Celebrating International Women's Day
Scholar to present talk: “Re-Imagining Immigrants as Heroes: The Visual Politics of Gender, Race and Immigration”
Irene Mata, an assistant professor of women’s and gender studies at Wellesley College, will be coming to Wheaton to give a lecture as part of International Women’s Day on Wednesday, March 5, in the Wooley Room in Mary Lyon Hall at noon.
Professor Mata’s lecture is titled “Re-Imagining Immigrants as Heroes: The Visual Politics of Gender, Race and Immigration.”
The lecture will focus on two artistic portrayals of immigrants: the “Superheroes” photo series by Dulce Pinzon, and Laura Alvarez’s multimedia series “Double Agent Sirvienta.” Both seek to show immigrants as heroic and larger than life, in sharp contrast to the marginalization and invisibility that Mata says she believes is often created by workers’ immigration statuses and the jobs they take.
Professor Kim Miller, the chair of Wheaton’s Women’s Studies Department, said that she invited Mata because the speaker’s work is socially relevant and engages several different disciplinary areas.
International Women’s Day is usually observed on March 8 (although throughout its history it has been observed on several other days), and is widely used as a platform to focus on women’s issues, such as workplace discrimination and violence against women.
Professor Mata grew up in El Paso, Texas, and her work focuses mostly on the ways in which women of color are represented in contemporary culture. Within this field, she has a particular focus on immigration and labor. Mata has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from New Mexico State University, and a doctorate from the University of California, San Diego.
Professor Miller involved students in the planning for International Women’s Day, inviting Wheaton’s women’s studies majors to her house for dinner in December. At that planning session, the students voted unanimously to invite a guest speaker.
“They really value the chance to listen to a scholar or professor talk about her work, and then talk to the students afterward,” Miller said.
As of last year, planning for International Women’s Day at Wheaton is a collaboration between the Women’s Studies Department, the Center for Global Education, the Marshall Center for Intercultural Learning, and the Office of Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership. Events planned often include a guest speaker and student poetry or spoken word performances.
This year, Professor Miller will introduce the program and the speaker, and Professor Donna Kerner will give an introduction to the history and meaning of International Women’s Day.
Professor Miller said that Wheaton’s observance of the day is important, especially given the college’s history as an institution of higher education for women.
“Our history as a women’s college sets us apart from many other colleges in terms of our historic commitment to furthering the education of women and supporting their intellectual work,” she said.
International Women’s Day has been observed since 1908, when 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City demanding voting rights and better pay.
“Because countries all over the world recognize and celebrate the day, our activity links us to scholars and activists all over the world who are, on this one day, focusing on the lives, achievements, struggles and experiences of women,” Miller said.—Adam Kilduff '16
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