PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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  • Professional Development
Women of Color Scholarship, Teaching, and Activism Unit
Theme: Teaching Islam and Muslim Studies: Cross-Disciplinary and Anti-Disciplinary Orientations to Pedagogies in North American Academia
Unregistered Participant, Presiding
Sunday - 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Marriott Marquis-Leucadia (South Tower - First Level)

In this roundtable, we - women of color scholars teaching in North American universities - will discuss our relational, transnational, multi-,and anti-disciplinary conceptions of Islam and Muslim Studies and how we teach and perform our critiques at the site of university. While situated in different fields of Ethnic Studies, Social Justice Education, Literature, and Religious Studies, each of us shares a deep commitment to thinking through ethical, intellectual, situational, and other political questions related to teaching about Islam and Muslim communities across continents. We will pay particular attention to intersections of different forms of violences—e.g., anti-Black, racist, Orientalist, heteropatriarchal, Islamophobic, neo/colonial, institutional, and familial. We will also highlight productive ways to talk about resistance strategies to these violences which circulate Muslims as always/already/only brown, uphold the binaries of “good” vs. “bad” Muslim, demonize our anti-occupation struggles, and represent patriarchal violence as an exclusively or innately Muslim terrain.

Unregistered Participant
Shehnaz Haqqani, Mercer University
Unregistered Participant
Merin Shobhana Xavier, Queen's University
Unregistered Participant
  • New Program Unit
Intersectional Hindu Studies: Feminist and Critical Race Approaches to Research and Teaching Seminar
Theme: Intersectional Hindu Studies: Feminist and Critical Race Approaches to Research and Teaching Seminar
Shana Sippy, Centre College/Carleton College, Presiding
Monday - 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Hilton Bayfront-Cobalt 501A (Fifth Level)

This seminar uses the framework of feminist critical race theory to explore our experiences as researchers, teachers, and colleagues of colour in Hindu Studies. This is a closed session. The invited participants, a diverse group of scholars from different regions, religious backgrounds, serving at a range of institutions and at distinct stages in our careers, ask how our race and gender differences, histories of migration, and community connections shape us as researchers and teachers. What does it mean to talk critically about Hinduism, race, and racism in the neo-liberal university, when research has shown that the labour of racialized scholars, teachers, and administrators across the disciplines is frequently dismissed and devalued? This seminar is an attempt to create a space in which racialized scholars can discuss our experiences as both scholars and subjects, and reimagine the field with meaningful attention to a politics of location.

Santhosh Chandrashekar, University of Denver
Arun Chaudhuri, York University
Shreena Gandhi, Michigan State University
Marko Geslani, University of South Carolina
Harshita Mruthinti Kamath, Emory University
Sailaja Krishnamurti, Saint Mary's University
Vijaya Nagarajan, University of San Francisco
Prea Persaud, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Rupa Pillai, University of Pennsylvania
Tanisha Ramachandran, Wake Forest University
Priyanka Ramlakhan, University of Florida
Anand Venkatkrishnan, Harvard University
  • Presidential Theme: Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces
Women of Color Scholarship, Teaching, and Activism Unit
Theme: Centering Women of Color in Religious Dialogue: Race, Gendered Bodies, and Justice
JungJa Joy Yu, Claremont Graduate University, Presiding
Monday - 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Hilton Bayfront-Aqua 303 (Third Level)

Inspired by this year’s AAR presidential theme, Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces, this panel broadly and creatively answers the question: how does our work in public spaces impact on the private spaces and the lives of women of color? Through conscious and critical engagement with sacred texts and practices across faith traditions, this panel articulates strategies that advocate for justice across public and private spheres. Panellists discuss using Islamic concepts of love and justice to weave together Muslim women’s academic work and activism; using the public space of social media and rereading biblical texts as strategies for making Black trans women visible; and creating strategies for addressing white supremacy and anti-blackness in spaces of yoga study and practice.

Unregistered Participant
Love, Justice, and the South Asian American Scholar/Activist

In this paper, I will weave together my academic work and activism in a way to illustrates that I do what I do because I am fighting for my life and the lives of other women. I will explore religion, culture, and solidarity as they relate to my story.
The ethical imperatives that drive my engagement with activism are those of love and justice. Whenever I decide upon an activist engagement, I think about the mothering that I needed when I was a young person, those activists who made it possible for me to accomplish what I have.
I will explore the ways in which my perspectives towards love and justice are informed by my research on Islamic literature and culture.

Robin Bruce, Naropa University
White Supremacist Yoga: A Black Feminist Perspective on Cultural Appropriation, Systemic Racism, and "Healing Maps" toward Future Reconciliation

The way we interact with the world is influenced by the culture surrounding us. White supremacy is a culture creating a system of privilege, fortified by political and economic forces. Within American yoga studios, this white supremacist ideal overpowers the historical origins of yoga resulting in cultural appropriation, heightened forms of white fragility, and exclusionary yoga studio environments. Enter the Black-American body as a living symbol that shatters obliviousness to race. Using a socio-historical model and an auto-ethnographic approach, cultural appropriation is examined within the context of white supremacist culture. In addition, the Black-American body is historicized through the process of the trans-Atlantic passage and American slavery, looking at physical and psychological effects of trauma. Finally, a feminist-constructivist framework is employed to create a Healing Map that closely mirrors the five stages of grief as a means to construct a contemplative relation to inhabiting a racialized body.

Danielle Buhuro, Chicago Theological Seminary
Retweeting Rizpah: Care-Fronting Black Church in Addressing Black Female Transphobia on Social Media

Nearly everyone has heard of the social media hashtag: #BlackLivesMatter.

The hashtag was started in response to the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict in which Zimmerman pursued an unarmed African American teenage boy, Trayvon Martin, in a gated community complex when Martin was returning home. After the verdict was announced, three African American female supporters took to Twitter in protest using the hashtag slogan “#BlackLivesMatter”. The hashtag was then used nationwide and the women turned the hashtag into “a Black-centered political will and movement building project.”

While racism continues through mainly police brutality, transphobia against Black trans females is nearby if not more excessive. In 12 months, from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018, approximately 369 trans, non-binary and gender-variant people were murdered.

While the liberation Black Church has gotten on board with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, where is the response to Black trans murders?

This writer asserts that by not sharing information about Black trans murders on social media, the public is denied access to seeing LBGTQIA powerlessness, which fosters a lack of justice.

This writer asserts rereading/“retweeting” the biblical narrative of Rizpah as religious resistance and redemption to care-fronting Black Church in addressing Black female transphobia.

Lorena Parrish, Wesley Theological Seminary
Business Meeting:
Deborah Rogers, Lane College
Religion and Food Unit and Women of Color Scholarship, Teaching and Activism Unit
Theme: Grounded Practices: Women of Color, Food, and Farming Practices
Sarah Robinson-Bertoni, Santa Clara University, Presiding
Monday - 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hilton Bayfront-Aqua 314 (Third Level)

This session includes four papers that explore of how the work of women of color (as scholars, teachers and activists) in public spaces impacts the private spaces and lives of women. Participants will present for 10 minutes, providing a significant time for response and conversation. We envision broad engagement between activists, scholar-practitioners, theologians and religious scholars.

Unregistered Participant
Indeterminably Indebted to Society: Faith Communities, Food Insecurity and Incarceration

This paper explores the link between faith, food insecurity, and justice.
It makes the case for faith communities going beyond charity to doing justice with respect to vulnerable populations of individuals who suffer disproportionately from health disparities and continued racial injustice within the American Penal System, particularly African American and Hispanic women. The paper examines how formerly incarcerated minority women and their children struggle with food insecurity post-incarceration. These women and children struggle primarily because of rights that are denied to ex-offenders regarding access to public benefits such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Mass incarceration is a public health and public morality crisis which requires justice following incarceration, and justice requires a re-visioning of the Carceral State and the role of faith communities in moving beyond charity to doing justice on behalf of vulnerable populations suffering from indeterminable indebtedness to society.

Candace M. Laughinghouse, Chicago Theological Seminary
Spiritual Legacy of Women Working in Dirt

This paper is a journey through the practical work of women working in dirt (Fannie Lou Hamer, Alvenia Fulton, today’s black women gardeners), women working in academic spaces constructing ecowomanism (Karen Baker-Fletcher, bell hooks, Melanie Harris) and black veganism (Aph Ko, Syl Ko, A. Breeze Harper), to a robust social justice that incorporates a justice for the entire cosmos – nature, animals and people – all who have experienced oppression by western economic imperialism and connected by food production and consumption. The goal is not to simply flatten hierarchy and eviscerate the principles of patriarchy, but to challenge the irreconcilable conflicts within food justice work, acknowledge its privileges, and then present a dimension towards mutuality and moral obligation from an anti-speciesist ecowomanist theology therefore expanding the public discourse of decolonizing communities through farming. Now is the time to recognize black women as a pioneer crusader for expanding social justice with food justice.

Himanee Gupta-Carlson, SUNY Empire State College
Rhythm and Ritual in Hip Hop and Farming

This paper explores Hip Hop and farming as practices of social change. It argues that healing of the body and community are an essential component of that change, and that Hip Hop and farming share common modes of self-expression, community building, and faith. The paper traces the historic roots of Hip Hop and small-scale farming from their emergence in the 1970s through the present. It then examines stories about artists in Seattle’s Hip Hop community and farmers in the Adirondack foothills of New York alongside the author’s own engagements with Hip Hop in creating a small farm. It gives particular attention to projects that fight injustice in the food system such as the building of community gardens in housing projects, partnerships between farmers markets and food pantries, and the proliferation of new farms. The author draws on her work as a writer, Asian American religions’ studies scholar, and a farmer.

Deborah Rogers, Lane College
Eco-Womanist Pedagogy & Spiritual Activism: Sustaining Work for Justice in the Classroom and on the Farm

As a campus community, we are on our third iteration of a community farm. Each iteration of the farm has been grounded in the reality that our college is literally the first institution one encounters upon crossing the railroad tracks—the dividing line into a community that has long been designated as a food desert. This paper will explore the strategic ways our farm project seeks to re-orient students toward developing skills and values that intentionally foster the intangible bonds necessary for a strong sustainable, justice-centered community. Additionally, I reflect on what it means to do this work in a sustainable way that provides a healthy model of self-care and care for the earth that beckons students to be committed to this work long term. In particular, I reflect on my engagement with spiritual activism as a source for meaningful and arduous work in the dirt and the classroom.

Kimberly Nettles-Barcelon, University of California, Davis