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Your faculty and staff news since 1965
August 16, 2004
Volume 40, Number 1

Feminist Research Institute fosters diverse research
Russian scholar to direct projects

By Laurie Mellas Ramirez

KolchevskaUNM Professor of Russian Natasha Kolchevska, an expert in Russian women writers, is the Feminist Research Institute’s new director.

Created in 1996 with the goal of fostering a community of feminist scholars, the UNM institute now boasts more than 50 affiliated faculty across campus. Emerging scholarship on women and gender is interdisciplinary, diverse and contemporary.

“I hope to continue the sponsored graduate student work and colloquia,”   Kolchevska said. “The FRI is closely linked with Women Studies, serving primarily undergraduates. We are more faculty and graduate student oriented. We have a demonstrated impact on feminist and gender studies on campus.”

Research topics include globalization, violence, cultural heritage, criminal justice, motherhood, child abuse, human rights and terrorism. Faculty and graduate students are eligible to apply for FRI research grants, designed to be seed money for the support of new projects.

Kolchevska, who will serve a two-year term succeeding Beth Bailey of American Studies, has been on the institute’s board since 2001. A scholar of modern Soviet and Russian literature, she is the leading Western authority on Evgeniia Ginzburg, the best known woman’s writer from the Soviet Gulag.

She recently authored “The Art of Memory: Cultural Reverence as Political Critique in Evgeniia Ginzburg’s Writing of the Gulag,” in The Russian Memoir: History and Literature, B. Holmgren, ed. (Evanston, IL:  Northwestern UP, 2003).

Kolchevska’s interest in Ginzburg and the Gulag, the Soviet system of forced labor camps first established in 1919 and continuing into the President Gorbachev period, goes hand in hand with her concern about women and political violence.

She plans to organize a gender and politics forum to promote interest in the general election. Longer term, she envisions a research conference focused on the rubric of women and terrorism and the impact of political violence on women.

“Violence affects women in so many ways. It begins in the home and expands; it’s part of global terror. Violence is such a multidimensional topic. It provides rich possibilities for interdisciplinary discussion and projects,” Kolchevska said.

About six faculty research grants were awarded last year. Faculty in anthropology, Spanish, education, history and American studies with interests as broad as Chile, Germany and the Middle East were among those who applied. Alex Lubin was awarded a $1,200 travel grant for his proposal “The Politics of Race and Marriage on the Israel/Palestine Border.”

Lubin returned in early August from Birzeit University in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Palestine. He was invited to give a talk on the history of antimiscegenation laws in the U.S. and to discuss possibilities for intellectual exchanges between UNM and Birzeit.

Kolchevska said, “I would like the FRI to become more of a clearinghouse for faculty and graduate students involved in research on feminism, gender and sexuality, to make us more of a locus for conversation where different voices can come together to discuss these issues. The FRI can take both a scholarly and activist role.”

The FRI responded to Provost Brian Foster’s recent call for strategic cluster proposals, she said. The psychology of women, women’s education and health, women’s social and economic services, the sociology of sex and gender, and feminist scholarship would make up its focus.

Kolchevska wrote, “Issues involving women, children and families are of enormous legal, policy-making and financial interest to local and state agencies.”