Feminist Research Alliance

Founded in 2010, the Feminist Research Alliance Workshop advances and energizes interdisciplinary conversation and collaboration among feminist scholars locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. At our convivial meetings, faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars present and discuss research-in-progress.  A fertile space for idea-incubation, the workshop also is community-building, enabling students and faculty to network with potential committee members, mentors, and colleagues beyond the boundaries of their home departments. All events are free and open to the public.

Fall 2021

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Cody Mejeur

Assistant Professor
Department of Media Study

Storytelling in Queer and Trans Video Games

Wednesday, November 10, 2021


To register to receive a link, please go to: 

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Jim Holstun

Department of English

Big Red Books: Simone de Beauvoir, Nawal el Saadawi, and Social Reproduction Theory

Thursday, September 23, 2021


Recording coming soon! 

Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949) and Nawal el Saadawi’s The Naked Face of the Arab Woman (1974; translated as The Hidden Face of Eve) are two classics of socialist feminist theory. But they are almost never called that. Marxist theorists disinterested in gender and sexuality chronically neglect them, while liberal and post-structural feminists tend to overlook the historical materialist dimensions of their work, with an additional dollop of condescension in referring to Saadawi as “The Simone de Beauvoir of the Arab world.”

But Beauvoir is the Beauvoir of the Arab world, as Saadawi is the Saadawi of the Rive Gauche, and beyond. And there are profound and illuminating affinities between their two big books, which use multiple analytical disciplines, including literary criticism, in a project of methodological totalization. The recent explosion of socialist feminism under the rubric of “social reproduction theory” should incorporate the crucial theoretical work of these precursors, who are also, not incidentally, socialist feminist novelists.

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Jean Wactawski-Wende

Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Women’s Health Initiative (WHI): Updates 1993-2027

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Noon-1:30 PM 

Recording coming soon! 

Jean Wactawski-Wende, PhD, is dean of the School of Public Health and Health Professions (SPHHP). She leads the school’s strategic initiatives, oversees its academic offerings, resources and people, serves as an active member of university’s senior leadership team, and represents the school in the community and the profession.  Under Jean’s leadership, the school has increased its enrollment and programs, becoming one of the fastest-growing schools of the university. She has also focused the school’s efforts on further developing its status as part of a Research 1 institution, emphasizing work that results in evidence-based solutions to helping improve the health of communities and populations.  As an internationally recognized epidemiologist who focuses her research on understanding factors that influence women’s health, Jean has spent more than 30 years conducting research on, among other areas, risk factors and prevention of cancer, osteoporosis, and periodontal disease in postmenopausal women. She is the principal investigator of UB’s Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Center and leads the WHI Northeast Regional Center.  Initiated in 1993, WHI is a National Institute of Health (NIH)-funded, multi-center study that involves randomized clinical trials and an observational longitudinal study examining the major factors influencing morbidity and mortality in older women.  Jean has served in various leadership roles in WHI including as the national chair of the WHI Steering Committee.


Spring 2021

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Melinda Lemke

Assistant Professor
Graduate School of Education

Melinda Lemke is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University at Buffalo, SUNY.  An interdisciplinary, qualitative educational policy researcher, she examines the politics of education, normative culture, and how policy and policy actors address youth marginality, gender violence, and displacement.  Prior to her position at UB, Melinda held a post-doctoral research position Swansea University, Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law, Observatory on Human Rights of Children.  Her research and teaching also is shaped by a previous career in U.S. urban public education.

Researching the Margins: Feminist Critical Policy Analysis as a Framework of the Center

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

12:00 - 1:30pm
Zoom Platform

Decades of social science research documents the harmful effects of violence, and in particular gender-based and sexual violence, on adolescent female mental, physical, and socioemotional health.  These effects not only can impair development, but prompt negative short- and long-term problems in adulthood.  Despite the existence of long-standing multi-level prevention and intervention legislation and programming, gaps in educational policy research and educator practice remain.  In this talk, Lemke presents feminist critical policy analysis (FCPA) as an integral framing device in the examination of educational policy-making and those normative, but often hidden arrangements of power, which can have intended, unintended, and enacted discriminatory consequences for women and girls.  Lemke also invites critical discussion and reflection on nuanced ethical, methodological, and political considerations, both within and outside of field research.

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Hilary Vandenbark

PhD Candidate
Global Gender and Sexuality Studies

Hilary Vandenbark currently serves as the Graduate Assistant to the Gender Institute. In 2019, she was a Women and Public Policy Fellow at the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society, SUNY Albany. Vandenbark worked as a housing and economic security policy consultant at the New York Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence as part of the fellowship. Vandenbark hopes to continue working in government policy on sexual and gender-based violence upon completing her dissertation, which examines the legislative process and implementation of New York's Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights Act of 2018. 

“Ally or Adversary? Rethinking Feminist Relationships with the State Post-MeToo”


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

12:00 - 1:30pm - Zoom Platform 

Recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NmdSZrzCB4

In this talk, Vandenbark discusses how feminist relationships with the state are evolving through a complex interaction of shifting political landscapes, social movements (such as MeToo, Black Lives Matter, RISE, etc.), and bureaucratic reforms. These changes create strategic opportunities for anti-violence advocates which Vandenbark analyzes utilizing Kimberly Morgan and Ann Shola Orloff's conceptualizion of the "many hands of the state" (2018) as well as Indigenous feminist frameworks on state violence. She critically examines the role of the state in addressing sexual violence, as well as the lack of feminist attention to “small S” states, where most sexual assault cases are addressed and adjudicated. Drawing on her dissertation case study of New York’s Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights (2018), Vandenbark explicates the roles of insiders and outsiders in shaping state responses to sexual violence and the social context in which these changes take place.

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Katharina Azim

Clinical Assistant Professor

Professor Azim's research centers around women’s reproductive health, agency, and rights in the United States, and specifically on experiences of genito-pelvic pain and psychosocial factors of painful sexual intercourse in young women. Her second line of research encompasses MENA/Arab/Muslim+ women’s perceptions of ethnic identity at the intersection of geopolitical, sociocultural, religious, and gendered factors.

"Preaching Guilt: Religion and Experiences of Painful Sex in College Women"

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 

12:00 - 1:30pm  -  Zoom Platform

Recording here: https://youtu.be/e4Rb8MDNTA4

This research project investigated the relationship between women college students’ pelvic health, sexuality, and religiosity. Currently 20-26% of young women report chronic pain during sexual activity, which is generally a highly preventable and treatable condition. Considering that young girls and women grow up with strong messages about permissible and taboo sexual conduct, gendered expectations of what constitutes “normal” pain-free sex, and the privileging of vaginal-penile intercourse over other forms of non-penetrative sexual activity, we tested if religiosity and religious teachings were contributing factors to women’s experiences of painful sex. Specifically, we examined the relationship between the prevalence of genito-pelvic pain with sex among sexually active female college students based on their sexual conceptualizations and practices, religious self-identification, belief and exposure to religious teachings, and the experiences of sexual shaming and guilt.