Faculty Research Grants

The Gender Institute offers grants to UB faculty to support research and/or curriculum development that exemplifies high quality, innovative scholarship related to women, gender, and sexuality. The Institute is particularly interested in supporting projects that are collaborative and/or interdisciplinary and those that will lead to applications for an external award. Grants range from $1,000 - $7,000 and can be used for data collection, archival research, fieldwork, research assistance, supplies, books, software, travel integral to the development of the project, and other forms of research support and curriculum development expenses that are allowable under UB guidelines. Funds can also be used for course releases with the support of the applicant’s department chair. Applicants must be full-time tenure-track faculty, teaching faculty, or research scientists at the University at Buffalo. Past recipients may reapply three years after a successful Gender Institute application.

Applications for 2024-2025 are due on October 28, 2024. There will be no spring cycle.

Applications should be sent to ub-irewg@buffalo.edu and must include:

1.     Application cover sheet, available here.

2.     Cover letter with project title, one-paragraph (200-word maximum) abstract, and the name(s), position(s), and department(s) of the applicant(s).

3.     Three- to five-page, double-spaced research proposal, including: projected outcomes, timeline for project completion, and specific budget with details of planned expenditures. Proposal should be written to be understood by someone who is not in the field.

4.     One page outlining how the application aligns with the mission of the Gender Institute and the extent of the applicant’s prior involvement with the Gender Institute.

5.     Current CV (short version of no more than three pages).

6.     List of previous and upcoming research support (grants, fellowships, leaves) and outcomes.

7.     List of external funding sources (secured or targeted), if applicable.

8.     If you intend to use the funds for a course release please provide a letter of support from your departmental chair.

Research grant applications will be evaluated by the Gender Institute’s Fellowship Awards Committee, which represents a cross-section of the university, and will be awarded based on the following criteria:

  • The quality and potential of the proposed research project and its relevance to women, gender and sexuality.
  • Planned application for external funding or award.
  • Collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of the project.
  • The completion record of previous research projects, if applicable.
  • The proposal’s ability to communicate the importance of the project beyond the applicant’s home discipline.
  • The applicant’s demonstrated commitment to participation in Institute programs.

Research Report: Within one year of receiving a research grant, recipients must submit a one-page summary of their research or research update, along with a description of how the award helped the recipient(s) pursue their research goals. Recipients will also present their research as part of a Feminist Research Alliance presentation or other GI event.

Spring 2024 Awardees

Annahita Ball

Good Mothering Ideology and the Educational Engagement of White Middle Class Mothers: A Qualitative Meta-Synthesis

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In this project, Annahita Ball will use qualitative meta-synthesis methodology to review andsynthesize existing research on white middle class mothers’ engagement in U.S. schools. Most research on parent engagement in schools focuses on understanding and improving schools’ efforts to engage marginalized parents. A growing line of inquiry investigates the engagement practices of white middle class parents, yet no theoretical frameworks exist to guide research and practice with this population. Current studies also do not focus on mothers, even though parent behavior is gendered and white women have been historically responsible for maintaining whiteness in their daily lives. Using good mothering ideology as a theoretical lens, this study will synthesize qualitative research on white middle class mothers’ engagement in education to uncover a new theory of educational engagement specific to white middle class mothers. Findings will guide the development of an intergroup dialogue (IGD) intervention to bridge differences across parents from differing social locations.

Dr. Annahita Ball, an Associate Professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, investigates the “school-adjacent” mechanisms that advance educational justice and health equity, such as social-emotional learning, family engagement, and school mental health service delivery. She conducts transdisciplinary community-engaged research in collaboration with education and mental health institutions, community mental health providers, and youth and families. In 2022, Dr. Ball launched the Western New York School Mental Health Taskforce to address the national youth mental health crisis and work closely with the Erie County’s Supporting Mental Health by Advocating by Resources Together (SMART) Collaborative. Her most recent research explores and develops strategies to bridge social division in American school communities.

Jenifer Barclay

Enabling Education: Black Women and the Education of Deaf and Blind Children in the Post-Emancipation South

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The archival research Jen will conduct this summer in Kentucky, Alabama, and North Carolina with the support of a Gender Institute Faculty Fellowship will contribute to her second book project and a scholarly journal article, “Her Yet Unwritten History: Black Women and the Education of Deaf and Blind Students in the Jim Crow South.” This article explores the long-overlooked role of Black women, both hearing and Deaf, who served as educators, administrators, and advocates for Black disabled children in the segregated South. Women such as Susan Lowe in Nashville, Tennessee – who opened a school for blind children in her own home when they were excluded from schools for Black (nondisabled) children and (white) blind children – drew on their own lived experiences of intersectionality to work against the overlapping forces of racism and ableism in their students’ lives.

Jenifer L. Barclay is an associate professor of history and associate director of the Center for Disability Studies. She is also a 2023-24 UB Humanities Institute fellow and a 2024-25 fellow at Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities. She is the author of The Mark of Slavery: Disability, Race, and Gender in Antebellum America (University of Illinois Press, 2021) and numerous journal articles and book chapters in publications such as Slavery & AbolitionWomen, Gender, and Families of Color, and the Oxford Handbook of Disability History. She is currently working on her second monograph, Between Two Worlds: A Black Disability History of Southern Education from Emancipation to Integration and completing a co-edited collection with Stefanie Hunt-Kennedy, Cripping the Archive: Disability, Historyand Power (forthcoming, University of Illinois Press).

Noelle St. Vil

An Investigation of Black Americans’ Experiences and Perceptions of High-Risk Domestic Violence

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Interventions to address intimate partner violence homicide (IPVH) largely rest with criminal justice and social service professionals. Yet, research demonstrates the need for community level interventions, specifically among Black Americans. However, there is a gap in what we know about Black Americans’ experiences, attitudes, and beliefs of high-risk intimate partner violence, and how to build community level responses to prevent IPVH.  This study seeks to fill this gap. A total of 800+ participants will be recruited via Qualtrics survey panels. Inclusion criteria are Black Americans, ages 18+. Participants will complete a survey on their experiences, attitudes, and perceptions of high-risk intimate partner violence.  Participants will be asked open-ended questions about community interventions to address IPVH. Univariate, bivariate and regressions will be used to analyze the data. Data will be used as pilot for an NIJ or OVW grant. Final products include a publishable manuscript and a conference presentation. By understanding high-risk IPVH from Black Americans perspectives,’ the identification and creation of community-based risk reduction strategies efforts is possible.

Noelle M. St. Vil is an Associate Professor in the UB School of Social Work. St. Vil is a graduate of Howard University, where she studied under Tricia Bent-Goodley, a leading expert in the field of intimate partner violence in the Black community. She completed her postdoctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University, under the guidance of world-renowned domestic violence expert, Dr. Jacqueline Campbell, creator of the Danger Assessment. Dr. St. Vil’s research focuses on supporting positive Black intimate relationships, with the aim of strengthening Black families and communities. Her research challenges scholarship that ignores systemic oppression, pathologizes, victim-blames, and stereotypes Black intimate relationships. Dr. St. Vil’s work highlights the disproportionate risks and dangers faced in Black intimate relationships but looks at these risks and dangers through a lens that is critical of historical and structural racism and affirming of Black resilience. Her scholarship concentrates on two dimensions of Black intimate relationships: 1) Violence Against Women; and 2) sexual behavior, health, and well-being. She has published 25 articles and seven book chapters.

Barbara Wejnert

Understanding Cultures of Democracy through Disempowered Communities' Adaptation to Climate Change Resilience Measures: Focus on Single-Mother Households

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The Proposed project will explore democratic conditions that facilitate - or hinder - vulnerable, disenfranchised citizens’ ability to participate in climate resilience measures. Specifically, the work will focus on women, who typically have lower socioeconomic status, social position, and earning power relative to men, and particularly single-mother households, who are considered to be the leading segment of the feminization of US poverty. The effect of cultures of American democracy to support a sustainable future will be measured through their impact on affordability, availability, familiarity, and equal opportunity of access and adaption to climate change resilience measures for single-mother households.

Dr. Barbara Wejnert is Professor in the Department of Environment and Sustainability and is also a faculty member at the Jaeckel Center for Law, Democracy, and Governing at the University at Buffalo. She is an award-winning author of research papers specializing in democracy, politics and energy security, political sociology, environmental sustainability, and gender. Her interdisciplinary, transnational research focuses on the worldwide diffusion of democracy, the rise of autocracy, and the effects of these changes on energy democracy, environmental sustainability, and gender equity. ​She is an author and editor of 14 books, including Diffusion of Democracy ( 2014), published by Cambridge University Press, a database Nations, Development and Democracy (2005) published by the Interuniversity Consortium for Social and Political Research, and over 80 peer-reviewed articles in professional journals related to democratizing processes and their consequences on environmental politics and sustainability, gender equality, and development. In 2016, her work on gender and democracy received the Inaugural Arlene Kaplan Daniels Paper Award. Her work on the diffusion of democracy was honored by its presentation at the US Congressional Reception as a poster highlighting sociological research with national policy significance.  

Fall 2023 Awardees

Nadine Shaanta Murshid

Transnational Middle-Class Bangladeshis Resisting Oppression

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In this project Murshid will elucidate the specific ways in which both oppression and resistance to oppression takes place. The project will reveal the mechanism through which oppression is produced in the context of migration, socio-economics, capital and labor flows, and representation of Bangladeshis in the Global North. On the solutions side, the project will examine the role of arts in producing cross-class solidarity and resistance to violence through inculcation of safe spaces and community building.

Nadine Shaanta Murshid is Associate Professor at the School of Social Work. Her research focuses on economic institutions, migration, structural violence, and partner violence in the lives of individuals in and from the global South.

Andrea Pitts

Latina/x Abolitionist Feminisms: Incarceration, Agency, and Coalitional Politics

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This Faculty Research Grant will support the mentorship and training of two graduate students to aid in the research for a second book project titled Latina/x Abolitionist Feminisms: Incarceration, Agency, and Coalitional Politics, a project that examines how U.S.-based Latina/x feminist scholars and activists have worked across coalitional spaces to critically respond to policing and prisons since, at least, the 1960s. This research training includes, specifically, an archival visit to the University of California’s Ethnic Studies Collection to help catalog and examine the archival materials of a prominent Chicana activist, educator, and researcher, Dr. Velia Garcia (d. 2012). During her lifetime, Dr. Garcia served as a faculty member in the Chicano Studies and Raza Studies programs at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University, respectively, and worked on the original steering committee of the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies. Alongside this academic work, she was also a founding member of the Vacaville Prison Project, an organization dedicated to prison education and advocacy work, including classes with non-incarcerated students in the Bay Area and incarcerated students at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville, California, a state prison located an hour north of the Bay Area. To this day, her contributions to anti-carceral feminism remain unexamined and her archival materials remain uncatalogued. As such, this support from the Gender Institute will enable two graduate assistants to help organize and study Dr. Garcia’s materials.

Andrea J. Pitts is an interdisciplinary researcher and educator whose publications and pedagogy focus on carceral medicine and radical health activism, Latin American and U.S. Latina/x feminisms, prison and police abolition, queer migration studies, critical transgender politics, and disability justice. They are the author of Nos/Otras: Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Multiplicitous Agency, and Resistance (2021), and co-editor of Beyond Bergson: Examining Race and Colonialism through the Writings of Henri Bergson (2019), Theories of the Flesh: Latinx and Latin American Feminisms, Transformation, and Resistance (2020), and Trans Philosophy (forthcoming 2024). Their current book project Latina/x Abolitionist Feminisms: Incarceration, Agency, and Coalitional Politics examines the philosophical contributions made by U.S Latina/x activists and scholars critiquing state violence, prisons, and policing from the 1960s to the early 2000s.

Michelle Sperlich

Survivor Moms’ Companion, a Psychoeducational Intervention for Pregnant and Parenting Survivors of Abuse and Trauma: Development of Spanish Language Translations

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Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to maltreatment is a strong predictor of intergenerational cycles of abuse and vulnerability. These cycles intersect during the childbearing years when unresolved trauma often adversely affects a woman’s mental health. Women of color are especially at risk for developing PTSD as well experiencing disparities for maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. Pregnancy is an opportune time to intervene to disrupt these cycles, however, screening and treating PTSD in the perinatal period is rarely undertaken. Therefore, readily available interventions for low-resourced and high-risk settings are warranted. Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network (BPPN) provides home visiting and other supportive services to pregnant women and their families who bear considerable burden of poverty, adversity, and disparities. Our previous collaborative research has established initial acceptability and feasibility for a novel front-line PTSD-specific perinatal intervention, the Survivor Moms’ Companion (SMC). In the proposed study, we will advance this reach of this intervention through creation and evaluation of Spanish-language translations of the client materials integral to the delivery of the SMC. This effort to increase equity of access to the BPPN Spanish-speaking clients will help to provide for the sustainability of the SMC at BPPN and further its trajectory of research capacity.

Mickey Sperlich, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work, is an experienced midwife and researcher who studies the effects of trauma and mental health challenges on women's childbearing and postpartum experiences and outcomes. She originally became interested in research in order to better understand the needs of her midwifery clients who were trauma survivors. Her first research project culminated in the book "Survivor Moms: Women's Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse," which was named the 2008 Book of the Year by the America College of Nurse Midwives. 

Sperlich has taken part in several trauma-focused perinatal studies and is co-author of a psychosocial intervention for pregnant survivors of abuse, the "Survivor Moms' Companion." She completed her PhD with a dual-title in Social Work and Infant Mental Health at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, in 2014. Sperlich is committed to developing and evaluating trans-disciplinary interventions to understand and address the sequelae of sexual violence and other trauma, particularly in relation to women's reproductive health and childbearing. Sperlich's research also examines the importance of a trauma-informed approach for positioning such interventions and fostering their success. Owing in part to its contribution to maternal mortality, a recent research focus includes looking at gun violence and how to better involve social workers in intervening to prevent such violence. 

Despina Stratigakos

Ella Briggs: The Life and Work of an Unconventional Architect and the Global Quest to Find Her

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For a long time, historians have searched for Ella Briggs. The talented artist, designer, and architect appeared at the turning points and places of history: she painted with the Secessionists in Vienna, created luminous rooms in Gilded Age New York, and erected workers’ housing in Red Vienna before opening her own firm in Berlin at the height of the roaring twenties. By the time Hitler came to power and she fled to London, she had attained an international profile. Yet after her death, historians lost sight of her.

Briggs’s skill in navigating borders and different cultural contexts, which placed her at the hotspots of public discourse about modernism for much of the twentieth century, worked against her inclusion in the history books. Individual scholars have struggled to reconstruct the many facets of her career across place and time, and she remains a shadowy figure in modernist history, even as her name lingers in the margins.

In an ambitious effort to finally reveal Briggs’s story, Despina Stratigakos and Elana Shapira have assembled a team of American, Austrian, British and German historians to collaboratively produce a biography. Scouring archives and attics, they have made breakthrough discoveries about Briggs, her networks and projects, and the transmission of ideas about modern design. Written in an accessible style, the book offers the fascinating story of an inspiring designer determined to leave her mark in these world capitals as well as a new model for writing the elusive histories of women architects.

Despina Stratigakos is a writer, historian, and professor of architecture at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Her research explores how power and ideology function in architecture, whether in the creation of domestic spaces or of world empires. She is the author of four books. Stratigakos has also published widely on issues of diversity in architecture and promotes awareness of the topic with broad audiences. In 2011, she collaborated with Mattel on the design and launch of Architect Barbie in Mattel’s “I Can Be” Barbie career series. She has been involved in Wikipedia edit-a-thons to increase the women in architecture content on the influential website. She has published in The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, and Al Jazeera, among other media outlets. She is a regular contributor to Architect Magazine and Places Journal, where she has published on themes such as the “bro” culture of Albert Speer’s office and gendered stereotypes of architects in Hollywood films.

Gwynn Thomas

Feminist Activism, Right-Wing Populism and the Struggle for Democracy in Latin America

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In Feminist Activism, Right-Wing Populism and the Struggle for Democracy in Latin America, Thomas builds off of extensive field research in Chile to examine the relationships between the growth of vibrant feminist movements and the rise of a new form of right-wing politics. She argues that feminist activism and feminist-inspired social movements have been at the forefront of current attempts to deepen democratic practices and confront social injustice. However, the growth of feminist movements has also been accompanied by the rise of a new form of right-wing populism that particularly target feminist movements and their political gains in on-going right-wing attempts to usher in illiberal and authoritarian politics. While in the past, the political right in Chile—and elsewhere in Latin America—was rooted in a traditional form of heteropatriarchy that valorized the family and rooted men’s political power in their roles as fathers and heads of households, thus positioning women first and foremost as mothers, wives, and daughters, more recent right-wing populist movements have embraced and centered a virulent form of hyper-masculinity based on misogynistic and homophobic. This targeting of feminist gains by rising right-wing populists shows both how powerful feminist ideas have become and the importance of backlash politics in understanding the rise of right-wing populism.

Gwynn Thomas (Chile) is an associate professor and Chair of the Department of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Her first book, Contesting Legitimacy in Chile: Familial Ideals, Citizenship, and Political Struggle, 1970–1990 (2011), examines the mobilization of familial beliefs in Chilean political conflicts. Her published work on gender politics, feminist movements, women’s political leadership and participation, and feminist institutionalism appears in The Journal of Women, Politics and Policy; The International Feminist Journal of Politics; Gender & Politics; The Journal of Latin American Studies; Comparative Politics; Comparative Political Studies; Journal of Politics in Latin Americas; and The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, as well as a number of important edited collections. She received the Elsa Chaney Award in 2007 from the Gender and Feminist Studies section of the Latin American Studies Association. She is currently working on the relationships between the growth of vibrant feminist movements and the rise of a new form of right-wing politics in Chile, and across Latin America.

Spring 2023 Awardees

Sarah Robert

Teaching, Gender, and (Covid) Policies

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“Teaching, gender, and (Covid) policies” is concerned with documenting teachers’ work experiences from March 2020 (the onset of Covid-19) to present in Argentina, Chile, the UK, and USA. This study also is concerned with theorizing changes to the relationship of gender and policy from the perspective of teachers and their work. The authors seek to build on and contribute to a global literature concerned with women’s paid and unpaid labor as well as studies of how gender shapes and is shaped by policy discourses, texts, and practices.

Dr. Sarah A. Robert is an international education policy expert. She critiques how policy and politics shape and are shaped by the intersectional qualities of gender in global, South American, and US urban contexts. Her ethnographies and qualitative, social science-informed studies are concentrated on three areas: teachers’ work, school food, and curriculum/textbooks. As a first-gen, feminist, interdisciplinary public intellectual, she strives to demystify policy, to cultivate and support policy protagonists through teaching and long-term community collaborations, and to transform educational decision making into an inclusive process focused on realizing human rights and just transitions in educational institutions and for societies. Dr. Robert is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education, Learning and Instruction Department and an Affiliated Faculty member in Global Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Jasmina Tumbas

Queer and Feminist Yugoslav Diaspora: Art of Resistance Beyond Nationhood

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This funding will support the research, writing, and organization of two projects, both emerging out of a major research focus on gender and sexuality in the former Yugoslav region: 1) A single-authored, peer-reviewed book: Queer and Feminist Yugoslav Diaspora: Art of Resistance Beyond Nationhood, which is the first comprehensive study of the last generation of feminist, queer, and Romani artists, filmmakers, and activists coming out of the 1990s wars in former Yugoslavia and now dispersed in diasporas around the world. This requires archival research and international travel (completion goal: end of2024). 2) An exhibition based on her first book (I am Jugoslovenka, 2022) and a new book project (Queer and Feminist Yugoslav Diaspora).

Dr. Jasmina Tumbas is an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies, where  she serves as the Director of Graduate Studies. As an art historian and gender studies scholar, she teaches courses on global feminist and queer histories and theories of art and politics, looking closely at the tensions between gender, citizenship, sexuality, and the state, and how diverse forms of representations ranging from (but not limited to) art, film, photography, and music videos are mobilized politically. Her writing and research focus on gender and sexuality in Eastern Europe after WWII, with an emphasis on former Yugoslavia, as well as popular representations of ethnic Roma in the Balkan region centered on questions of gender, citizenship, immigration, and race.

Kari Winter

Finding Love Amid the Rubble of Extractive Capitalism: A Case Study of Connecticut, 1765-1817

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This project focuses on building an illuminating history of gender, race, disinheritance, and rebellious love based on the fragmentary appearances of women's experiences and women's voices in the family papers of two prominent lawyers, Benjamin Stiles, Sr. and Benjamin Stiles, Jr., whose activities included not only practicing the legal profession and helping to write laws but also the enslavement of Africans, appropriation of Indian lands, investments in mines, and extracting sexual, reproductive and domestic labor from a range of women. 

Dr. Kari Winter is a Professor of American Studies in the Department of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies. She served as the Director of the UB Gender Institute (2011-17) and Executive Director of the UB Humanities Institute (interim, 2017-18).  She completed a PhD in English at the University of Minnesota (1990) and a BA in English and History at Indiana University (1981).  Her books include The American Dreams of John B. Prentis, Slave Trader (Race in the Atlantic World series, U of Georgia P, 2011), The Blind African Slave: or, Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nick-named Jeffrey Brace (scholarly edition of long-lost 1810 slave narrative; Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography series, 2005), and Subjects of Slavery, Agents of Change: Women and Power in Gothic Novels and Slave Narratives, 1790-1865 (U of Georgia P, 1992, 1995, 2010). 

Fall 2022 Awardees

Linda Kahn & Sarah Abdelsayed

The Mother’s Justice Project: Exploring the experiences of pregnant and parenting women with substance use and justice involvement

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Linda Kahn (left) & Sarah Abdelsayed (right)

This qualitative study focuses on pregnant and parenting women’s experiences in the justice system in relation to motherhood and substance use recovery. These women confront a triple stigma of justice-involvement, substance use, and negative societal judgment about their roles as mothers. They encounter systemic barriers to treatment and support. Investigators are conducting interviews with justice-involved women to learn how they navigate motherhood, substance use treatment, and justice system requirements. The research questions explore: (1) How do participants conceptualize their roles as mothers; (2) Which contextual and intersectional factors affect access to substance use treatment, health care, social services, and other resources; and (3) How has the justice system helped or hindered their ability to recover from addiction and achieve their personal goals, especially related to motherhood? 

Linda S. Kahn, PhD, is a Research Professor and Associate Vice Chair for Research with the Primary Care Research Institute in the Department of Family Medicine. Sarah Abdelsayed, MD, is an Assistant Professor and the Associate Program Director of the Addiction Medicine Fellowship in the Department of Family Medicine.

Melinda Lemke

School District Residency, Retention, and Community Well-being: A Policy Analysis at the Intersection of Class, Gender, and Race

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This funding will support an interdisciplinary social policy project focused on the following three areas: 1. public employee residency policies and relevant case law; 2. educator retention and attrition patterns in U.S. schools (pre- and post-Covid); and 3. factors contributing to staff and student overall health and well-being. Utilizing multiple qualitative methods, we will examine the history and contemporary existence of these policies and patterns, with specific attention paid to factors supporting and/or hindering educator and student social determinants of health. This research builds on previous critical, feminist, and critical race educational policy analyses by aiming to unpack hidden and visible power dynamics embodied within policy, discourse, and contextualized practice, which in turn shape the work experience of women educators and schooling experience of historically underserved and/or minoritized students.

Melinda Lemke (she/her/hers), PhD, is an Associate Professor of Educational Policy, Global Gender and Sexuality Studies Affiliated Faculty, and Honors College Faculty Fellow. Dr. Lemke is a former K-12 practitioner, qualitative methodologist, and her research areas include neoliberal educational reform, the politics of education, forced displacement, and how social policies and actors reinforce and/or ameliorate structural violence in the lives of young women and girls. Her work can be found in a range of practitioner, policy, and research outlets, including journals such as Children's GeographiesGender and Education, and Journal of Education Policy

Carine Mardorossian

The Creolized Ecologies of Caribbean Fiction

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Over the last few decades, Caribbean studies has been instrumental in reconfiguring postcolonial studies by challenging the field’s focus on nationalist and identity-based rubrics. It has promoted a groundbreaking New World perspective called “creolization” that favors relationality and hybridity over the exclusionary logic of identity-based thought by highlighting the transcultural exchanges that occur both inside and across national, racial, linguistic, and class boundaries in a Creole society. Today, creolization’s cultural crossfertilization has been widely endorsed both as more reflective of our global and intersectional realities and as an emancipatory project. Indeed, its radical challenge to viewing racial, national, and cultural differences as discrete and categorical sites of alterity thwarts the process of establishing hierarchies based on such differences. Nevertheless, while postcolonial studies now almost uniformly embraces creolization’s coming together of cultures, languages, and races, the counterpart of cultural cross-fertilization in environmental studies is far from viewed as liberatory. When it is life forms rather than cultural forms that are at stake, the interaction between organisms from widely disparate places of origin often entails environmentally perverse rather than progressive effects that need to be managed. The enormous threat to Caribbean islands and their unique biodiversity from introduced invasive species is a case in point.

Creolized Ecologies examines the implications for Caribbean environmental and geographical realities of Caribbean literary representations of social, cultural, and national identities. In so doing, it brings into relief the incongruencies that often characterize depictions of environmental spaces in Caribbean fiction.

Carine M. Mardorossian, PhD, is a Professor of Global Gender Studies and English,  and Affiliated Faculty of Romance Languages and Literatures and Environmental and Sustainability Studies.

Katja Praznik

Advancing a Feminist Agenda through Art Workers’ Organizing: Toward an International Comparative Analysis

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Photo credit: Jaka Babnik

Art Work: Invisible Labour and the Legacy of Yugoslav Socialism (Praznik, 2021) argues that the invisibility of labor in the arts is gendered. But so is the labor movement. The current project is an extension of the book insofar as it seeks not just to expose the invisibility of art work as labor but to now work to render art visible as a form of labor: to this end, it is necessary to turn to labor organizing and unionization. With a group of majority women art workers in Ljubljana, we founded an art workers union. This new project will use this effort as a template to investigate whether the unionization of art workers could be replicated in the United States, and if not, why not?

Struggles against labor exploitation and fair payment in the arts have seen a new rise globally, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Women and labor struggles that concentrate women or feminized labor have been central to this resurgence, yet labor movements continue to be perceived as a masculine affair. This project will partially provide a redress to the lopsidedness of representations that fail to account for the presence and organizational skills of women in labor organizing.

Katja Praznik, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Arts Management Program and Department of Media Study.

Marla Segol

The Magical Womb of God: a history of pregnancy, power, and the feminine divine in Jewish ritual texts

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This book is a medical humanities project exploring the mythological and ritual functions of scientific narratives of reproduction, gestation, and birth (embryologies) in Jewish ritual texts from late antiquity to the present. It is also a project in reparative reading, for while there is much talk of the Divine Feminine, there is little to ground that narrative in historical sources. To this end, the author will translate and analyze Hebrew texts that ritualize embryologies in instructions for prayers and incantations, performed by expectant fathers and pregnant mothers to request the safe delivery for mother and child, and by the whole community as petitions for rain. The texts date from late antiquity to modernity, with the earliest sources written exclusively by men, while some early modern and modern works are authored by women. Male-authored texts include Jewish legal texts (Talmud, 4th-6th C Persia), medical compendia (4th-6th C Persia), piyyutim or liturgical poetry (3rd-9th C Persia and Byzantium), and mystical (kabbalistic) texts (13th-16th C, Iberia and Palestine). In this way we see the relation between scientific narrative, religious myth, and ritual power, for as these embryological text develop myths focusing on divine maternity, they afford greater ritual power to the women who use them. 

Marla Segol, PhD, is an Associate Professor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Kim VanDerLinden & Tricia Lyman

Living in two worlds: Exploring their cultural resiliency of Haudenosaunee adult women after adoption, as children, into white families

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Kim VanDerLinden (Not pictured: Tricia Lyman)

This research seeks to accomplish three primary outcomes. First, it will provide a historical perspective on adoption, specifically within the Haudenosaunee Confederacy during the 20th century. Secondly, this research will result in the publication and sharing of the stories of Haudenosaunee women who were adopted as children into white families. In addition, this research seeks to advance our understanding of how Haudenosaunee women come to understand their cultural identity as adults and in relation to their adoption into white families. The women’s life stories will be aligned with HeavyRunner and Morris’s (1997) theory of cultural resiliency in order to provide insight as to the applicability of this theory to this group of women who were removed from their birth culture and forced to assimilate to the dominant white culture.

Kim VanDerLinden, PhD, is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Interdisciplinary Social Sciences program at the University at Buffalo and an Adjunct Professor at the College of William and Mary. Tricia Lyman, EdD, is a Clinical Assistant Professor Clinical Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences Interdisciplinary program at the University at Buffalo.

Jinting Wu

Vulnerable Fatherhood: Masculinity, Disability, and Moral Becoming in China’s Special Education Schools

Photo shows a woman with dark hair, wearing a scarf and looking at the camera.

This study examines the less-known realm of vulnerable fatherhood in the practical and emotional realities of raising and educating children with disabilities in urban China. It is set in a particular type of institutions called special education schools where students with complex needs are accommodated in socially, spatially, and educationally segregated spaces. In China’s cultural and familial ideals, women bear disproportionate shame associated with birthing “less-than-perfect” offspring; as well, the “diminished” personhood of children with disabilities also renders fatherhood fragile and insecure. This study explores the embodied practices of “caring masculinities” performed by fathers, in the context of a special education school where disability profoundly destabilizes men’s self-understanding in relation to their children, partners, and educators. How do fathers navigate the fraught terrains of masculinity and (dis)ability and engage in the worlds of care? How do they mesh lingering patriarchal ideals with new embodiment, emotionality, and moral becoming in their everyday encounters in and out of the special education school? This study, part of a larger research on disability segregation in contemporary China, explores vulnerable fatherhood as a site of gender and disability intersection, and as the unintended consequence of a patriarchal structure that supposedly privileges men. 

Jinting Wu, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Educational Culture, Policy and Society in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy.

2021-2022 Awardees

The Gender Institute congratulates the recipients of the 2021-2022 Faculty Research Grant: Yige Dong, (Sociology), Ndubueze Mbah (History), Deborah Reed-Danahay (Anthropology), Elizabeth Scarlett (Romance Languages and Literatures), Amy VanScoy (Information Science) and Co-investigators, Heidi Julien (Information Science), Deborah Hicks (School of Information SJSU), and Alexandra Zirkle (Jewish Thought).

2019-2020 Awardees

The Gender Institute congratulates the recipients of the 2019-2020 Faculty Research Grant: Katharina A. Azim (Psychology), Laina Bay-Cheng (School of Social Work), Kathleen A. Parks (Psychology), Noelle St. Vil (School of Social Work) and Paola Ugolini (Romance Languages and Literatures).