Students in Cultural Studies held a fast-paced, wide-ranging, and deep-thinking symposium on November 17.
MA student Emily Veysey kicked things off describing the “Mother of All Games Jams” she is supporting as RA to profs Lauren Cruikshank (UNB) and Sarah Stang (Brock). Contrary to popular impression, 48% of gamers are female, and 77% of parents play video games with their kids. The planned event will welcome women-identified people and kids, digital and analog games, and players of all levels, doing double duty as part of a research program and a community-building and skill-sharing occasion. Em Harmsen, who just finished her MA, also spoke of work done beyond the thesis. She designs clothing and websites to EESI standards (ethical, ecological, stylish, and inclusive), and has an event space to facilitate creative community enterprises of various sorts. Incoming MA student Abby McLean spoke about the ethics of international development work, taking as her example her own experience with the NGO ‘Travel for Impact’ in Botswana.
PhD students also presented a wide array of topics. We heard a fascinating overview of the history of tattoos in the US from Christina Fabiani, tracing the class, race, and gender pathways tattoos have taken as artform and profession. Brenna McDougall, working in posthumanist political theory, is drawing from the work of Karen Barad and Hannah Arendt in conceptualizing political agency as interactive, embodied, and available to beings other than humans. Idorenyin Williams told us about a project she is beginning on sexual violence in spaces of resource extraction in Northern Canada and the Niger Delta. She plans to use “photovoice” to allow research participants to narrate and document their own lives. Samia Khan, well along into her work on the threatened status of the Urdu language in India, eloquently described the violent machinery of disenfranchisement and dehumanization that is being pursued through language policy. Joel Oliver-Cormier’s work critiques the ways science fiction often relies upon colonial logics and “managerial ontologies,” taking or making “new” space into a resource for imagining settler colonial futurities. To wrap up the day, Lara Bulger gave a survey of the limitations and possibilities of documentary activism by looking at representations of the North by the NFB and, more recently, by Inuit film-makers.
Thanks so much to presenters, audience members, and of course the organizers. Not only were the presentations fascinating, but many participants had the chance to meet for the first time. And many alluring loose ends were left to pull at or tie off in future conversations!