Dear Friends and Affiliates of the Feminist Research Institute:
I am writing to introduce myself as the new Director of the Feminist Research Institute, a three-year appointment beginning this fall. Before all else, I would like to thank Dr. Anita Obermeier for her ten years of outstanding service as FRI Director, through which the Institute has become an even stronger voice for feminist research at UNM. We will sorely miss her energetic and intelligent leadership, even as we continue to rely on her experience: we know where to find her, in Humanities, where she will be serving as Chair of the English Department. There, too, we can find Justin Larsen, who has served the FRI well as Graduate Assistant for the last two years. The dedicated work of Dr. Obermeier and Justin Larsen has left the FRI in excellent standing, and we are grateful to them for their assistance with the transition to new leadership.
By way of introduction: an historian of Latin America employed at UNM since 1998, my work focuses on the history of gender and sexuality, labor relations, and political movements in modern Latin America. My work as a feminist historian builds on training in two interdisciplinary fields – Latin American Studies and the Comparative Study of Religion – which continue to shape approach to teaching and research at UNM. In the dissertation and my post-graduate career I have focused my attention on working-class women’s role in Chile’s economic development, labor movements, and politics over the course of the twentieth century. Motivated by the marginal spaces occupied in the Chilean academy by women’s and gender history, I worked with two young Chilean historians and another US doctoral student to co-edit Chile’s first volume of gender history. I am currently completing a book manuscript on Chilean domestic service, co-authoring two research articles with Argentine and Chilean colleagues, and beginning work on my next project, a study of gender and human rights movements in Cold War Southern Cone countries. My tenure as FRI Director will be informed by my ongoing engagement with (and enthusiasm for) these interdisciplinary and international feminist scholarly communities.
I am fortunate to take the helm of the Feminist Research Institute at such a high point, when the Institute enjoys robust participation of faculty and graduate students both within the College of Arts & Sciences and extending to the College of Fine Arts, the School of Medicine, and the Anderson School. My vision for the FRI over the next three years builds on that foundation and involves, quite literally, crossing Lomas Boulevard to pursue a multi-year initiative on the subject of "Gender, Health, and Rights." In the present global climate of deepening challenges to gender equality and women’s health, this project will builds on existing faculty and institutional resources and give greater visibility and broader relevance to UNM’s Feminist Research Institute, both on campus and in national circles. In addition to carrying out the FRI’s ongoing support to faculty and graduate students across the campus, as Director I will work with the FRI Board to increase the Institute’s association with faculty in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Law, and work with constituencies in Women Studies to plan collaborative activities on women’s health and rights. These activities – which over three years will include a lecture series, a two-day on-campus symposium, and a regional conference – will in the first year bring together faculty and students engaged in research on women’s health and rights in the humanities, social sciences, medicine, and law. In my second year as FRI Director, I plan to work with feminist and women’s studies centers at our regional peer institutions (University of Arizona, UCLA, UT Austin) to organize a conference on women’s health and rights.
Lest I seem to employ the royal "we" in this letter(!), I hasten to introduce another new face at the Feminist Research Institute, that of the incoming Graduate Assistant Dr. Mirella Vaglio. Hailing originally from Lecce, Italy, Dr. Vaglio has recently joined the graduate program at UNM in order to pursue her second PhD, this one in Medieval and Early Modern History. Having completed her M. Phil. in Philosophy at the University of Lecce, and a Doctorate in Political Theory at the University of Wales, Dr. Vaglio also brings to the FRI position a long record of feminist activism, university teaching, high school administration, and professional counselling. Though new to UNM, Dr. Vaglio offers great experience and enthusiasm to the GA position at the Institute, including some great ideas for events in the year ahead.
I would like to invite all FRI friends and affiliates to keep an eye on the FRI listserv in the coming months, where we’ll announce the fall welcome back reception and the usual roster of feminist talks and research/event funding announcements. In the coming year, we will also engage the FRI Board in planning a major spring event to celebrate the Institute’s twentieth anniversary. Please, feel free to contact myself or Dr. Vaglio with any and all comments, concerns, and/or questions you may have about the work of the Feminist Research Institute as we move forward. We welcome your input and participation!
Dr. Elizabeth Quay Hutchison
Professor, Latin American History
Incoming Director, Feminist Research Institute