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The Traffic in Policy: Religion, Sexuality, and the State

A symposium co-organized by NYU’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance & Politics
and Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality
with funding by The Henry Luce Foundation

April 30, Friday
10 AM to 6 PM

Keynote lecture by Roberto J. Blancarte (Center of Sociological Studies, El Colegio de México).

Other confirmed participants include: Faye Ginsburg (Anthropology, NYU), Marcial Godoy-Anativia (Hemispheric Institute, NYU), Carol Mason (English, Oklahoma State University), María Consuelo Mejía (Catholics for the Right to Decide), Ann Pellegrini (Religious Studies and Performance Studies, NYU), Diana Taylor (Performance Studies, NYU) Juan Marco Vaggione (National University of Córdoba/CONICET), and David Harrington Watt (History, Temple University).

Click here for PDF of full program.

This one-day symposium explores the “religionization” of public policy and legislation concerning gender and sexuality throughout the Americas. In addition to offering analyses attentive to specific national contexts, participants are also interested to ask how not just legislation but even moral framings—ways, that is, of naming and shaping the public perception of a “social problem”—travel across national borders.

Hemispheric Institute of Performance & Politics
20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor

This event is made possible by the generous support of The Henry Luce Foundation.

For more information about this event, please contact the NYU Hemispheric Institute of Performance & Politics at 212-998-1631.

This event is free and open to the public.  Venue is wheelchair accessible.  If you need other accommodations, please let us know as soon as possible.


Roberto J. Blancarte is Professor and Director of the Center of Sociological Studies at El Colegio de México in Mexico City. He is the founder and main counselor of the Interdisciplinary Program for the Study of Religions (PIER) of El Colegio Mexiquense in Zinacantepec, Mexico, and an associate researcher of the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités in France. Blancarte has been counselor at the Mexican Embassy to the Holy See and Chief of Staff of the Vice-ministry of Religious Affairs. His research work has dealt with sociology of religion, particularly Church-State relations, secularisation, “laicity” and lately around the connection between the secular State and sexual and reproductive rights. He has been Visiting Professor at Dartmouth College (NH, USA) and the École Pratique des Hautes Études (France). He is the author and editor of several books, including Historia de la Iglesia católica en México (1992); Religión, Iglesias y democracia (1995); Laicidad y valores en un estado democrático (2000); Afganistán, la revolución islámica frente al mundo occidental (2001); El sucesor de Juan Pablo II: Escenarios y candidatos del próximo cónclave (2002); Entre la fe y el poder: Política y religión en México (2004); Sexo, religión y democracia (2008); Los retos de la laicidad y la secularización en el mundo contemporáneo (2008); Para entender el Estado laico (2008) and numerous articles in scientific reviews. He writes a weekly column on politics and religion for a national newspaper (Milenio) and participates actively in local politics, particularly around the subject of civil freedoms.

Faye Ginsburg is David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology at NYU. She also is the director of the Graduate Program in Culture and Media; the director of the Center for Media, Culture and History; and co-director of the Center for Religion and Media. She received her Ph.D. in 1986 from the City University of New York. She is the author of Contested Lives: The Abortion Debate in An American Community (UC Press, 1989). She is the editor, with Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing of Uncertain Terms: Negotiating Gender in American Culture (Beacon Press, 1990); with Rayna Rapp of Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction (UC Press, 1995); with Barbara Abrash of 9/11 and After, A Virtual Case Book (2002); and with Lila Abu-Lughod & Brian Larkin of Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain (UC Press, 2002). Her forthcoming book Mediating Culture: Indigenous Identity in a Digital Age will be published by Duke U.P.

Marcial Godoy-Anativia is a sociocultural anthropologist and the Associate Director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University. From 2000-2007, he worked in the Program on Latin America and the Caribbean and the Program on International Collaboration at the Social Science Research Council. His recent publications include “Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Middle East Studies in the Aftermath of 9/11,” (with Seteney Shami), “We Are Living in a Time of Pillage: A Conversation with Carlos Monsiváis,” and Ciudades Translocales: Espacios, flujo, representación—Perspectivas desde las Américas (2005), co-edited with Rossana Reguillo.

Carol Mason is director of Gender and Women’s Studies and associate professor of English at Oklahoma State University. She is the author of Killing for Life: The Apocalyptic Narrative of Pro-life Politics (Cornell University Press, 2002) and Reading Appalachia from Left to Right: Conservatives and the 1974 Kanawha County Textbook Controversy (also from Cornell, 2009). Mason’s articles have appeared in Cultural Studies, NWSAJ, Journal of Constitutional Law, Appalachian Journal, Hypatia and many edited collections. Her scholarly interest in the rise of the right since the 1960s complements a background in activism and nonprofit development.

María Consuelo Mejía is an anthropologist with a masters Degree and Doctoral Studies in Latin American Studies. She is one of the founders of Catholics for the Right to Decide (CDD Mexico) and its director since 2005. During 2004 she worked for the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region based in New York as Senior Program Officer for the Safe Abortion Project. Mejía has received numerous awards for her remarkable work on the defense of women’s human rights, community leadership and for her individual contribution to Reproductive and Sexual Health: Award from Amnesty International USA in 1998; The medal “Omecíhuatl” from the Women’s Institute of Mexico City, in October 2006; “To the women who opened a way through Politics” from the Women’s Institute and the Minister of Social Development and the Government of Mexico City on November 2007; ‘Medal of Honor’ from the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere (IPPF/WHR) on July 2008. Maria Consuelo is author and coauthor of a number of publications.

Ann Pellegrini is Associate Professor of Performance Studies and Religious Studies at New York University. She has been director of CSGS since 2008. She received her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies from Harvard University, in 1994. She holds degrees in Classics from Harvard-Radcliffe College and Oxford University as well as an M.A. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University. She is the author of Performance Anxieties: Staging Psychoanalysis, Staging Race (Routledge, 1997), co-author, with Janet R. Jakobsen, of Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance (NYU Press, 2003; Beacon Press, 2004); co-editor, with Daniel Boyarin and Daniel Itzkovitz, of Queer Theory and the Jewish Question (Columbia U.P., 2003); and co-editor, with Jakobsen, of Secularisms (Duke U.P., 2008).  With José Esteban Muñoz she co-edits the book series “Sexual Cultures” for New York University Press. In 2007 she was the Freud-Fulbright Visiting Scholar of Psychoanalysis at the Sigmund Freud Privatstiftung in Vienna. Her essay, “‘Signaling through the Flames’: Hell House Performance and Structures of Religious Feeling,” received the 2008 Constance Rourke Prize from the American Studies Association for the best article published in American Quarterly (Vol. 59, 2007).

Diana Taylor is University Professor at NYU, where she teaches in the departments of Performance Studies and Spanish. She is the author of Theatre of Crisis: Drama and Politics in Latin America (1991), which won the Best Book Award given by New England Council on Latin American Studies and Honorable Mention in the Joe E. Callaway Prize for the Best Book on Drama, of Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’, Duke U.P., 1997, and The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Duke U.P., 2003) which won the ATHE Research Award in Theatre Practice and Pedagogy and the Modern Language Association Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for the best book in Latin American and Spanish Literatures and Culture (2004). She is editor of Stages of Conflict: A Reader in Latin American Theatre and Performance (2008, Michigan U. P.) and co-editor of Holy Terrors: Latin American Women Perform (2004, Duke U.P.), Defiant Acts/Actos Desafiantes: Four Plays by Diana Raznovich, Bucknell U. P., 2002, Negotiating Performance in Latin/o America: Gender, Sexuality and Theatricality, (1994, Duke U.P.) and The Politics of Motherhood: Activists from Left to Right (1997, University Press of New England). She has edited five volumes of critical essays on Latin American, Latino, and Spanish playwrights. Her articles on Latin American and Latino performance have appeared in The Drama Review, Theatre Journal, Performing Arts Journal, Latin American Theatre Review, Estreno, Gestos, Signs, MLQ and other scholarly journals. She has also been invited to participate in discussions on the role of new technologies in the arts and humanities in important conferences and commissions in the Americas (i.e. ACLS Commission on Cyberinfrastructure). Diana Taylor is Founding Director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, funded by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.

Juan Marco Vaggione is a full time researcher at the Argentinean National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) and a professor of Sociology at the School of Law, National University of Córdoba. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research (2005) and a Doctorate in Law and Social Sciences from the National University of Córdoba (2001). His main research interests are the interconnections between religion and politics in Latin America as well as the analysis of sexual and reproductive rights. Vaggione is currently directing a research project on religious influences on public policies in Argentina in the context of current debates about sexual and reproductive rights. Furthermore, Vaggione is a close collaborator of Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir.

David Harrington Watt is Professor of History at Temple University where his research and reaching interests include U.S. religious history; U.S. intellectual history; and twentieth-century U.S. social and cultural history. His first book, A Transforming Faith: An Exploration of Twentieth-Century American Evangelicalism (Rutgers University Press, 1991), focused on the intellectual history of popular evangelicalism in the years between the famous Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee and the election of Jimmy Carter. In Bible-Carrying Christians: Conservative Protestants and Social Power (Oxford University Press, 20002), Watt used ethnographic research to rethink the relationship between Bible-carrying Christians and social power in Reagan’s America. He is currently working on a new book, which is tentatively entitled: “Anti-fundamentalism: A Brief History.”

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