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CWGS Faculty Development Program

The Center for Women's & Gender Studies is pleased to present our Faculty Development Program. This program is designed to assist in recruitment, retention and promotion of new faculty members by providing them with support of various kinds, including mentors and research funding.

Our goal is to welcome, inform and support our new colleagues. The faculty selected are outstanding young scholars who work in gender studies. We are very pleased to have them as members of the university community.

During the academic year, all of the participants give presentations in the Faculty Development Program Speaker Series. CWGS encourages interested faculty and students from the university community to attend the colloquium series to learn about and engage with the latest research in gender studies from across campus.

This program is part of a broader effort by CWGS to facilitate interdisciplinary research on campus by bringing together scholars trained in different methodologies and disciplinary traditions around a common theme. When interdisciplinary groups of scholars form broader intellectual communities, it also increases the likelihood that these scholars will go on to have successful research and become long standing members of our faculty.

To see a list of past FDP Fellows, Past FDP Fellows.

The Spring 2020 Faculty Development Program

February 12, 2020

Alison Kafer, Associate Professor (English, CWGS)

"After Crip Time"

Abstract: In this essay, Kafer thinks through “crip” as a temporal orientation—crip time as a way of being in the world or as a way of experiencing time—as well as temporal orientations to crip. What, in other words, comes after crip, individually and collectively, in practice and in theory? In exploring what might come after crip, she is following several entangled lines of inquiry: I am interested in “crip afters” in the sense of chronology (what happens next in time after crip); causality (what does crip cause); and desire (in the sense of being “after something,” so being in pursuit of crip). What kinds of coalitions, practices, formations, technologies, kinships, and temporalities are available after crip? Questioning what comes after as well as what we might be after brings together a wide range of theories on futurity and desire; it also provides a framework for exploring crip temporalities of trauma, an underexplored site for crip afters. Her desire to explore what comes after crip, or what might constitute a crip after, stems in part from my own ambivalent relations to crip time (and to crip itself). What does it mean to live in an/the after, especially from crip perspectives?

Bio: Alison Kafer is an associate professor of english and women's and gender studies, and she arrived at UT in January 2019. Her work focuses on how political/relational framings of disability can open up coalitional possibilities. She is particularly interested in cross-movement social justice work, namely how to think disability in and through movements for environmental, gender, racial, and reproductive justice. She is the author of Feminist, Queer, Crip (Indiana UP, 2013) and other essays on queerness and disability.

February 26, 2020

Beth Eby, Postdoctoral Fellow in Relational Race/Indigenous/Gender/Sexuality Studies, CWGS

“Health Education for Indian Girls”: Ella Deloria, Gender, and Physical Culture at Haskell Institute in the 1920s

Abstract: By the 1920s, most higher education institutions in the United States offered some component of physical education as part of their educational curriculum.  This included classes on calisthenics, health and hygiene, and recreational sports and games.  Although physical education was intended for both male and female students, the wake of World War I generated concerns that male U.S. citizens were not physically fit and required a renewed focus on the male body.  At Haskell Institute, an off-reservation federal Indian boarding school located in Lawrence, Kansas, national conversations about male physical fitness took hold, and the school’s physical education and athletic curriculum targeted only its male students.  However, in the early 1920s, Ella Deloria, a Yankton Dakota woman and employee of the national YWCA, arrived on Haskell’s campus with the intentions of reviving interest in women’s physical culture and education, which she accomplished through her deep investment with Haskell’s female students and coordinated efforts with the Office of Indian Affairs.

Bio: Dr. Beth Eby earned her PhD in History in August of 2019 from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and is currently a Postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.  She is currently revising her dissertation, Building Bodies, (Un)Making Empire: Gender, Sport, and Colonialism at Haskell Institute, 1880-1930, into her first monograph.  Her research and teaching interests include Indigenous History, Histories of Sport, Women’s and Gender History, and Histories of Empire and Colonialism.  

March 4, 2020

Michelle Velasquez-Potts, Embrey Postdoctoral Fellow, CWGS

"Suspended Animation: The Politics of the Feeding Tube in Carceral Times"

Abstract: Since 2002, prisoners  at Guantánamo Bay detention camp have been force-fed as punishment for hunger striking, prompting the question of whether the feeding tube is now being used as a torture instrument, and at what point the medical clinic becomes a site of punitive suffering. The coercive use of the feeding tube recalls a range of historical practices including the force-feeding of female anorexics in psychiatric hospitals, and of incarcerated British Suffragettes and Irish paramilitaries throughout the 1900s. By placing force-feeding practices at Guantánamo Bay within a history of medicalized technologies in the US carceral state, this paper investigates how post-9/11 torture techniques blur the line between life and non-life, inducing a state of what I call suspended animation. This paper begins to track how the functions of the feeding tube are altered and reimagined by the military toward punitive and abject ends in the name of biological life.

Bio: Michelle C. Velasquez-Potts is an Embrey Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at UT Austin. Her work focuses on the relationship between medicine and punishment, and in particular the rise of force-feeding post-9/11. She has published articles in the journals Women and Performance and Public Culture as well as the anthology Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (AK Press 2011). She received her PhD in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.

March 11, 2020

Curran Nault, Assistant Professor, Radio-Television-Film

"DIY Death: Currents and Continuations in the Queer Artivist Underground"

Abstract: In his 2003 essay, “Necropolitics,” Achille Mbembe coins the titular term as a rejoinder to Michel Foucault’s “biopower”: a disciplinary mode of power centered on regulating life via the body. Mbembe maintains that modern power is not so much concerned with life, but with making death: stipulating how some may live and others may die. Inferring more than a right to kill, necropolitics excavates an array of intensities that mark certain demographics for death—past-present violences of racism, trans-/misogyny, queerphobia and colonization chief among them—and that condemn persecuted parties to the status of eternally walking wounded. In this presentation, Dr. Nault will build on the necropolitical grounds of Mbembe to theorize a node of resistant potentiality: the intentional, hauntological inhabitation of spectral subjectivity within the DIY artivism of sub-altern queer media creatives. In so doing, He digs into his past writings on queer punk (Queercore: Queer Punk Media Subculture) as well as current research on the spectral strategies of queer activism and transmedia art, from the die-ins of ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), to the modern media assemblage designated “doom soul”: QTPOC artists like M. Lamar (NegroGothic) and Moor Mother (Fetish Bones), who (re-)animate the afterlives of racial and sexual trauma in their oppositional art. In so doing, Dr. Nault delineates a death-defying thesis: deploying necro-subjectivity, or performatively populating the “space of death,” today’s DIY queer creatives unearth what’s at stake for bodies and communities that continue to be consigned to the coffin. 

Bio: Curran Nault is the author of Queercore: Queer Punk Media Subculture (Routledge, 2018). He is an Assistant Professor in Radio-Television-Film at UT Austin, and a faculty affiliate of LGBTQ+ Studies in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and the Center for Asian American Studies. He has published in such journals as Jump Cut, Feminist Media Studies and The Journal of Film and Video. In addition to being an academic, Curran is also a documentary producer (Call Her Ganda) and an Artistic Director of the grassroots queer trans*media arts festival OUTsider.

April 1, 2020

Ashley Coleman Taylor, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, CWGS

“Afrekete, Afrekete, Ride Me to the Crossroads”: Religion, Gender and the Erotic in Audre Lorde’s Zami

Abstract: Using Audre Lorde’s biomythography Zami and its invocation of Afrekete, Dr. Coleman Taylor explores how erotic subjectivity and the feminine divine inform Lorde’s self-authorship and autonomy as she queers sex, sexuality, and relationships. This paper proposes that the future of the black femme, and possibilities for liberation, are grounded in a rich archive of queer erotic subjectivity.

First, she frames Audre Lorde’s Afrekete as an archival black femme figure whose power can be interpreted through African diaspora religious discourse. Second, she demonstrates the ways that an archival analysis of Afrekete (which traces the figure throughout the diaspora) can be used to envision and honor black femmes at the “shorelines;” the fluid, dynamic intersection between worlds, identities, temporality, and spatiality. She is also interested in the ways that black femme erotic subjectivity, like that of Afrekete, might inform a critical analysis of embodiment that engages the feminine divine. Her rendering of black femme erotic subjectivity is a deeply personal, spiritual, dynamic, and resistive praxis which feeds our impulses, our will to seek fuller engagement with self and other, and the place from which creative energies flow.

Bio: Ashley Coleman Taylor is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies. She earned a Ph.D. in Religion at Emory University, an Ed.M. in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a B.A. in both Religious Studies and Psychology from Spelman College. As an interdisciplinary ethnographer, she specializes in the intersecting lived experiences of black embodiment, black genders and sexualities, and Africana religion. She has been a Visiting Fellow at the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University and a Lecturer in the Institute for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State University. Her book, Majestad Negra: Race, Class, Gender and Religious Experience in the Puerto Rican Imaginary, is an intersectional black feminist approach to race, class, gender, and coloniality in Puerto Rico. The manuscript is a finalist for the National Women’s Studies Association/University of Illinois Press First Book Prize.

April 15, 2020

Pavithra Vasudevan, Assistant Professor, AADS, Geography, CWGS

"Entangled in flesh: Bodily archives of industrial ruination"

Abstract: In Badin, North Carolina, the everpresent threat of injury and accidental death were accepted as a fact of everyday life for workers at the aluminum production plant. However, increasing evidence of illness caused by occupational and environmental toxicity has driven former workers and their family members to reconsider the normalcy of premature death. This chapter examines bodies as critical nodes of racial capitalism through which industrial ruination is experienced and challenged. Recollections of physiological degradation, distress and death reveal racialized bodies as material and affective archives that disrupt the historical amnesia of capitalist and state violence. Drawing on interviews, participation observation of community meetings, health surveys and epidemiological data, I examine histories of corporeal suffering as archives of an already apocalyptic crip futurity.

Bio: Pavithra Vasudevan is an Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Vasudevan’s research addresses industrial toxicity as a manifestation of racial violence, capitalist entanglements with state and science, and the abolitional possibilities of collective struggle. Her manuscript in progress,_Toxic Alchemy: Black Life and Death in Racial Capitalism, is an ethnography of aluminum smelting in the Southern U.S. that re-examines industrial capitalism through Black feminist and geographic theories of body, humanity and earth. As a Critical Performance Ethnographer, Vasudevan develops arts-based collaborations with affected communities and is interested in collective knowledge production that bridges political thought and grassroots organizing. At UT Austin, Vasudevan is a core faculty member of the Feminist Geography Research Collective and advises the emergent Environmental Justice Collective. [](

April 29, 2020

Liesl Nydegger, Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Education

"HIV/STI Risk among Women of Color Who Experience Health Disparities"


HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates are disproportionately high among minority women and mothers compared to non-Hispanic white women in Central Texas. Substance use, intimate partner violence (IPV), and sexual risk behaviors interact, increase HIV risk, and are exacerbated by structural factors including housing, poverty, and lack of access/availability of healthcare. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a once-daily pill that can prevent HIV but uptake among women of color in the US has been extremely low, particularly in the South. This longitudinal, qualitative study explored the aforementioned factors experienced by Black (n=10) and Hispanic (n=6) mothers, particularly related to PrEP uptake. Participants completed 3 semi-structured interviews over 3 months. All participants experienced substandard/unstable. Participants were unable to access shelters or public housing, insurance, mental health resources, and used substances as a coping mechanism. All participants experienced recent IPV and those experiencing severe IPV experienced higher levels of poverty, worse housing situations, used more substances, and were at higher risk for HIV/STIs. Lack of PrEP access and uptake was due to PrEP stigma, HIV risk perception, IPV, medical mistrust, and clinic access. Structural-level interventions including policies where women experiencing IPV have temporary housing options, increased housing vouchers and low-income housing, income-generating programs, and more mental health and substance use services are essential. To increase PrEP adoption, participants suggested comprehensive support groups, increased access to insurance, and a health fair.


Liesl Nydegger, PhD, MPH, CHES is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Gender Health Equity Lab in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Nydegger earned her Ph.D. in Health Promotion Sciences and her Master's in Public Health from Claremont Graduate University, School of Community and Global Health. In 2015, Dr. Nydegger was awarded a 2-year Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional NRSA Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Center for AIDS Intervention Research, Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Nydegger was awarded a Fulbright-Fogarty Fellowship in 2012-2013 at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, Durban, South Africa. Dr. Nydegger's research interests focus on sexual health equity among vulnerable and underserved populations such as women who engage in problematic substance use and racial/ethnic minorities who experience health disparities.






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