Professor Marguerite Waller (WMST and then-English)
became the Director with Assistant Professor Chatterjee
(WMST and then-Anthropology) as Assistant Director.
Margie and Piya envisioned the center as a site where
exciting feminist work-cutting across the borders of
theory, policy and practice could take place. They
imagined a place which would invite comparative and
transnational feminist perspectives which would also
engage the integral relationships between theory and
The first major project of CWIC was the international
conference on women, war and resistance called Frontline
Feminisms, co-organized by Margie, Piya and a team of
volunteers comprised of graduate and undergraduate
students. In January 1997, over 150 scholars and
activists from all over the world came to UCR to speak
about women’s struggles against militarization,
occupation and state violence. As the material we have
posted on the link on Conferences/Gatherings should make
clear, this was a remarkable event—with a roster of
distinguished speakers from the worlds of scholarship
The Center for Ideas and Society staff, especially Marie
Orillion-Harker and Marilyn Davis offered us invaluable
support. Many thanks to Professor Emory Elliott, the
Director of CIS, for offering the CIS as ally and
Marguerite Waller and Jennifer Rycenga (a participant)
went on to publish a well-regarded eponymously titled
edited volume which has been published by both Garland
Press and St. Martins/Palgrave.
We left the
Center for Social and Behavioural Sciences (where we had
a small office) and moved into the Department of Women’s
Studies. Professor Devra Weber (History) took over as
Director and Piya continued as Assistant Director.
Because of the rich debates from the conference, and our
own commitments to transnational linkages with women
from the global South, Devra and Piya floated the Rural
Women’s Empowerment Project. This was envisioned as a
research/action module within which rural women’s
politics in North and South could be brought into
conversation. Devra Weber has worked with rural women’s
organizations in Oaxaca, with Lideres Campesinas in
southern California, and has participated in some
exciting collaborations among Mixteca and Hmong women
working in the agricultural fields of the San Joaquin
Valley. This work, across the US-Mexico border, has
involved alliances with Mexican and Chicana feminist and
gender/race/class justice scholars and activists. Piya’s
work with rural tea plantation women in eastern India
“took off” in 1999.
The hope was that linkages between California campesinas,
Mexican rural-village women workers and Indian
plantation mahila mazdoor could be made through
innovative documentation (films), small conferences and
networks, and joint activities of solidarity. We viewed
this tri-lateral axes of connection between rural and
working class women in Mexico, the United States and
India as an exciting vision with tremendous
possibilities. Unfortunately, due to a lack of fiscal
(and time/energy!) support, this work continued in its
If anyone out there would like to re-activate these
connections, do contact us!
Devra relinquished her
position in 2000. Piya Chatterjee continued as Director
of CWIC. She invited Assistant Professor Amalia Cabezas
to be co-Director. Piya and Amalia tried to build on
some initiatives during this time but due to lack of
institutional support, these could not come to fruition.
Because of other outstanding obligations, Amalia left
the co-Directorship in 2001.
Dean Patricia O’Brien offered us generous
support with a one-time grant during this period. Piya
continued as Director and invited Assistant Professor
Tracy Fisher (WMST), Assisant Professor Manali Desai
(then-Sociology), and Assistant Professor Ellen Reese
(Sociology) to help constitute an advisory/governing
board. Tracy, Manali, Ellen and Piya met regularly with
a core group of students as one way to create a
“coalition” within the CWIC’s governance.
That is, the effort here was to involve women across the
university hierarchy, as partners in the process. Most
consistently, they included Elvia Ramirez (Sociology),
Erika Gutierrez (Sociology), Acela Ojeda (Sociology) and
Sheila Givens (Sociology/WMST). Equally significantly,
these students were instrumental in producing the
“manifesta” document that is included in this link.
Erika Gutierrez, a graduate student in Sociology,
coordinated CWIC activities during Piya’s absence (for a
sabbatical) and with then-Assistant Professor Ellen
Reese and other professor and students in Sociology
co-sponsored various talks on labor rights in the area.
In addition, all four of us (along with Margie Waller,
and later Amalia Cabezas) were involved with the Center
for Ideas and Society Ford/Cloning Grant (see Synergies
link) which furthered CWIC research projects on women,
poverty and globalization in critical ways.
Initiatives and Projects during this period included:
• Small Grants Competition. (February-September 2003.) CWIC supported feminist work by graduate students. Small
stipends to 10 grantees “seeded” work that was archival,
literary and community-based.
• Talks/Lectures. (Fall 2003 through 2004.) Topics of
lectures and talks included “Workers’ Rights and Health
Care in a Global Economy: Current Struggles in the
Inland Empire;” “The Struggle for Grocery Workers’ Rights
and Health Care: Why Has this Strike/Lockout Lasted So
Long?”; “Love Sees No Borders: Immigration and LGBT
People”; and Mixteca and Hmong farm workers, speakers
for International Day.” Many thanks to Erika Gutierrez,
Ellen Reese, Edna Bonacich, Julio Tsuha, Devra Weber,
Christina Marable and Nancy Jean Tubbs who were the
primary organizers of these talks.
• Film Series. (January to June 2003). CWIC screened
films on women, antiviolence, labor issues and so on.
These films created an important forum for the campus
and surrounding community and were shown monthly.
Senorita Extraviada and Dam/Age were our highlights!
• ACORN Health Insurance and TANF Collaborative Project.
(January through August 2003) Ellen Reese (Sociology)
and Amy Schurr (of ACORN, Los Angeles) worked on a
survey of members of ACORN’s Child Care Providers for
Action (CCPA) about their need for health insurance.
CCPA is a multi-racial organization of child care
providers in LA, led primarily by African-American and
Latinas. This survey documents the extent to which child
care providers in the LA area lack health insurance and
effects of this on their families. Another project
studies the impacts of 60 month-time limits for
receiving Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF). ACORN
staff, with Ellen Reese, will use CWIC funds to document
stories of the impact of time limits on their members.
Students from Ellen Reese’s class assisted in putting
this material together. Findings from this research will
be pooled with similar work being done by other
anti-poverty groups in the LA area into a larger report
which will be used to pressure state and county
officials to improve welfare-to-work programs.
• Womyn of Color Conference. (April 2003) Undergraduate
students involved with CWIC were organizers of the UC
system-wide Womyn of Color conference. Because “womyn of
color” organizing and presence is crucially important
for our university environment, the CWIC Board
unanimously voted to offer maximum support for the
conference. A (unpublished) text of the this conference
was also produced under the auspices of CWIC. Lead
organizers of this conference were Vianey Ramirez, Gabby
Ocon and Sunny Cho.
• Riverside Area Welfare Advocacy Network. (February
2002-September 2003). In conjunction with the LA County
ACORN project, CWIC Board members Ellen Reese and Acela
Ojeda “seeded” a welfare/advocacy/activist project in
Riverside. Acela Ojeda put together a booklet for
welfare recipients, and the homeless, in Riverside. The
booklet is a substantial document which is modeled after
the Los Angeles Coalition Against Homelessness “People’s
Guide.” The booklet was distributed in the area. Ellen
and Acela continued to search for more substantial
funding to create a welfare activist and advocacy center
• Women of Color Faculty Survey. (February
2003-Present). Because of continuing concern system-wide
about gender disparities in hiring and retention, CWIC
is designing an in-depth survey about historical, and
current, situation of women faculty—particularly women
of color faculty—on this campus. Because of a dearth of
statistics on this ways in which gender and
ethno-racial-national difference intersect around these
issues, we believe that this will be a timely document.
The survey will be based on qualitative and quantitative
protocols. It will be sued as a policy instrument for
not only the local administration but will also
supplement research and organizing around this issue.
Piya Chatterjee and Elvia Ramirez (Ph.D, Sociology) are
currently working on this project. Please contact us if
you are interested in helping us with this.
Because funding ran out, and principal faculty members
became involved in other research-oriented work (through
the CIS- Ford/ Cloning Grant), or left the university,
CWIC became a bit quieter. Piya Chatterjee continued as
• SALTY: A Feminist/Antiracist Zine. (2004-05/6) In
order to create a more visible space for feminist work
on this campus, we were also interested in spearheading
a feminist media project. The aim was to create a
permanent “broadsheet/journal/newspaper” which
highlights progressive feminist writing in the
community. To do this Desiree Letoi Brown, Piya
Chatterjee, Sheila Givens, Jackie Newton, Natalie Newton
and Christine Petit joined forces to bring out a
grassroots, “zine” (see http://www.grrrlzines.net/) ,
SALTY. Our first, and only, issue was produced in Spring
2005. Again, because of a resource crunch, we could not
continue this effort—but hopefully, if there is
interest, we can forge ahead. Please contact us if you
are interested in producing SALTY again.
• Advisory Board for 2006-2007. A new Board was
constituted. Professors Alicia Arrizόn (Chair, WMST),
Lan Duong (WMST), Tracy Fisher (WMST), Priya Srinivasan
(Dance), Chikako Takeshita(WMST) and Sheila Givens
(Graduate Student, Sociology).
• Funding and New Initiatives. Dean Steve Cullenberg
offered us seed-funding for 2006-2007 and we have been
able to stretch this into new initiatives that are now
on the table. These include:
◘ Feminist Re/Visions: Alternative Theatre and Visual
Projects. Professor Lan Duong (FVC and WMST)
will spearhead this initiative with colleagues working
on gender, nation, race and sexuality in visual
◘ Across Other Borders: Humanists, Social Scientists and
Scientists on Gender, Science and Medicine. Professor
Chikako Takeshita (WMST) will spearhead this initiative
which will bring interdisciplinary scholars interested
in feminist perspectives, and gender issues, within
science and medicine. Given the recent establishment of
UCR’s School of Medicine, we are hopeful that this could
grow into something substantial.
• Publication Projects. (2005 to the Present). Working
with support provided by the Center for Ideas
Ford/Cloning project, former and current Board members
have worked on two book projects that will appear in end
2007, early 2008.
◘The Wages of Empire: Neoliberal Policies, Armed
Repression, and Women’s Poverty. Co-edited by Amalia
Cabezas (WMST); Ellen Reese (Sociology) and Marguerite
Waller (WMST and Comparative Literature). Forthcoming
from Paradigm Publishers. See the Publication Link for
◘States of Trauma: Gender and Violence In South Asia.
Co-edited by Piya Chatterjee (WMST); Manali Desai
(formerly UCR-Sociology, now of University of
Kent-Canterbury) and Parama Roy (English, UC-Davis).
Forthcoming from Zubaan/Kali for Women, New Delhi. See
the Publication Link for further Details.
• Mentoring Spaces. Because of a dearth of consistent
mentoring of junior women faculty on campus, CWIC
sponsored a successful mentoring initiative which met
every fortnight through 2006-2007 academic year.
Childcare and family issues, the publication process,
departmental politics and strategies were among the
issues discussed. CWIC would like to extend its
gratitude to Kris King and Renee Deguire of WMST for all
the help they extended in scheduling and advertising
Mentoring Spaces. Tammy Ho (WMST) and Piya Chatterjee (WMST/CWIC)
spearheaded this initiative. An informative website has
been set up on ilearn. Colleagues from other campuses
have also joined this website to have access to this
important information. If you are interested in being
on-board, please do contact us.
• WMST/CWIC Brown Bag Series. Informal Brown Bag Talks
were scheduled through 2006-2007. The main goal of these
talks was to introduce the university community to
feminist “work-in-process.” We organized over 14 such
talks through the year. Many thanks to Kris King and
Renee Deguire of WMST for expediting all aspects of
• A New Office! Professor Emory Elliott (Director) and
Laura Lozon (Assistant Director) of the Center for Ideas
and Society continued to extend their support and
alliance to us. We were offered an office in an unused
section of the CIS. Though we understand that the
building will be soon demolished, we are grateful we
could set up there. Student interns began work—and well,
there is nothing like space! We are deeply grateful to
Greg Givens, Board Member Sheila Given’s partner who
labored on putting up posters, moving furniture and
making this an inviting place for us to work.
• Student Interns/Energies. Five student interns offered
their good faith and energies to CWIC in really
important ways. Jessica Yamane helped go through boxes
of material to set up a filing system—in hours and hours
of thankless work! Thao Le began work on The Mom Project
which sought to find ways of assisting low-income
student-mothers. Isabel Aguilar helped with
administrative stuff. Paullette Flores and Janeth Pineda
tried to jumpstart SALTY. Anik Dhonobad to all.