Briefly, in two to three sentences, summarize your current research.
My research focuses on transnational histories of women, gender, sexuality, and social movements in the twentieth-century Americas. My current project reveals how a network of Pan-American feminists pioneered international women’s rights, originating the idea that “women’s rights are human rights.” Drawing on socialist and liberal feminist traditions and opposing U.S. hegemony, they advocated a broad notion of international women’s rights, championing not only political and civil equality, but also social and economic justice and international multi-lateralism.
What areas do you feel occupy the borders of your discipline? What lies just beyond those limits? How does considering those divisions impact your research practice?
My training in U.S. history came at a time when the “transnational turn” had already started expanding the literal and figurative borders of academic history. I benefitted from pioneering work in the “new transnational history” that challenged hermetic histories of the nation state, historicized the nation state, emphasized cross-border interactions, and underscored the significance of non-state actors on the international stage. These works emboldened me to pursue my own transnational project. I found that when I expanded the “borders” of my research – exploring feminists’ archives in Cuba, Uruguay, Panama, as well as in the U.S. – the questions I asked changed. The interesting questions became how activism and ideas – especially notions of rights and feminism – changed as they flowed across national, ideological, and cultural borders, and how U.S. empire shaped these flows. In the process, I began to chart a previously neglected influence of Latin American activism to U.S. and international feminist organization and thought.
Where do you position your own research in relation to others within your discipline? Do you see these lines of demarcation at times becoming blurred?
I enjoy having a home in two disciplines with relatively flexible “borders”: history and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. While my methods are rooted in primary source research and analysis, I draw from feminist theory and from other disciplines unrelated to history. The discipline matters less to me than the questions being asked. I read scholars from various disciplines – philosophy, the law, sociology, anthropology, art history, among others – who are engaging with questions that overlap with mine about the dynamics of feminism, internationalism, social movements, empire, multi-lateralism, and theories of women’s rights and international law.
What research topics are you interested in exploring when you’re not doing work-related research?
Lately I’ve been very interested in the new surge of social media and student activism around sexual assault. Over the past year and a half, college students and feminist lawyers have galvanized changes in (and debates about) how colleges address sexual assault, championing the use of Title IX. More broadly, activists have turned to twitter and social media to speak out about a justice system that fails survivors of sexual assault and a culture that ignores or blames them. I recently organized a panel at OSU “Responding to Gendered Violence on Campuses, Society, and in the Law” with Professor Anita Hill. I am eager to explore how we, as a campus and community, can prioritize and respond to diverse experiences of gendered violence and demand justice for survivors.