Photo and story by Taylor Blanch / Contributing Writer
Saturday marked the end of the Women and Gender Studies Program’s 13th biennial interdisciplinary conference, titled “Creating Global Change.”
A student showcase kicked off the conference on Wednesday, followed by keynote speaker and creative writer Daisy Hernandez on Thursday. All included topics, papers and performances that followed the week’s theme of gendered migration, bodies and borders.
On Friday, the conference continued on with the theme with a featured panel discussion on “Gendered Bodies and Indigenous Cultures in the Borderlands.” This panel explored cultures of resistance and how they have a hand in shaping various social issues like culture, border crossings identity.
The panel included expert speakers Lisa Kahaleole Hall (Victoria University) representing Hawaiian Feminism; Jackie Rand (University of Iowa) on Native American Women; Robert Gutierrez-Perez (University of Nevada-Reno) for LGBTQ+ Chicanos/Xiconas; and Paul Chilsen (Middle Tennessee State University) speaking on Indigenous Women Leaders in Brazil.
Cultures of resistance are those that actively seek global justice. They are organizations of people, activists and artists of various backgrounds that strive for peace, sustainability, human rights, better education and overall higher quality of living and being.
Rand started off the panel by discussing the issues on the southern border currently, stressing the removal and erasure of indigenous peoples from this country, specifically in the Midwest. She emphasized the point, “As a historian, I see that we’re looking at a historical continuity. This isn’t a crisis that just emerged. It’s been with us since the beginning.”
Chilsen later added by saying, “There’s a lot of things that keep coming back, and we keep having to fight the same fights.”
Each panelist discussed certain aspects of each group of people they were representing and bounced ideas off of each other and the audience as to how to tackle certain issues of privilege in this country and how to keep the voice of minorities alive without violence and force.
Hall drove home the point that “we are trained to not care about the issues around us” in this country, and it is up to the individual to be aware and spread the knowledge they take away from each day to grow.
Perez concluded by saying, “I challenge us to live in our truths, but in artistic forms.”
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