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Mapping Entanglement: Witnessing and Acting in our Built and Natural Environments

            When I began to formulate this fourth and final webevent, my intention was to continue searching for connections that could be formed between environmental health organizations and food justice groups. My plan was to think “group to group,” make official organizations talk to each other. But, then I began thinking about the individuals for who these organizations act and thinking about ways to connect individuals rather than exclusively the entities that seek to represent them. Kaye reminded me of Witnesses to Hunger, a project by Drexel Univiersity’s Center for Hunger-Free Communities.  Witnesses to Hunger began in Philadelphia in 2008 and asks women caring for young children who have experienced hunger and poverty, witnesses, to document their experiences. The project was created because “too often, policies and programs are created without the participation of the people who are most affected,” Witnesses to Hunger seeks to include the voices of those women who’s lives are directly affected by welfare related policies in the dialogue surrounding these issues. Here is a video from the project website:




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Planting Justice: Examining the Potential for Alliances between Urban Garden Groups and Other Environmental Health Organizations

           Recently, our class has been confronted with many theorists who urge us to recognize that we exist in relation to one another and that our concerns are closely tied to others. Farmer reminded us that we live in an “increasingly interconnected world” (Farmer, 158). Barad urged us to “experience life like electrons” and be aware of the ways our lives and concerns are entangled with those we share the world with (Barad). Finally, Butler suggested that it is time to “expand what we mean when we say ‘we’” and to foster alliances across groups that have been subjected to various levels of “precarity” (Butler, Flexner Lecture 2). I decided to investigate the potential for alliances to be formed between the food justice movement and broader environmental health movement in the San Francisco Bay Area. The research led me to Planting Justice, an Oakland, CA based organization that seeks to increase access to organic produce by installing organic gardens in community spaces and private homes. By using the work of Growing Justice as a model, this web-event will seek to suggest ways that community gardens and the organizations that support them can mobilize political action on local environmental health issues.

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Revisiting the Role of Science in Gen/Sex Studies

While perusing the New York Times website over break, I came across an article published this August titled “No Surprise for Bisexual Men – Report Indicates They Exist” (  I was immediately reminded of our discussion of the role of science in gen/sex studies and Barad’s request that we carefully consider not just the way we interpret scientific studies, but also the way we design them. The article summarizes a study conducted by Northwestern University in which researchers concluded that “at least some men who identify themselves as bisexual are, in fact, sexually aroused by both women and men.” A similar study was conducted at North Western in 2005 found that men who identified as bisexuals had arousal patterns similar to those of gay men, and declared “with respect to sexual arousal and attraction, it remains to be shown that male bisexuality exists.” The difference in the results between the 2005 and 2011 studies was likely caused by the use of “more stringent criteria” in determining who qualified as a bisexual man.

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Thoughts on Missed 11/21 Class

I really enjoyed the readings for last week’s class. While reading the excerpts of Paul Farmer’s Pathologies of Power, I was intrigued by his call to arms of sorts. He reminds us that we live in an “increasingly interconnected world” and implores us to “remember that what happens to poor people is never divorced from the actions of the powerful” (158). As I read this passage, I found myself thinking about the implications of such a union between “the poor” and “the powerful.”  I agree with Farmer’s suggestion that the economic and social structures that exist within countries and between them often institutionalize inequality, but I find myself feeling overwhelmed by the significance of this connection. As residents of a first world country and participants in its democracy and economy, what are our responsibilities to poverty stricken people of other nations and our own? How do we effectively target structures, instead of merely attempting to treat the symptoms caused by these structures? Farmer suggests that we begin by  “think[ing] locally and globally and act[ing] in response to both levels of analysis,” but somehow this left me feeling more overwhelmed… Farmer is wise to suggest that structures should be a principal target in the quest to eradicate poverty and the health inequities that accompany it. He implicates his readers in the preservation of such structures, but the excerpt ends just short of him suggesting tangible ways for us to help shift these structures.

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I think I caught Barad Fever...

I had my Barad "Aha!" moment in the beginning of class last week. It happened during our first Judith Butler litany and it took me by surprise. I have to admit, I was skeptical of Barad - I couldn't fathom what it might mean to experience the world like electrons do, and perhaps I don't understand the concept in the way Barad means it, but I've been feeling more electron-like by the minute...

Judith Butler's piece, "Violence, Mourning, and Politics" made me consider the ways in which each of us is both a particle and a wave (and that we are both at once, but the questions we ask - the way we look/measure - can change which "form" we focus on). Butler writes that, “one mourns when one accepts that by the loss one undergoes one will be changed” (21). This definition of mourning struck me as very “wave-like.” We bounce off each other, diffract through one another, imprint ourselves on each other in such a way that when we lose someone, the patterns will change. We are wave-like in that there is something of our presence that is not necessarily visible or finite - we change the world we live in and the people we live with. But there is also a way in which we are discrete – we have a physical presence, we are in a certain way tangible, borders can be drawn around us. I think most of the time, though, when we think about each other or ourselves we consider the wave and particle together – like electrons we are both at once.

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Reflections on Judith Butler

I thoroughly enjoyed Butler's talk tonight. It was also my first time in the Goodhart Auditorium, which is gorgeous! I think it will take me a little time to form some more complete thoughts, so for now here are some musings. I think my favorite moment of the evening was when Jane McAuliffe was mediating the questions and requested that speakers "identify themselves." While Butler emphasized that relaxing norms/categories/definitions is not the same as transcending them, it seemed somehow ironic to me that the moment the official lecture ended, we were confronted with the question of identity. During the lecture I also found myself reflecting on my own relationship with gender. Butler discussed the notion that our genders are "proclaimed" for us when we are born and suggested that perhaps this is not the best way to go. This made me wonder how individuals would gender themselves if it stopped being done for them. Clearly we all have a different way of 'being' in our gender - performing our gender per se. I personally feel that a large part of my identity is rooted in my gender - in woman/she/her, but its interesting to look back on the ways I have "performed" that woman-ness over the years -including the short haired, baggy clothes tomboy days of elementary school. While I've never really questioned my woman-ness, I agree with Butler's idea that there is a way in which we all wonder if we are "doing our gender" well enough.

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Gender and Sexuality in the High School Biology Classroom: Fostering Critical Thinking and Active Engagement

    Gender and Sexuality in the High School Biology Classroom:

Fostering Critical Thinking and Active Engagement


Summary: This project was undertaken with the hope of changing the ways we think about teaching and engaging with science. This paper will discuss ways to help students recognize that science is interdisciplinary and can both affect and be affected by the social and/or political context it exists in.  

By asking students to think about the way science is presented and conducted, and giving them the tools to think about science not as an isolated body of information, but as a dynamic and shifting discipline, we will not only be encouraging more engaged science scholarship, but will also help students begin to notice the ways science is used as evidence in different contexts and evaluate these uses.


The goals of this project are two-fold. I hope to suggest ways for biology teachers:

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The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling Reflections

I was glad to see that Anne had posted the Pseudoscience of Same-Sex Schooling study published in Science magazine. ( Though I am not a Bryn Mawr student, I did go to an all girl's middle school, and while reading "The He Hormone" I found myself reflecting on the experience. I think that there is a value in same-sex education that Pseudoscience overlooks. The study begins its argument by pointing out that the test scores of girls in a SS environment were much less impressive when one took into account their elevated performance prior to entering the school. While this may seem like a mildly interesting statistic, I felt that it missed the point of Same Sex education. I think that a lot of what SS institutions strive to address is less tangible (and perhaps less statistically testable) than test scores. Though I do remember middle school as feeling academically challenging, I think the real value of the experience came from being in an academic environment during those awkward and tumultuous middle-school years that allowed me to behave as a student without being concerned with the gender dynamics at play. I think McAuliffe alludes to this when she quotes the Bryn Mawr grad who said that "I could concentrate on learning instead of being the representative of a gender. Gender became irrelevant instead of being something that defined me." I have no way of knowing how I would be different as a student or a person had I not gone to an all girls middle school.

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Thoughts about "The He Hormone"

Like venn diagram, my interest was immediately captured by Andrew Sullivan’s “The He Hormone.” I appreciated the information on hormonal differences between males and females, but was frustrated at times by the ways Sullivan used these biological differences to explain differences in the social roles men and women take on. I understand that testosterone levels have an impact on many elements of our personality and behavior, such as an individual’s self-confidence and energy levels. However, using differences in testosterone levels to explain the fact that more men are in politics or powerful business positions than women do, negates the fact that important social factors are also at play.


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Claiming the Stare: Jes Sachse and the Transformative Potential of Seeing

                                 Claiming the Stare: Jes Sachse and the Transformative Potential of Seeing

                                       American Able - Holly Norris                     "Crooked" Tattoo


  We all love to look. While staring is most commonly thought of as an act to be avoided or ashamed of, Disability and Women’s Studies Scholar Rosemarie Garland-Thomson argues that the stare at its best actually has the potential to create new meanings and more open societies.  The stare as Thomson defines it, has the potential to help us redefine the language we use to describe each other and ourselves, create space for the often-excluded in communities, and craft our own identities. The stare is most dynamic and productive when the subject of the stare, the staree, is able to wield some control over the interaction and in doing so present their story to the starer.

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