Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

Prepped for grad school

By Kate Drakulic

Kendall Witaszek arrived at the University of Minnesota already confident that her academic future would rest in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Interested in feminism and racial justice, she began her studies in GWSS and along the way decided to major in both GWSS and political science, as well as to minor in Asian American studies and comparative race and ethnicity studies.

Iranian queer and Trans Refugees: Process, Policies, Politics

By Kate Drakulic

As a physiology major at San Francisco State University, Sima Shakhsari was headed to medical school. That was, until they took an elective course on women and politics of citizenship, which sparked their interest in the field of gender, women, and sexuality studies.At UMN, Professor Shakhsari teaches courses about sexuality, including the Politics of Sex, Transnational Feminist Theories, Immigration and Sexuality, and Introduction to LGBTQ Studies.

What does Feminist Engagement Mean in Current Political Times?

By Kate Drakulic

In a collaborative interview, Feminist Studies PhD students--Caitlin Gunn, Naimah Petigny, Nithya Rajan, and José Manuel Santillana--discuss what constitutes feminist engagement and the multitude of sociopolitical factors that make it necessary in the current political times.

Accepting Identity and privileges

By Kate Drakulic

Senior Montana Filoteo is pursuing a double major in gender, women, and sexuality studies and urban studies, along with a minor in social justice. They appreciate the holistic approach that this suite of programs offers them. GWSS offers a powerful complement to the urban studies courses that Filoteo recalls feeling initially frustrated with. For instance, they "talked about public transit and how it can be improved, but with no critique of gender or race or disability or class," which Filoteo recognized as an important part of the equation.

The Global Politics of Post-Abortion Care in Senegal

By Kate Drakulic

GWSS' newest full-time faculty member, Professor Siri Suh, is interested in the global politics of reproductive governance. She explores how transnational population policies intersect in ways that jeopardize women's reproductive health in Senegal. Specifically, Suh examines how global and national reproductive health policies that restrict access to safe abortion lead to a disproportionate risk of obstetric death and disability among young, unmarried, and low-income women.

Comparitive policies and understandings of street vending

By Kate Drakulic

After she was awarded the 2015–2016 Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship, Professor Lorena Muñoz took the opportunity to take her research abroad. Prof. Muñoz spent the previous academic year studying how neoliberal ideologies of space, adopted by local regimes, impact the economic lives of street vendors based on class, gender, sexuality, and race. Her work consisted of conducting, collecting, and comparing data from two cities: Bogotá, Colombia, and Johannesburg, South Africa.

LGBT Immigration: beyond tolerance

By Cindy Love

In the context of international immigration, the United States has a reputation as a "tolerant" country for LGBTQ migration, but this is often not the reality. In fact, if you are an immigrant in the US, it is often difficult to find affordable housing, healthcare, and a decent job. You might be viewed as a criminal or terrorist and be targeted by police and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The United States has a history of nationalism and colonialism that punishes those who do not fit the white, middle-class mold.

politics of sex workers

By Cindy Love

When Jayne Swift, a feminist studies doctoral candidate, was applying to graduate schools, she was immediately drawn to the University of Minnesota’s graduate program in feminist studies. Jayne, who researches commercial sex cultures and economies, came to feminist studies to work with Regina Kunzel (formerly the department chair of GWSS, now Doris Stevens Professor in Women's Studies at Princeton). Jayne saw an affinity with her own interest in the history of commercial sex and Dr. Kunzel’s expertise as a historian of gender and sexuality in 20th century US.

harvesting solidarity in the mangroves

By Cindy Love

“A year ago I would not have ever thought myself capable of waking up at 5:00 am to walk out into the ocean, crawl through the mangroves, and return to shore hours later carrying a bucket of oysters on my head,” noted senior GWSS major Alia Jeraj while discussing her four-and-a-half month study abroad program in Senegal last spring. Alia’s journey took her to Medina Sangako, a small village about five hours southeast of Dakar. There, Alia’s interest in women’s labor organizing led her to an internship with a local women’s oyster-harvesting collective.

the genius behind gwss department status

By Anna Blasco

Core founding faculty member Professor Naomi Scheman has long been a pivotal and innovative force in the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. While chairing the then Women’s Studies program from 1986–1989, she discreetly upgraded it to department status by simply ordering new stationery and correcting everyone–including deans–to use “department.” Her subversive spirit in and outside of the classroom is one of the things that makes her a true GWSS treasure and we are delighted to have the opportunity to honor her and her career on May sixth at the GWSS Retirement Celebration and Legacy Gala.

big ideas lead to big accomplishments

By Anna Blasco

“A degree in women’s studies, what does that mean? What could you possibly do with that?” Alumna (BA ‘99) Nicole Starr reflects on these key questions asked of her time and time again and replies quite simply, “More than you think.” After attending law school, Starr worked at the University in institutional relations, then served abroad in South Africa’s constitutional court. In 2014, Starr was appointed as a Ramsey County judge. Unsurprisingly, Starr received CLA’s Alumni Notable Achievement award. Her achievements certainly don’t end there, but Starr remains humble and remembers where it all began.

a closer look at sex trafficking rhetoric

By Anna Blasco

In 2007, when the United Kingdom marked the 200-year anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, the British government and its citizens celebrated their proclaimed role in abolishing slavery. Annie Hill, who was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge at the time, noticed something peculiar about Britain’s heroic portrayal of itself. Hill’s interest was piqued by the way Britain represented its abolitionist history and connected it to what is now referred to as “modern-day slavery”: sex trafficking.

pairing academics with passsion

By Anna Blasco

The Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies (GWSS) has created a culture of interdisciplinary critical thinking that encourages students to engage in their communities and bring their ideas into action. Olivia Riley, an undergraduate minoring in GWSS, has fully immersed herself in this culture.