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#MeToo and the Transnational Politics of Social Media Feminism

A Glasscock Center Three-Year Seminar (2019-2022)

Seminar Directors: Dr. Vanita Reddy (ENGL) and Dr. Chaitanya Lakkimsetti (SOCI)

#MeToo and the Transnational Politics of Social Media Feminism will convene interdisciplinary scholars, artists, and activists from within and outside TAMU to examine the limitations and possibilities of #MeToo as a transnational feminist movement for gender justice. Participants will examine the public uptake of the media hashtag across different national sites since it went viral in 2016. They will research and discuss the real-time impact of #MeToo on public policy, state elections, workplace relations, media institutions, youth cultures, university campuses, and other social movements, while also attending to the feminist of color/third-world feminist genealogies from which it emerged.

#MeToo is not a movement whose uptake outside the US simply replicates US-based models of gender justice. It is one that broadens the creative and political ways in which we think about violence, gender norms, patriarchies, and feminism. Thus, another primary objective of this seminar will be to expand and transform how we think about key concepts in gender justice.

We have three primary goals in mind:

First, the seminar will use the cultural momentum around #MeToo to forge a critical transnational feminist space on campus for directly addressing gender injustice. Given that TAMU currently lacks such a space, the three-year seminar is also poised to build an intentional feminist intellectual community that we hope will be critical to recruiting new students and faculty.

Second, we will publish an edited collection of essays or a special journal issue based on the research projects and symposia that will shape and emerge out of the seminar readings and discussions. We hope to include feminist research that is not only broadly interdisciplinary—spanning education, literature, sociology, communication, international relations, global studies, political science, neurology, and history—but also broadly geographic. We anticipate scholarship that specializes in gender justice in India, the US, Mexico, southern Africa, China, Germany, the UK, France, and Britain. We also hope to include examinations of the impact of social media on feminist and other social movements and of the nature of social media itself for effecting social and political change.

Third, we will create an open-access website that provides various academic actors the opportunity to testify about and bear witness to everyday acts of sexism in higher education, tentatively called “Everyday Sexism in Academia.” Recent high-profile news cases, such as sexual misconduct allegations against feminist and queer scholars Michael Kimmel (SUNY Stonybrook) and Avital Ronell (NYU), as well as the emergence of the Indian ‘#MeToo movement as a crowd-sourced list of sexual predators in Indian universities, suggest that academia must answer to these gender injustices. The website will be both an intellectual and material resource for cultivating gender and sexual literacies from across the disciplines, with special attention to those in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields and departments. As a public humanities project, the website will address the possibilities for feminist alliances across academic disciplines, which is currently lacking at most institutions.