa Lee from SUNY Canton, Annegret Staiger from Clarkson University, Jennifer Thomas from St. Lawrence University, and Christine Doran from SUNY Potsdam) began working on the second conference.

From its inception, an important working agreement amongst the planning committee was the conference would be hosted by each of the colleges in rotation, which would allow the weight of the planning to shift each year as well as create easier access for students. The first iteration of the conference, Why Gender and Sexuality Studies Still Matter, was hosted by Clarkson University, a private college in Potsdam. The 2016 conference, Out(in)sider Intersections, moved to SUNY Canton, a public university in Canton. Our most recent conference in 2017, (Dis)Enfranchisement, was hosted by SUNY Potsdam. Moving between Potsdam and Canton and from state to private universities and colleges allows the conference to bring together diverse campus communities, enable collaborative conversations, and foster teaching and research possibilities unique to our area. This is made possible because the four universities are within 13 miles of each other.

Each year, the organizing committee chooses a theme that will allow for broad participation of faculty and students from all four schools. The 2017 conference theme emerged as we noted several centennial celebrations of suffrage in New York State. It became clear to us that enfranchisement and disenfranchisement was a timely and especially compelling theme for a conference focused on gender, sex, and sexuality. Thus, we crafted a call for papers and conference description that reflected these concerns. The call read:

The conference is intended to provoke thoughtful discussion of the complex issues around enfranchisement, citizenship, and community participation in all of their various forms. Enfranchisement and disenfranchisement can take a myriad of forms; so, we asked how do these forms affect our ability to function and participate in our communities, our countries, and as citizens of the world? We thought about the ways that marginalized groups might include, for example, women, LGBTQ+, people of color, sex workers, refugees, immigrants, Native and indigenous peoples, and religious minorities. In addition, we asked about when we use a discourse of enfranchisement and disenfranchisement to advocate for inclusion, of what does that inclusion consist? …

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