Culture and Engagement

This conference will uphold and maintain the tenets of a respectful and safe space for all participants. There is a zero-tolerance policy for any bigoted speech, whether orally, in video, or in chat or other text features. Organizers reserve the right to remove you from the conference if your conduct contravenes this policy. We are not here for any action or speech that proposes or enacts domination, asymmetrical forms of power, and/or erases, ignores, or harms existence. 

We welcome participant feedback in creating safe spaces and in producing equitable and impactful knowledge exchange and construction. We hope for meaningful dialogue, provocative questions, and constructive criticism. We ask participants engaging with others’ work to ask themselves what they can add to someone’s research. We ask that you look for the value in the creations you are engaging with rather than exclusively seeking to take them to task.  

In other words, be open to being called in and called out. 

Furthermore, we recognize that some topics may be triggering to folks, particularly those related to sexual violence. To that end, we will provide peer support, which will be available throughout the conference if you need to debrief, be heard and believed, or require grounding exercises. Our peer supporter has training in supportive listening and over two years of providing this care work. Support will be available via a Discord channel and you can choose to either text and chat, video chat, or voice call. We value your confidentiality and the conversations will not be saved or recorded. However, there are some circumstances in which we may have to break this confidentiality. Under Alberta’s laws, knowledge of a person under 18 years being harmed must be reported. We will drop the Discord link throughout conference proceedings. 

P.S. Some participants may choose to present anonymously for safety reasons. In that vein, no sessions will be recorded. We will have the option of presenters posting their papers or creative works in an online resource centre for future reference. 


On Radicalism: When Uncompromising Futurities Become an Injury to Justice

Rinaldo Walcott (2018) calls it a “politics of thought.” Sara Ahmed (2018) uses the metaphor of “rocking the boat.” Kalpana Wilson (2015) proposes it as a “transnational solidarity.” Arvin et al (2013) tell us it is a “radical and necessary [move] toward decolonization [by] imagining and enacting a future for Indigenous peoples.” Black and Indigenous mobilization has, for decades, been using the language of radicalism to point the way to alternate, reimagined understandings of futurities. But, much like Walcott proposes the “at once invisible and hypervisible[ness]” of Blackness, calls to radicalism are often hypervisible to justice workers and scholars - seen as “too much” - whereas the pleas and urgency behind these calls are silenced, invisible. Radical thought and action is thus sidelined in justice projects, be it academia, non-profit, or policy making efforts, as an unrealistic, unhelpful process. All forms of protest, of resistance, are seen as grandiose, as over-the-top events, not just by mainstream neoliberal powers and supporters, but also by those in justice projects who continue to promote “working within the system” as a pure apparatus of resistance instead of just a counteraction. Leftist protests are condemned for not reflecting “traditional” Canadian ideals of “peaceful”disagreement–for being too loud, too angry, too not white (although, right wing protests are not held to the same standards). 

Audre Lorde’s “master's tools” of course come to mind (and we are ever grateful to her scholarship) but, even more than the how that Lorde asks us to grapple with, we wonder about the what. What is the model of a society unimpeded by the machinations and mercilessness of the white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy? What about a model completely structured around the voices, ideas, and leadership of Black and Indigenous women and Two Spirit folks, in other words LandBack? What does Turtle Island look like when we divest not just from colonial ownership but colonial mentalities? What are the questions we need to ask to develop these ideas? 

It is through the radicalness of the imaginary that we can conceive of the radicalness of action. We get to the how by imagining the what. Abolition is only excessive if there is no plan for reimagining, rebuilding, and reconnecting. As Mariame Kaba (2021) tells us “None of us has all of the answers, or we would have ended oppression already. But if we keep building the world we want, trying new things, and learning from our mistakes, new possibilities emerge.” 

Of particular importance is the language we use to guide our revolution. Many of us are guilty of using the lexicon of the colonizer to describe our politics of thought: we ask to burn it all down, destroy it, dismantle it, raze it, fuck it, and wish it death. But there is no heart, no care in emulating traditional power structures; as Otegha K. Uwagba points out, we’re not out for revenge. We’re out for justice. And being radical, being uncompromising in our imagined futurities, is not an injury to that justice. 

Who We Love

We are thankful to our professors in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department for their knowledge, their support, and their continuous faith in our cohort. Thank you to Intersections of Gender who helped to make this conference possible. We would like to thank all of the folks who have come before us and all of the folks currently doing radical work in academia and praxis, especially Indigneous and Black women and 2SLGBTQ+ folks. Without them, we wouldn’t even be able to dream of a radical future where we all have what we need. We recognize that it is through their commitment to community and movement building that we are here today, dreaming of a different world. 

Additionally, we would also like to thank all of our supporters, collaborators, presenters, artists, activists, and everyone working towards a radical imaginary. In particular, we thank Lana Whiskeyjack, Lise Gotell, Michelle Meagher, Chloë Taylor, Jumoke Verissimo, Tara Kappo, Shima Robinson, FLAT!2D Motion Studio, Sandra Gosling, Black Women United YEG, Free Lands, Free Peoples, CHEW Project YEG, Muslim Feminist Collective of YEG, and the organizing committee for the conference. We are honoured to learn, to share, to grow, and to be in community with all of you. Special thanks to Andrea Alvarez for troubleshooting everyone's tech questions and issues–of which there were probably too many to count. 

Yours in Solidarity, 
The 2022 GSJ Graduate Conference Organizing Committee