WMST 425B – The Forgotten: Racialization, Gendered Violence and Sexual Labours

As part of the First Nations Studies Program and/or First Nations Languages mailing list (I can’t quite tell which one it is), I get access to The Post, a newsletter for Aboriginal news.

Latest news of particular interest to me is this unique new course in Term 2, on what I think is a very important issue:

WMST 425B—The Forgotten: Racialization, Gendered Violence and Sexual Labours

Instructor: Marie-Eve Carrier-Moisan

This course is a new seminar designed to coincide with the exhibit The Forgotten: Portraits of Missing Women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside by Vancouver artist Pamela Masik, at the Museum of Anthropology from February 11 to March 20, 2011. In the last 30 years, more than 69 women have gone missing or been murdered in the Downtown Eastside alone. The exhibit, which consists of large canvas paintings of these missing and murdered women, serves as a stark reminder of the powerful structures of invisibility and violence that are operating in our society and elsewhere. The Forgotten exhibit thus provides a starting point to critically reflect upon and make visible the broader social processes that are involved in producing the conditions for these disappearances and murders. It also brings to the fore controversial issues of voice, authorship and representation, and presents us with a unique opportunity to reflect on the role of art in fostering social changes as well as on issues of power and the politics of representation.

The exhibit also provides the possibility to examine broader issues of racialization, gendered violence, and sexual labour in Canada and beyond including sexual violence and (neo) colonization; legal and moral regulation affecting sex workers; hegemonic constructions of masculinity/femininity; processes of racialization in the sex trade (including sex tourism and pornography); and finally attempts to memorialize, remember and resist. Thus although our starting point is local, our path in this course will be global and leads us away from Vancouver and the Canadian context to various locations ranging from the Andes to South East Asia. In this process, we will explore similar injustices elsewhere in the world, including in the border city of Ciudad Juárez in Mexico, where there are an estimated 90 missing women facing similar patterns of violence and forgetting.

See, it’s courses like these that make me wish I had twice as much time as I do right now. I can’t take this course because I’ve already made a commitment to continue taking the language of the Musqueam people next term, and that class doesn’t end on the reserve until 6 pm—and since it’s my last full year in school, I don’t have another chance to take a First Nations language either, at least not in the foreseeable future.

And I haven’t even begun to tap into my ever-growing wishlist of Anthropology and Sociology courses…

Of course, after a certain point, you also realise that you can’t stay in one place soaking up knowledge forever. You want to apply it, or create something new of your own. At least, I do—I just don’t quite know what yet.

If you’re graduating soon, what do you wish you could have taken? Or, if you aren’t graduating yet, what other courses would you like to do if you have the time next term/year?

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