This week’s brown bag was in celebration of International Women’s Day, which was this past Sunday, March 8, 2015. International Women’s Day, originally called International Working Women’s Day, was established in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America in response to a march that occurred in 1908. During this march, over 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding better pay, work hours, and voting rights. The brown bag featured Professor Cristina Serna from the Women Studies Department and Professor Ani Maitra from Film and Media Studies.
The first panelist, Professor Serna, started the brown bag with discussing artivism (artivismo), her research and experiences at Festival LesbianArte. Festival LesbianArte takes place in Mexico City and hosts a series of workshops, performances, and that functions to foster solidarity. Some of Professor Serna’s comments surrounded the spread of artivism in Latin America through social media and how the Festival LesbianArte interprets artivism. She shared a quote from the organizer’s that I thought was powerful: “art is the tool for social change and transformation, arte allows us to create spaces and faces, that are critical and emancipatory, that merge from our memories, reality and dreams. We profoundly believe that artivism opens and continues to open new paths for lesbians and feminism, in order to communicate our struggles and change our communities and societies.” Professor Serna also talked about translation within transnational activism, particularly how words and ideologies translate between languages, cultures, and location.
There have been many speakers on campus as of late, (Favianna Rodriguez, Aja Monet and Janet Mock) who have discussed the ways in which art can serve as transformations of silence and erasures, but what I started to contemplate after Professor Serna’s presentation, was how art can serve as translation. In thinking of how one can work across borders, physical and internal, art’s ability to connect to individuals across difference makes it an effective tool within social movements and social justice. In a lecture that Favianna Rodriguez gave during SORT’s Africana Women's Week, she expressed that art is crucial to equity. Culture shapes our minds, and inserting images, stories, narratives can create counternarratives that most of us our misinformed about and enact the political and systemic change that is needed.
Overall, the brown bag put a lot into perspective about what border feminism can look like, the role art and media have within transnational movements, and the ways in which we can enact change through artivism.
If you happened to miss the Brown Bag and would like to experience it for yourself, here is a link to the video: