NOV 15, 2012: "THE POLITICS OF A QUEER HABITUS IN BEIRUT"—A TALK BY DR. SOFIAN MERABET
This lecture analyzed the politics of a queer habitus as critical of wider class and gender relations in Beirut. While Sofian Merabet situated the social formations of dissident sexualities in urban Lebanon as a crucial locus for reconsidering conventional understandings of ethics, culture and citizenship in the Arab world, he provided a brief ethnographic sketch of the urban landscape through intimate practices on its margins, and paid close attention to the genealogy of contemporary constructions of norms and forms of social exclusion in Beirut. In particular, the talk attempted to develop a critical case in point for the study of sexuality and the city that examined the formations of Lebanese queer identities in relation to global processes of circulation and translation of gender models and ideas. Furthermore, it positioned the importance of gender and sexual habitus at the center of an often over-simplified political understanding of the notion of identity in Lebanon that, traditionally, has been defined on the exclusive basis of sectarian affiliation.
OCT 23, 2012: GENDER AND WOMEN'S STUDIES READING GROUP
GWST reading group events are open to all faculty, staff, and students (undergrad and grad) who are interested in reading and talking more about gender-related issues. You don't have to be affiliated with the GWST program to participate; this is a way for you to explore issues and get to know other people on campus with similar interests. During this meeting, we discussed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot.
About the book: From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive—even thrive—in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta's family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution—and her cells' strange survival—left them full of pride, anger and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, "Who owns our bodies?" And "Who carries our memories?"
— Tom Nissley, Amazon.com
OCT 22, 2012: DANIEL MATT TEXT STUDY SEMINAR: "SHEKHINAH: THE FEMININE HALF OF GOD"
The Center for Judaic Studies hosted this text study seminar with Kabbalah expert, Daniel Matt.