Last Thursday, October 30, the annual Women’s Studies Brown Bag Series: Inverting the Narrative – Gender and Development was held in the Center for Women’s Studies Lounge East Hall. This Brown Bag consisted of project presentations from the 16 members of Lecturer Hayley Cavino’s 300-level Gender and Development class. Cavino’s class focuses on taking online images, advertisements or pictures that express a typical or problematic perspective on gender, education or international development and then adding words, symbols or images that invert the narratives.
The students were also asked to prepare a short artist’s statement to explain their work. The students were split into six different groups earlier in the semester and began researching images online that perpetuated problematic gender or educational stereotypes. The class then had poster-making sessions in the library with Associate Professor in the University Libraries Debbie Krahmer and Instructional Technologist Ahmad Khazaee, helped explain how to convey the points the class wanted to make while actually making the original image into a poster that made a point. The class then spent one class period group-editing rough drafts of their peers’ posters before giving tips on how to make each groups’ message even stronger.
“I was impressed by the work produced by the students in ED 303 this year, many of them weaving through their analyses an explicit anti-capitalist transnational feminist critique which is oftentimes marginalized in dominant development discourses,” Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Studies Anna Rios-Rojas said.
Cavino, who is visiting from Syracuse University, is teaching the course that Rios-Rojas usually teaches, with the class still following Rios-Rojas’s curriculum. The students were very pleased that Rios-Rojas was in attendance at the presentations and enjoyed the feedback that she gave.
Rios-Rojas was not the only one who was impressed by the presentations.
“After attending this brown bag I realized the consequences that emerge from the western frame of superiority as imposed upon the real lives of those people who must learn to navigate it,” sophomore Abigail Balfour said.
“I think all the projects were well done and challenged our views of what is ‘normal’ and ‘right.’ They all raised the issue that the west has a superiority complex and I found myself realizing that I have played into this various times in my life, even though it was unintentional,” sophomore Kate Faxon said.
In addition to the audience members, the students enrolled in the class also learned from the presentations.
“I loved doing the project because it made me think of how we as more ‘developed’ countries always feel the need to ‘help’ those less fortunate than us without taking into consideration that this aid is not what’s best,” junior and student in the Gender and Development class Dahiana Acosta said.
The question-and-answer section after the presentations was an expansion of all the topics covered in the poster projects. The discussion revolved around Western ideals and education in relation to aiding ‘Third World’ countries. Furthermore, the ideals were looked at on a more local scale, addressing how these ideals relate to the power hierarchies of Colgate and the surrounding Hamilton area.
“It was great having the chance to expand our class discussion into a larger group like the Brown Bag session because everyone who asked a question or made a comment brought another perspective to the conversation,” senior and student in the Gender and Development class Amanda Brown said.