I would like to see a name change to Canadian Gender Studies Association, or Canadian Gender and Feminist Studies Association.
Graduate Program in Critical Disability Studies
I think for some programs in Canada that are still called "Women's Studies", it is important to still hold onto that name for historical and political purposes. Yes, some may argue that women are included in gender; however, I think it is necessary to still include it in the name, so we don't erase its history and political importance in the academy. I know this has been a worry for some individuals (when programs have switched from Women's Studies to Gender Studies) and it would be ideal to include both women and gender in the name to satisfy a variety of individuals.
That being said, I also feel it will be impossible to include every area of study in our name without it being too long. I would like to propose the following:
Canadian Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Association
Women's Studies and Feminist Research
The University of Western Ontario
I appreciate Rachel and Geoff's comments and their willingness to take up this important discussion. I wonder if the names of our own programmes and departments might be a different matter than the name of our professional association. There is significant variety in terms of what we call ourselves (as programmes and departments), some of it based in history, in politics, and also in institutionally specific circumstances that are vastly different. Is it desirable, or even possible, to have a name for our professional association that encompasses all of these differences? Is there something that we could affiliate ourselves with on the basis of our association with each other, but not necessarily our diverse histories, politics and institutional circumstances?
At SFU we have gone the inclusive direction, renaming our Department Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies, and banking on the fact that the last phrase signalled important historical continuity. We did so in part because of the perception from students that this was more representative of the diversity in the field. Katherine raises a good point. It is very hard to encompass all these differences, but incorporation of masculinity studies within the gender rubric and and queer studies under the rubric of sexuality we felt was very necessary. Arguably, exclusion of the term feminism is odd in a Department with a history like ours, but it is because we believe feminist theory cross cuts all of it, of course. I would endorse the name change of the Association. CWSA may end up wanting to do some kind of a referendum on the final choice. It is crucial, of course, that the name both recognise the work actually done in the journal and by its members, but remain at a sufficiently high level of generality to be as cutting edge and inclusive as possible.
I would agree that we need to change the name to ensure the association is reflective of the changes in the field. I would support a formulation that includes Gender and Women as I think this provides the broadest net. I wonder if we include sexuality, why we wouldn't then also include race, class etc. So my vote would be for the shorter title which includes the history of the field and the current theoretical framework of the discipline.
Women's and Gender Studies
Margot's comments reflect my own,
Coordinator Women and Gender Studies Program
University of Toronto Mississauga
I have to ask if this name change is going to follow an informal or individualized review of how the field is altering in relationship to past and current groundings and the potential for new ones.
In reviewing and participating in what is possible in the field, I
consider that 'equity' as possibilities and strengths and rights are a large facet of what the field does well within its current 'named' concerns and possible extended ones.
I believe that Women's Studies is an important field with a rich history. Allowing an erosion in the centrality of women in the ONE and ONLY place that women's lives from their OWN perspective matters, would be a grave error for the national association. Little by little spaces that celebrate women and women's studies are being lost in the name of 'inclusivity'. In maintaining space for the study of women's lives from intersectional and feminist perspectives is not a breach of inclusivity.
The world is constantly changing; so do concepts, issues, and complex challenges in human lives. I agree with those who proclaim that retaining WOMEN'S STUDIES as the core or foundational basis of the association does not violate inclusivity. Name changes or branding for political and financial compromise in various universities is separate from the aims of the association. With the rise of conservatism in Canada, it's all the more imperative to retain Canadian Women's Studies Association.
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