FMST Newsletter, Fall 2020

October 14, 2020


three-new-profs-760w-news-story.pngCHAIR’S LETTER: Fall 2020 

Dear Feminist Studies Community, 

We start the new academic year in difficult times. Amidst multiple pandemics, ongoing racist state violence, and growing economic disparities made more evident and worsened by Covid, we find ourselves in different locations, and not together in ways that we have been before. At the same time, many of us have found new ways of creating community and collectivity, including the important mobilization across the UC system for cops off campus happening this year. 

Even in these dark times, I look forward to working with Feminist Studies students and faculty. Our major is one dedicated to centering global and local histories that shape the political, social and cultural landscape we inhabit. Our classes teach students how to think through and analyze intersections of race, gender, and sexuality that are at the center of these histories in order to work towards feminist, antiracist, and more just futures.  

We are thrilled to welcome three new faculty members to our ranks. Feminist Studies at UCSC is now one of the largest departments of its kind in the US. Professors Gina Athena Ulysse, Xavier Livermon, and Katie Keliiaa (see their bios below) will be teaching classes in indigenous studies, Black and Africana Studies, performance studies, and sexuality studies – just to name some of the areas in which our course offerings will be expanded thanks to their presence. We also welcome two new graduate students: Jess Fournier and Kaiya Gordon. 

I also want to thank undergraduate director Neel Ahuja and Professor Jenny Kelly, who is on the undergraduate committee, for agreeing to organize a series of virtual hangouts for feminist studies majors. Our hope is that even though you can’t meet fellow students in person, you can still get a sense of the feminist studies community that has always been really strong on campus. Stay tuned for dates and times (as well as themes) for these hangouts. 

Thanks also to Professor Felicity Schaeffer for her service as Chair of the Feminist Studies department over the last three years. She leaves our department in a strong place.

I look forward to working with all of you this year. 

Neda Atanasoski

Professor and Chair, Feminist Studies Department, UCSC

Check out and follow our FMST Instagram!  And see videos by associate professor Neel Ahuja and professor emerita Bettina Aptheker on our new FMST YouTube channel.


The Feminist Studies Department is thrilled to welcome three new professors – a very exciting expansion in areas that the department has prioritized, including Indigenous and Africana Studies. Below are quick snapshots of our new faculty – learn more about them here.

keliiaa-150x150-2.jpgAssistant Professor Caitlin “Katie” Keliiaa will teach her first UCSC class in Indigenous Feminisms in Winter 2021. Katie earned her first M.A. in American Indian Studies at UCLA, her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, and most recently was a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in UCSC’s History Department. Katie’s book project – Unsettling Domesticity: Native Women and 20th Century Federal Indian Policy in the San Francisco Bay Area – examines how Native women domestic workers negotiated and challenged the Bay Area Outing Program. Centering Native women’s voices uncovered from federal archives, she excavates little-known histories of Indian boarding schools and outing programs. Katie is Yerington Paiute and Washoe, and her tribal communities inform her scholarship. 

livermon-150x150-.jpgAssociate Professor Xavier Livermon will be teaching this Fall, introducing a FMST Topics course in African Queer Studies (FMST 188-03). Xavier is also faculty in the Critical Race & Ethnic Studies program, and will be teaching CRES classes as he helps develop the Black Studies minor. Xavier earned his PhD from UC Berkeley and comes to Santa Cruz from the University of Texas-Austin, where he was an Associate Professor of African & African Diaspora Studies. His research exists at the intersection of popular culture, gender, and sexuality in post-apartheid South Africa. Xavier’s most recent book, Kwaito Bodies (Duke University Press, 2020), examines the cultural politics of the youthful black body in South Africa through kwaito, a style of electronic dance music and dance that emerged in Johannesburg following the end of apartheid. 

gauheadshot-150x150-.jpgProfessor Gina Athena Ulysse will teach her first classes at UCSC in Spring 2021 – Black Feminist Ethnographies as well as a workshop, Experimenting with Rasanblaj – a gathering of ideas, people, things, and spirits. Gina is a feminist cultural anthropologist and internationally recognized performance artist and poet, with a focus on the Caribbean and African Diaspora. Prior to UCSC, she was a Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at Wesleyan University for 19 years. She earned her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Gina is the author of Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importing, A Haitian Anthropologist and Self-Making in Jamaica (2007) and Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post Quake Chronicle (2015), published in English, Kreyòl and French. Her last book, Because When God is too Busy: Haiti, me & THE WORLD (2017), is a collection of photographs, poetry, and performance texts. Awarded the 2018 Best Poetry Connecticut Center for the Book Award, it was long-listed for the 2017 PEN Open Book Award. In 2020, Gina was commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney to create a performance-installation, An Equitable Human Assertion, exhibited on Cockatoo Island in Sydney, Australia. 


Meet the 2020 FMST grad cohort

jess-fournier-crop-100x100.jpgTwo new grad students come on-board with us this Fall. Please welcome: 

Jess Fournier is originally from Rhode Island by way of Boston, MA. Their research focuses on community-based responses to sexual violence in queer and trans communities and survivors' participation in abolitionist organizing to end state and interpersonal violence. They are a first-generation college graduate of Harvard College with a BA in the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. They are excited to join the FMST community at UCSC!  

k.gordon-crop-100x100.jpgKaiya Gordon, a poet and essayist from the San Francisco Peninsula, has an MFA in Poetry from Ohio State University with an interdisciplinary specialization in Fine Arts. In Ohio, Kaiya organized with incarcerated people and families directly impacted by policing, working to create networks of care divested from state violence. Kaiya is interested in poetic approaches to academic writing, and their work focuses on the intersections between disability, transness, and abolition. Their most recent project is a multimodal manuscript considering archival representations of trans people and movements. Kaiya's work has been published by, The Guardian, Cosmonauts Avenue, Split Lip Magazine, Empty Mirror, and others. Their favorite karaoke song is "Basket Case" by Green Day. 

Congratulations to Feminist Studies’ latest PhD – Dr. Yizhou Guo 

yizhou-guo-crop-100x100.jpgWe send hearty congratulations to Yizhou Guo, our most recent FMST PhD, who graduated in Spring 2020.  

Working with primary advisor Neda Atanasoski, Yizhou’s dissertation is titled: The Hermeneutics of Ephemerality: Digital Media and Radical Politics in Postsocialist China. She is currently working to extend her F1 visa status to stay in the US. We are excited to see where Yizhou’s path will take her next

QE congrats to Halima Kazem Stojanovic 

Congratulations to Halima Kazem Stojanovic, who passed her Qualifying Exam in Spring. An investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker, Halima’s research centers on feminism in Afghanistan. She brings a wealth of expertise to her academic work, with more than 12 years reporting from Afghanistan for major media outlets including The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and PRI,and researching human rights violations for Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the U.N. While pursuing her PhD at UCSC, Halima teaches journalism and human rights at San Jose State University.

In 2019, Halima was awarded a Summer Research Fellowship by THI to conduct interviews with Afghan historians, professors, government officials and activists traveling through Dubai. Read the THI profile to learn more about Halima’s research, her experiences as a reporter, and plans to share her scholarship in the future.  

Marina Segatti to teach THI Questions That Matter course 

In 2020-21, The Humanities Institute is supporting three new Research Clusters and three GSIs to explore this year’s theme: Memory. FMST PhD student Marina Segatti is one of three Graduate Student Instructors selected to develop and teach a new THI course focused on “Memory and the Americas,” with support from faculty mentors Sylvanna Falcón, Matt O’Hara, and Nathaniel Deutsch. The course is part of THI’s annual “Questions That Matter” series, funded through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Expanding Humanities Impact and Publics project. 

Dana Ahern honored as Outstanding T.A. of 2020

We received many worthy nominations for the 2020 Outstanding TA Award and are very pleased to announce that Dana Ahern was selected for this honor. 

One compelling commendation was from associate professor Neel Ahuja, who wrote: “Dana exceeded expectations by both maintaining a rigorous writing and study program for sections and providing out-of-class assistance for many students dealing with complex emotional and intellectual responses to studying several centuries of race and racism as it affects different marginalized groups. Dana was a warm, responsible, and attentive TA who demonstrates the best type of socially just pedagogy.” 

Bettina Aptheker Award for Research on Sexual, Gendered, and Racial Violence 

The Bettina Aptheker Award honors undergraduate or graduate students whose research or community service work relates to sexual, gendered, and/or racial violence. The award was established in honor of Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies, Bettina Aptheker, at the time of her retirement in Spring 2018. A radical feminist, political activist, UCSC alumna, and history scholar, Bettina is a legendary professor with a national reputation. She was instrumental in the creation of the Feminist Studies department at UCSC, one of the country’s largest and oldest feminist programs, and taught introductory feminist courses for more than three decades, sharing her deeply compelling ideas and passion for social justice with more than 16,000 students through the years.

The inaugural Bettina Aptheker Award was given this year to two FMST graduate students, who each received $1000 to support their dissertation research:

Jessica Calvanico, for her work on New Orleans’ Girl Problems: The House of the Good Shepherd and the Making of Carceral Girlhood 

Claire Urbanski, whose research explores The Feminine Sacred: Desecration and Spiritual Violence of U.S. Settler Colonial Occupation 

FMST Grad Students Writing, Speaking and Winning Awards

Dana Ahern was awarded a 2020-21 Chancellor's Dissertation Quarter Fellowship. 

Gabriel Evans Cayley received a Summer Fellowship from The Humanities Institute (THI) to pursue research on Movement Infrastructures: Chasing Colonial Temporalities of Age, Generation and Inheritance. 

Jessica Calvanico was awarded The Humanities Institute's Year-Long Dissertation Completion Fellowship to work on her project: New Orleans’s Girl Problems: The House of the Good Shepherd and the Making of Carceral Girlhood.

Eli Erlick received a Dissertation Proposal Fellowship from the THI Social Science Research Council to pursue her thesis, Development Biopolitics, Activism, and Transgender Resilience in the United States.

Anne Napatalung was awarded a Summer Fellowship by The Humanities Institute (THI) for her research project, Tracing Medical Knowledges: Black and Indigenous Alabama Lay Midwives and the Tuskegee School of Nurse-Midwifery.

Zia Puig received a Summer Fellowship to work on their research project:A Garden of Stardust: Lovely Matter(s) & The Colonization of Mars. 

Marina Segatti spent the summer working on her research project – Sapatão é Resistência: Brazilian lesbian resistance across the Americas – supported by a Summer Fellowship from The Humanities Institute (THI). 

Halima Kazem Stojanovic was awarded a Summer Fellowship by THI to continue her research on Feminism in Afghanistan. 

Claire Urbanski received a Ruth Landes Memorial Scholarship Award for 2020-2021. 


FMST Undergrads Win 2019-20 Deans’ and Chancellor’s Awards

Announced at the Humanities Spring Awards celebration at the culmination of each academic year, the Deans’ and Chancellor’s Awards honor outstanding scholarship and creativity among undergraduate students. 

Ten undergrad projects from the Humanities Division received a Deans' Award, and three Chancellor's awardees were selected from Deans' Award recipients. We are very proud of two FMST majors who received the Deans' Award -- and went on to receive the Chancellor's Award, as well! 

 Irma Barbosa, a Feminist Studies/Art double major who graduated in Spring 2019, was recognized for her senior project: Pure Potential.  

Angela Cortes, a 2020 graduate with a double major in Feminist Studies/History, was honored for her paper, An Intellectual History of Public Discourse in the Post-Civil War Era: Infanticide and Emerging Reproductive Regulations.   

Meet our 2020-21 Undergrad Rep 

charlotte_4138-100x100.jpgWe are very pleased to announce that Charlotte O’Keefe Stralka is our undergraduate representative for the year, acting as a liaison between undergrad majors and FMST faculty and staff. 

Charlotte is a fourth year Feminist Studies/Politics double-major who plans to be involved in local politics or non-profit work after graduation. Charlotte is also the Peer Coach for Stevenson College and a Political Team Lead for Sunrise Bay Area. During her time at UCSC, she has been a Residential Assistant and an intern for the Santa Cruz City Council. In her free time, Charlotte loves cooking new recipes, reading sci-fi, and watching stand-up. If you have any questions or want to set up a time to chat with Charlotte, feel free to reach out! Email her at 

Come party with your peers 

Since we can’t gather in physical spaces this Fall, Feminist Studies will be hosting quarterly social hours to bring FMST folks together for some virtual gathering. (Or rasanblaj, as our new FMST professor Gina Athena Ulysse would say.) 

Undergrad director Neel Ahuja will be working with Jenny Kelly to plan the get-togethers. Stay tuned for more details to come …


Feminist Studies celebrates two big promotions  

Congratulations to two FMST professors who recently earned milestone promotions! We are honored to share our intellectual community with these talented scholars: 

Felicity Amaya Schaeffer, who came to UCSC in 2005, is now a Full Professor. Felicity earned her Ph.D. in American Studies with a Minor in Advanced Feminist Studies from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She is the author of Love and Empire: Cybermarriage and Citizenship Across the Americas (New York University Press, 2013). Her forthcoming book, Tracking Footprints: The Militarized Science of Surveillance Bordering Sacred Indigenous Land, will be published by Duke University Press in 2021. Felicity has served as Chair of the FMST Department for the past three years and is excited to return to teaching this fall. 

Karen Barad was awarded the title of Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies. Currently on sabbatical, Karen has taught at UCSC since 2005. She earned her PhD in Theoretical Particle Physics from SUNY Stony Brook and held a tenured appointment in physics before moving into more interdisciplinary spaces. Author of Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke University Press, 2007), Karen has published numerous articles in the fields of physics, philosophy, science studies, poststructuralist theory, and feminist theory. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Hughes Foundation, the Irving Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Karen is Co-Director of the Science & Justice Graduate Training Program at UCSC. 

FMST Faculty Publications and Speaking Appearances 

Neel Ahuja received a Faculty Manuscript Workshop grant from the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) to develop his project on Planetary Specters: Race, Migration, and Climate Change in the Twenty-First Century. Neel also had an article published in Social Text (38:2, 2020: 19-27): "Reversible Human: Rectal Feeding, Plasticity, and Racial Contol in US Carceral Warfare." 

Bettina Aptheker may be retired, but she’s been very busy! Some of her recent writing and appearances:

“If They Come in the Morning: Writing from Prison with Angela Davis,” with illustrations by Ken Krimstein, Polity of Literature #7, Arts Everywhere. Camadian Arts Foundation, June 11, 2020 (online only, read it here)  

“Woman Suffrage & the Ongoing Struggle for Voting Rights,” A Panel with Bettina Aptheker, Professor Aida Hurtado, and Judge Marla Anderson, moderated by Gail Pellerin, Santa Cruz County Registrar, for the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, August 9, 2020. Watch it here

“Seeds of Something Different: An Oral History of UCSC: Open the Door: Finding a Place on a Very White Campus (1990s) – Session Four with Bettina Aptheker and Rosalee Cabrera, introduced and moderated by Irene Reti, UCSC Oral Historian. View it here.  

“Celebrating Woman Suffrage & the Ongoing Struggle for Voting Rights,” a live stream presentation and Q&A presented by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San Jose State University, October 22, 2020 

Bettina also reports that her online Coursera course – a four-class lecture series on Feminism & Social Justice – has been taken by nearly 50,000 people! The course was put up about a year and a half ago and has received an aggregate 4.8 star rating. “I’ve received email messages and queries from folks all over the US and around the world, including Tokyo, Delhi, Kabul, Kazakhstan, the U.K. and Australia,” Bettina says. “It is absolutely astonishing to me!” You can check out the course yourself here

Jenny Kelly will lead one of three new research clusters launched by The Humanities Institute –experimental initiatives that can serve as incubators for future larger projects.Part of the Questions that Matter series, THI’s 2020-21 theme is Memory. Working with co-leader Camilla Hawthorne (SOC/CRES), Jenny’s cluster will explore “Border Regimes and Resistance in Global Perspective.”  

Jenny also was awarded a 2020-2021 Hellman Fellowship from the UCSC Academic Affairs Division, and authored an article in the Summer 2020 issue of Feminist Formations (Volume 32, Issue 2: 79-110): “Subjection and Performance: Tourism, Witnessing, and Acts of Refusal in Palestine.” 

Gina Athena Ulysse presented her latest work in Australia at the Biennale of Sydney (BoS). The commissioned installation-performance piece, An Equitable Human Assertion, was exhibited on Cockatoo Island in Sydney when the BoS, which Covid shut down during winter, was re-opened June 14-September 6.  


October 20 – Launch of Barring Freedom: Visualizing Abolition – 4:00-5:30 pm PT

This year-long event, presented by the UCSC Institute of the Arts & Sciences, launches with Visualizing Abolition: A Conversation with Angela Y. Davis and Gina Dent. The 2020/21 program on art, prisons, policing, and justice features a multi-site contemporary art exhibition, a participatory public art project, and an online schedule of speakers on the topic of abolition. More info here

October 28 and November 4 – Fascisms Now – 2-4 pm PT 

A two-part series sponsored by the Center for Racial Justice (CRJ) in collaboration with the Critical Ethnic Studies Journal. Hosted by Alyosha Goldstein (University of New Mexico) and Simon Trujillo (New York University). Additional participants to be announced. Watch for further info and zoom registration links to come. 

  • Panel One (Weds, Oct. 28) – Allan E. S. Lumba (Virginia Tech University), Johanna Fernández (Baruch College/CUNY), Anne Spice (Ryerson University)

  • Panel Two (Weds, Nov. 4) – Macarena Gómez-Barris (Pratt Institute), Nadia Abu El-Haj (Columbia University), Denise Ferreira da Silva (University of British Columbia) 

November 4 – The Morning After: A (Post) Election Conversation – 12:15-1:30 pm PT

FMST professor Gina Dent joins Debbie Gould (SOC) and Savannah Shange (ANTH) the day after the U.S. presidential election to process the results and think together about the weeks, months, and years to come. Part of the Center for Cultural Studies Fall Colloquium Series – visit the CULT website to RSVP by 11 AM on Wednesday, November 4 and receive the Zoom link and password. 

2020-2021 UCSC Center for South Asian Studies Towards Justice Lecture Series

The UCSC Center for South Asian Studies presents a 2021-21 lecture series, curated by FMST professor and CSAS co-director, Anjali Arondekar.  All lectures are on a Thursday, 4-6 pm PT. Get more info and register here

  • October 29 – Folded Corporeal Histories of the Hindi Film Dancer-Actress in the 1950s and 1960s, Professor Usha Iyer, Stanford University 
  • November 12 – The Loss of HindustanProfessor Manan Ahmed, Columbia University 
  • February 4 – Labors of Love: On the Ethics and Politics of Attachment in India’s Central Himalayas,  Professor Radhika Govindrajan, University of Washington, Seattle
  • March 4 – Speaking Satire to Power: A View from Kashmir, Mir Suhail, Artist, Activist, Scholar
  • April 8 – The Aesthetics of Postcolonial Science: Art and Physics in 1950s Bombay, Professor Dwaipayan Banerjee, MIT-Massachusetts Institute of Technology 


2021 Humanities Without Walls Summer Workshop Fellowship – Deadline: October 31

Humanities Without Walls (HWW) is holding its first online, national, virtual summer workshop for doctoral students interested in learning about careers outside the academy and/or the tenure track system. Through three weeks of workshops, talks, and virtual field trips, participants learn how to leverage their skills and training towards careers in the private or non-profit sectors, arts administration, public media, and many other fields. Each Fellow will receive a $5,000 award. Open to grad students enrolled at UCSC in the Humanities, Social Sciences, or Arts Division .Eligible doctoral students must be nominated by their home institutions, and only one nomination may be made to HWW by each university. To be considered, interested doctoral students must submit their applications to The Humanities Institute –do not submit your applications directly to HWW. Learn more and apply here. 

The Catalyst: An Undergraduate Journal of Feminist Theory and Rhetoric – Deadline:  November 1

Undergrads are encouraged to submit papers for a special issue of The Catalyst on the theme of “The 21st Century Female Leader.” The Catalyst is a peer-reviewed, undergraduate-run journal published through the Interdisciplinary Women's Council at Northeastern University. For this issue, the editors particularly seek interdisciplinary and international essays that address substantive feminist questions, debates, and controversies without employing disciplinary or academic jargon. We seek essays that are passionate, strongly argued, and willing to take risks.  Learn more here.  

2021 Symonds Prize, Studies in Gender and Sexuality: An Interdisciplinary Journal – Deadline: November 1

Studies in Gender and Sexuality, thanks to the Alexandra and Martin Symonds Foundation, invites submissions to its annual competition for the best previously unpublished essay on gender and/or sexuality. The essay may engage clinical, critical, empirical, or theoretical questions that relate to gender and sexuality, particularly in the context of contemporary struggles and crises. The writer may be new or seasoned. The topic may be cutting-edge or venerable. We welcome essays that vary in form and content, including transdisciplinary work. Submissions will be judged by members of the Editorial Board. The winner will receive $500, and the essay will be published in SGS. Send submissions, including an abstract, as Word files, to:, with the subject line “Symonds Competition.” 

Woodrow Wilson Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Women’s Studies – Deadline: October 16

For research about women and gender that crosses disciplinary, regional, or cultural boundaries. Recent fellows have explored such topics as reproduction in the context of chronic disease, algorithmic detection of child abuse images, and changing feminist visions at the United Nations from 1975 to 1995. Program flyer here.

Global & Community Health Wellbeing Awards – Deadline: October 30

The UCSC Division of Social Sciences Global and Community Health Wellbeing Awards program enables undergraduate and graduate students to complete a research project that addresses global and community health in collaboration with a community organization. Facilitated through the Institute for Social Transformation, the interdisciplinary program offers funding to UCSC undergraduate and graduate students in good standing and currently enrolled through Spring 2021. Funded students must participate in a public or virtual event highlighting their work. All students are encouraged to apply, but SocSci undergrads will be prioritized. Up to 10 awards of up to $1000 each will be awarded. Apply here

UC President’s 2020-2021 Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program – Deadline: November 1

Established in 1984 to encourage women and minority Ph.D. recipients to pursue academic careers at the University of California, this program offers post-doc research fellowships and faculty mentoring to outstanding scholars in all fields whose research, teaching, and service will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in the UC system, including public service toward increasing equitable access in fields where women and minorities are underrepresented. Fellowships are awarded for research conducted at any of the UC’s ten campuses. Applicants must receive a Ph.D. or terminal degree from an accredited university before the fellowship start. The award includes a salary starting at approximately $53,460; benefits including health insurance and paid vacation/sick leave; and up to $5,000 for research-related and program travel expenses. Each award is for a minimum of 12 months and may be renewable for an additional term upon demonstration of academic/research productivity. Apply online here.  

Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships – Deadline: November 16

Available to PhD and ThD candidates who expect to expect to complete their dissertation between April and August 2022, Newcombe fellowships encourage original and significant study of religious and ethical values in fields across the humanities and social sciences. Info here

The Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award – Deadline: December 2

For tenure-track junior faculty who successfully pass third-year review no later than January 31, 2021. Open to faculty in any field of the humanities or social sciences, with preference given to those working on 20th and 21st Century American history, politics, culture, and society, with emphases including African American and women’s issues and/or higher education. Program flyer here

Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality (GCWS) – Deadline:  January 10, 2021

This free graduate student conference will be held virtually April 9-11, 2021. Graduate students from all disciplines are invited to submit papers, projects, and works of various mediums on the conference theme of “Radical Love Across Difference.” Proposals may come in the form of papers, films, art, performance, visual art, or alternate forms not listed. Learn more about the conference and how to submit a proposal here.