“All-Women Coding Boot Camps: Creating a Geek Sisterhood among Engineers in Silicon Valley?” France Winddance Twine

In 2018, according to an industry survey, there were 108 coding boot camps operating in 44 US States and 4 provinces in Canada. This emerging for-profit educational market was born in 2012. San Francisco was one of the first cities to see the emergence of accelerated engineering academies, also known as coding boot camps. These academies provide an immersive, skills-based curriculum that provides technical skills. A Pew Research Center published a report that found in 2016, there were 17.3 million workers over the age of 25 years employed in STEM field occupations. This report also confirmed that engineering is the most male-dominated profession in computing with the lowest share of women, who comprise only 14% of the workers. Drawing upon a 4 year qualitative study and 100 interviews with women and men employed at technology firms in Silicon Valley, Twine discusses the role of an all-women coding boot camp as a niche in this market. During the past 6 years, an all-women coding boot camp in the Bay Area has produced a new cohort of engineers – women without a background in STEM fields. This “geek sisterhood’ – represents a non-traditional  cohort of women engineers with backgrounds in the arts, humanities and social sciences.  Challenging the conventional narratives about the ‘pipeline’ problem, Twine will argue that coding boot camps are providing a non-traditional pathway for university-educated women who can use this post-graduate certificate and the social networks that accompany it to change careers after earning a degree in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

“Learning to Care! Feminism, Fukushima and Environmental Humanities” by Dr. Margherita Long

What can we learn from the activists, novelists, and documentary filmmakers who responded to the triple-meltdowns of March 2011? How do they inspire us to think and act amidst our own climate crises? This talk takes as its starting point a remark from a Japanese cabinet minister from 2011. “We thought that human beings—the Japanese—can control nuclear by our intelligence, by our reason. With this one accident, will that philosophy be discarded? I don’t think so.” With his astute observation, the cabinet minister exposes the logic of the Anthropocene more broadly. We humans think we exist separately from the material world, and that we control it. In this talk, I introduce five women whose post-Fukushima art and activism teaches us to think differently. Rather than “lean in” at the workplace and leave the drudgery of caring for nuclear-exposed families and environments to others, they make care-work the site of intellectual engagement, studying children’s urine, irradiated crops, abandoned cattle, un-evacuated high school students, and, most of all, their own fragile mental health. Instead of controlling nature with their reason, they let the damaged planet guide their creativity, working in tandem with toxicity to create new ideas and new ways of staying sane.

Ungrateful Citizenship at the End(s) of the World(s) by Marcia Ochoa

How many times has the world come to an end? Modernity as a process in the Américas has consumed millions of bodies: death by violence, disease, starvation, incarceration – Western forms of ritual killing. For how many of these lives was it the end of the world? The last speaker of a language or holder of a way of life? The last of a clan or kin group? How many were witnesses to a cataclysmic violence never before conceivable? How many died abandoning all possibility of a future for their kind? In my research on trans Latina survival, I have meditated on a 1513 incident in what we now call Panamá. In that year, in a place called Quarequa, Vasco Núñez de Balboa set his dogs on a group of people he deemed to have been committing pecado nefando contra natura – the nefarious sin against nature. That day the world came to an end. These end(s) of the world(s) punctuate an account of the Américas that recognizes the violences that have created us. Quarequa, the Middle Passage, the Ghost Dance and many other moments tell us something about who we are now and the ghosts we live with. These ritualized acts of violence reverberate in the contemporary forms of death through which the state governs, making some bodies targets. In this deadly context, I explore an approach to citizenship – forms of participation, recognition, and belonging – that is born in the strategies of survival used by people most targeted. Transgender Latinas (translatinas) articulate their own responses to power in their lives through what I call “ungrateful citizenship,” a stance with respect to violence and social exclusion that rejects normalization and creates safety. This talk will jump between moments in the histories of the end(s) of the world(s) in the Américas and contemporary strategies for translatina struggle and politics.

“The Promise of Beauty at the End of the World” by Mimi Thi Nguyen

The Promise of Beauty analyzes affective and aesthetic responses to scarcity, precarity, and uncertainty, drawn from crises of war and dispossession, in order to understand the promise of beauty as a world-building engagement. From the seizure of indigenous lands for the preservation of “natural” beauty, to the staging of a beauty pageant for landmine survivors, I consider distinct personal, social, and political projects that unfold through disputes about the beauty we deserve – which is to say, the life worth living. In doing so, I hope to show how and why the promise of beauty is so usable across a spectrum of political claims, whether imperial or insurgent, and how do these claims delineate what forms of life are valuable, and for whom. These claims might invoke walls, roses, mountains, and lovers, but they can also take unfamiliar turns. Consider the mantra of John Waters’ film Female Trouble, “crime is beauty,” through which lawfulness under a dehumanizing regime is not an option. It is in the impossibility of defining beauty that the promise of beauty can emerge as a political condition of possibility at the end of the world.

“Migrants and Militants: Demographic Fears and Fantasies of Right-Wing Politics” by Banu GökarıkselChristopher Neubert, and Sara Smith

A caravan of Central American refugees cast as “rapists” and “stone cold criminals” (in the US), plans to create a security zone along the Syria-Turkey border by bombing Kurdish areas and make space for the relocation Syrian refugees in Turkey, the removal of protections for Kashmir’s autonomy leads to fantasies of Kashmiri women now available to Hindu men across India. There are striking resonances across countries where there has been a rise of the right-wing populist politics. The strongmen leaders and their allies in these countries continue to stoke fears about those racialized Others (whether racial/ethnic minorities or migrants) and to propose “solutions” to perceived problems by re-engineering the population. We continue the argument for the need for feminist engagement with political narratives about population change and point to the important work that fantastical stories focused on demographically based fears and proposed interventions have done for the recent rise of right-wing politics in the United States, India, and Turkey. These “demographic fever dreams” reveal a simultaneous obsession with demography and detachment from demographic data. Gendered tropes are central to the demographic narratives of vulnerability, fear, and threat and therefore necessitate feminist perspectives. Attending to the discursive constitution of demographic fever dreams in media and by political leaders in each context, we examine how they effectively invoke populist fears and identify which bodies become threatening and which ones need protection. We also extend our analysis to proposed right-wing interventions to shift demographics to achieve the desired “security” of an imagined authentic nation under threat. We explore how elements of fantasy are central to the shoring up of majoritarian masculinity and national fictions, and how these fantastical elements are essential to the production of national space.