Rethinking Power and Resistance Rethinking Power and Resistance: Gender and Human Rights from Texas to the Transnational Americas Conference Footage collection contains edited footage from the 2012 Conference sponsored by the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Texas at Austin as part of the Center's Embrey Women’s Human Rights Initiative 

Rethinking Power & Resistance was organized by a broad-based group of UT faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students from Women’s and Gender Studies, African and African Diaspora Studies, the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, Native American and Indigenous Studies, Theatre and Dance, Anthropology, Law, English, University of Texas Libraries, and the Multicultural Engagement Center as well as community organizers from Austin-based groups such as Mamas of Color Rising, Alma de Mujer, allgo, Transgender Jail Project, Texas After Violence Project,  Conspire Theatre, and La Semilla Childcare Collective. The Rethinking Power & Resistance organizing committee envisioned a conference that would bring organizers and activist scholars together and foment collaborative work beyond the conference. As such, the conference centered around three community-university collaborations with the Transgender Jail Project, Conspire Theatre, and the Polochic Evictions Counteraction and foregrounded the themes of arts as advocacy, pedagogies of alliance and resisting criminalization.

In addition to these three collaborations, academics and activists from throughout the Americas presented their research and activism on gender justice and human rights. The conference prioritized networking, workshops, and interdisciplinary activism for scholars, social justice organizers, and community members who engage in and question the use of human rights language to address issues of gender justice. Conference attendees and participants collaboratively examined the relationships of women, LGBT communities, and communities of color to women’s human rights as they pertain to issues such as economic rights, environmental justice, immigration, incarceration/detention, land rights, political repression, reproductive justice, resource sharing, sexuality, and more. The conference aimed to explore new movement strategies for gender justice which: work at the intersections of gender, sexuality, and ethnicity; work with and in tension with human rights language (addressing autonomous uses of human rights strategies and the harm of neoliberal human rights appropriation); work in or in relationship to the Americas; and build on connections among community organizers and activist scholars while interweaving our local context with transnational work.

The conference closed with “Mama Said Knock You Out 2,” a women in hip hop benefit concert for Mamas of Color Rising. The concert took place at the now defunct venue, The Collective, and featured live painting by TooFly, hip-hop performances from Invincible, Las Krudas, Lah Tere, Yoli and T-Fly, Tiger Lily, Tru Bloo and DJ sets by DJ Trinity and DJ T-Kay. Mz Marlah, of the “Soul Vibrations” radio show on Austin radio station KAZI, hosted the event.

For additional information about the collection, please see the Finding Aid at the Texas Archival Repository Online (TARO)


Arts as Advocacy Panel

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Session is conducted in English. Panel consists of two research presentations surrounding femicide, queer latinidad and the female body. The first panelist, Jessica Ordaz, presents her research titled “Disrupting the Silence of Feminicide in Ciudad Juárez,” on the systemic targeting and killing of women within Ciudad Juárez and the discourse surrounding these murders acting as implicit support of the systemic devaluation of women. The second panelist, Joseph M. Pierce, presents his research “Borderland Bitches: Queer Latinidad in Contemporary Poetry and Performance,” which analyzes the shared marginalization of gay and lesbian identities and explores the poetry anthology Tragic Bitches: An Experiment in Queer Xicana and Xicano Performance Poetry as an example of solidarity generated from this shared marginalization. After the presentations, the panel open up to comments and questions from the audience, which includes a discussion about appreciation of difference as a form of solidarity and art as a facilitation of public memory.

Criminalization and Transnational Gender Justice Panel

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Session is conducted in English and Spanish. Panel discussion features Marcela Abadía, Laura Aguirre, Haile Cole, and Alicia Paller-Rzepka, with Elvia Mendoza as moderator. Marcela Abadía presents “Is There a Possible Future for Gender Justice in a South Global Criminal Justice System?,” her doctoral research on the development of the criminal justice system within the global south as it relates to gender based violence and feminism. The second panelist, Laura Aguirre, discusses her doctoral research entitled “Poder y resistencia en las trabajadores sexuales centroamericanas en la frontera sur de México,” a case study focusing on the experiences of sex workers from Central America living and working in southern Mexico. Haile Cole describes her work in New York at a residential treatment program for previously incarcerated women in her lecture entitled “Examining Community Based Alternatives as a Response to the Women’s Growing Incarceration.” The fourth panelist, Alicia Paller-Rzepka, presents, “Think Globally, Forget Locally? An Analysis of the Global Human Rights Framework and the Erasure of Violence against Women in the United States” her analysis of the systemic issue of violence against women in the United States and its invisibility in the face of what are considered more pressing concerns of global human rights violations and gender based violence outside of US borders. Panel closes with questions and comments from the audience.

Linking Human Rights and Human Dignity with the Transgender, Gender Variant & Intersex Justice Project: A workshop with Miss Major

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Session is conducted in English. Session begins with a short slide presentation demonstrating the diversity of the transgender community and an introduction by Miss Major to the prison industrial complex as it relates to transgender individuals, followed by a short film screening featuring interviews with transgender people who have experienced the prison system. After the screening, Miss Major answers audience questions that relate to providing resources to incarcerated transgender people that would enable them to access medical and emotional support as well as engaging in activism to facilitate the recognition of transgender rights as human rights.

Making A Difference

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Miss Major, Director of the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project (TGI J), discusses her personal history, activism, and development of the TGI Justice Project. She details the human rights violations and abuses experienced by transgender people both in and out of the prison system, and the support needed by the transgender community. Because gender variant and transgender individuals are housed according to their sex as assigned at birth, transgender women are regularly subjected to abuse and sexual violence within the prison system as the result of unsafe housing. After Miss Major’s talk, audience members pose questions about voting rights in prison, being transgender allies, and supporting those who are currently incarcerated.

Pedagogies of Alliance Panel

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Session is conducted in English and Spanish. Panel discussion with Ruthann Lee [(Mis)guided Missions? Korean Women, Christianity, and Native (Im)migrant Relations in Canada], Faron Levesque [(Re)inventing Revolutionary Pedagogies in a Transnational America] and Monica Jasis Silberg (Ni Servicios Ni Derechos: los jóvenes mexicanos en el sistema de salud). Panelist Ruthann Lee presents a work in progress that analyses the intersections of race and power relations in Canada as they relate to colonial and capitalist histories. Faron Levesque examines the changing roles of pedagogy in the United States from a word that connotes power and authority to an ongoing ethic or worldview, allowing for innovation in instruction, or “radical pedagogy.” The final panelist, Monica Jasis Silberg, describes the current social crisis taking place in Mexico with particular focus on young children, many of whom do not have access to either education or employment. Session ends with questions and comments from the audience.

People United Radio: Conversation with Rethinking Power and Resistance Conference Organizers

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Program is conducted in English. People United, a weekly progressive news and public affairs show hosted by Allan Campbell on Austin’s community radio station, KOOP 91.7 fm, invited Rethinking Power and Resistance organizers on the air to discuss the conference. Kristen Hogan, Michelle Mott, T-Kay Sangwand, Rocío Villalobos, and Andrea Zarate participated in the conversation. The conversation was pre-recorded on September 23, 2012 at the KOOP studio and was edited for the September 28, 2012.

Re-thinking and Re-Action: Using Our Power to Resist (Closing Conversation with all Participants)

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Session is conducted in English and Portuguese. Rose Pulliam (allgo) facilitates the conference's closing session, an open discussion among conference participants centered around the themes of building resistance to structures of power and forms of activism. Dr. Kristen Hogan and Rocío Villalobos lead a writing exercise and share final comments.

Resistance Through Joy, Play and Community at a Women's Correctional Complex: Conspire Theatre's Rehearsing Possibilities Project

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Session is conducted in English. Workshop presented by Conspire Theatre Executive Director Katherine Craft; Conspire Theatre Associate Director Michelle Dahlenburg, and Workshop Facilitator Olivia Jimenez. This session is designed to provide a sample of exercises conducted in a typical Conspire Theatre class for incarcerated women. Workshop contains meditation exercises, role-play, and creative exercises and is followed with a discussion among participants.

Rethinking Power and Resistance Promotional Video

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Video is in English. Andrea Zarate created a post-conference promotional video which contains footage from the conference and interview clips with conference organizers and participants (in order of appearance) – Kristen Hogan, T-Kay Sangwand, Andrea Zarate, Hailey Mariel, and Kellee Coleman. [RT 05:22]

Scenes Unseen (Performance)

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Session is conducted in English. Video begins with a short performance by Irina Contreras, Nico Dacumos, Byron Jose, Ri Molnár and Christina Sanchez about the politics and process of immigration and militarized or forced migration. Performance is followed by a discussion of audience reactions and a discussion by artists on the creation of the performance.

Up against Walls: A Transnational Dialogue on Black Women, Health and the Prison System from Texas to Brazil

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Session is conducted in Portuguese and English. Panel discusses patterns of violence within the penitentiary systems in both Texas and Brazil; the panelists are Andreia Beatriz dos Santos, Hamilton Borges dos Santos, Christen A. Smith, with Matt Richardson acting as panelist and discussion moderator. After introductions, the panel begins with short presentations from each panelist on their work advocating for women in the penitentiary system. Panelists detail how the prison systems in both the U.S. and Brazil have been used as a tool for enacting racialized violence against black individuals and to maintain systems of racial oppression within society.

Women in Hip Hop Roundtable

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Roundtable discussion with artists Invincible, Yoli Zapata, Tru Bloo, Lah Tere, DJ Trinity, and Toofly. Moderated by Kellee Coleman and Rocío Villalobos. Discussion begins with personal introductions by moderators and panelists, who introduce themselves and detail their art, work, and activism. Topics covered include race, gender and deconstructing privilege through the production of art and music, experiences of panelists within the male-dominated field of hip hop music, and using art as a tool for social justice and activism.