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Interrogating Self-Care: Bodies, Personhood, & Movements in Tumultuous Times


Interrogating Self-Care: Bodies, Personhood, & Movements in Tumultuous Times

Keynote speaker: Soraya Chemaly, Author of Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger (2018)

The graduate students from nine universities of the Boston-area Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality present a biannual interdisciplinary conference entitled Interrogating Self-Care: Bodies, Personhood, & Movements in Tumultuous Times to be held at MIT on March 29 & March 30, 2019.

In her 1988 book A Burst of Light, Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” The concept of self-care, which arose through the activist practices specifically of marginalized groups, has been increasingly adopted and discussed by health care settings, non-profit organizations, commercial and marketing enterprises, and psychological approaches. National discourse around self-care has increased exponentially since the 2016 presidential election. Yet, few academics have explored the theory, implementation, and impacts of this concept. While many advocate for cultures and movements where we can embrace Lorde’s philosophy as a radical act, others contend it has been co-opted through commodification, cultural appropriation, and self-indulgence. 

This conference seeks to explore:

  •  How can the practice of self-care benefit or hinder activism for social justice and/or life in the academy?

  • What is the place of community-based care?

  • What are the different modes of identity or power that allow an individual to have access to self-care?

  • What are the social or cultural politics of self-care?

  • How do questions of race and racism, disability, and gender impact the politics of self-care?

We welcome proposals for papers and/or projects (i.e. paintings, sculptures, film, performances, poetry/literature, songs) from graduate students of all disciplines that explore issues of marginality, repression, the conflict between self and society, and resistance through the lenses of gender and/or sexuality.