Transnational Gender and Sexuality Symposium

Thursday, February 14, 2008Transnational Poster
Various Times
Stern Center, Great Room

This one-day symposium offers perspectives from three scholars critically exploring sexuality and gender identities in relation to shifting cultural and national boundaries.

10:30 a.m. – Denise Brennan, Georgetown University
Love Work and Sex Work in the Dominican Republic
Suggested Readings:
1. Nicole Constable’s book: Romance on A Global Stage
2. Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Hochschild’s edited volume: Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy
3. Carla Freeman’s book: High Tech and High Heels in the Global Economy
4. Faye Ginsburg and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s edited volume: Uncertain Terms: Negotiating Gender in American Culture
5. What’s Love Got to Do with It? Transnational Desires and Sex, by Denise Brennan
1:00 p.m. – France Winddance Twine, University of California, Santa Barbara

Written on the Body: Hair and Heritage in Black Europe

2:30 p.m. – Karen Kelsky, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The Personal is Personal: Predicaments of the Lesbian Feminist Subject in Japan.

4:30 p.m. – Panel Discussion

The panel will explore such questions as: How does transnationalism affect cultural reproduction in intimate areas, such as family relations (husband-wife, parent-child), inter-generational ethnic relations, and the sphere defined as “private?”; How has transnationalism produced new intersections of race, gender and sexuality?; Does it make sense to speak of hegemony in the case of gendered images in transnational cultural currency? What is the evidence for the dialogue or interaction between the global images of women and local ones? We expect other questions from the audience will generate additional themes for discussion.

Co-sponsored by Department of Anthropology

Issue in Context
Recent shifts in international boundaries call established gender relations into question. This one-day symposium will critically examine gender, sexuality, and transnationalism with the help of three experts who will explore such questions as how the notion of transnationalism is being used to understand sexuality, ‘racial’ and gendered identity, sex work, and how the circulation of global images has affected gender in the Dominican Republic, England, and Japan.
It is estimated that four million women all over the world are involved in the global sex trade and every year that figure is rising. While these increases are in part due to globalization, they can also be explained by the widespread exploitation of women and children. The global sex trade is gendered (most prostitutes are women), ethnic (women from non-Western backgrounds are the primary subjects in the industry), and also national (certain countries, such as Thailand, are more popular than others). Denise Brennan will discuss the facets of the sex industry and why the largest numbers of sexually exploited women in Latin America come from the Dominican Republic.
Although people of color account for a significant proportion of European citizens, these populations are often ignored in popular and scholarly accounts. France Winddance Twine has studied the ways that children of multiracial heritage in second generation African-Caribbean communities must transfer their black identities to fit into English society. Transnational circuits of consumption enable white members of interracial families to function as the cultural clones of their black female relatives. Building upon Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of capital, a new form of capital called ‘ethnic capital’ theorizes and accounts for the labor that white birth mothers of African descent children perform to secure their children’s inclusion in second generation black diasporic communities in England. Ethnic capital is a form of capital that is highly valued by members of ethnic minority communities, and its possession facilitates social cohesion within black British communities and provides a form of cultural currency that reinforces ethnic belonging and social inclusion.
Until recently, homosexual desire in Japan was likened to a mental illness, while lesbian relationships were seen as spiritual rather than sexual connections. Although these sexual norms have changed dramatically in recent years, and the acceptance of lesbians is more widespread, traditional Japanese culture still stigmatizes homosexuality. There are expectations and pressures for women to marry and raise families. Also, stereotypes and the association of homosexuality with either pornography or Western society discourage women from even exploring their sexuality. Karen Kelsky will explain why many Japanese are still unwilling to believe that homosexuals can be “normal” Japanese people.

About the Speakers
Denise Brennan is an associate professor of anthropology at Georgetown University. Her research interests include the global sex trade, human trafficking, migration, and women’s labor in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2004, Brennan authored the book, What’s Love Got to Do with It?: Transnational Desires and Sex Tourism in the Dominican Republic and was awarded an American Association of University Women fellowship for the same academic year. Brennan received an M.A. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and both a MPhil and Ph.D. from Yale University.

France Winddance Twine is an anthropologist and a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her teaching areas and research interests include gender, girlhood, racism/anti-racism, feminist theory, critical race theory, field research methods, and multiracial/transracial families. She has also conducted extensive field research in Brazil, Britain and the United States, and authored numerous publications including her 1997 book, Racism in a Racial Democracy: The Maintenance of White Supremacy in Brazil. Twine is the deputy editor of the American Sociological Review, the journal of the American Sociological Association and serves on the editorial boards of Ethnic and Racial Studies. She holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Karen Kelsky is the head of the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, as well as an associate professor of East Asian languages and cultures and anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her work focuses on Japan, gender, sexuality, race, popular culture, and transnational cultural studies. Kelsky is the author of the 2001 book, Women on the Verge: Japanese Women, Western Dreams in 2001, and is currently working on a book project entitled The Personal is Personal: Reading the Lesbian in Contemporary Japan. She holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, and an M.A. in anthropology and Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu.