“…these are our collaborators, these are equal partnerships”


Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science
IRWGS Core Faculty
IRWGS Director, 2004-07

The Global Center directors had a retreat in Paris this December. They were thinking about cross-network programming, that there should be themes across the centers. Not each center just doing its own thing. Were there issues that would be interesting to do across centers? One of the ideas they came up with was they thought gender would be an interesting topic, so they came back to us, and we said, “Yes, we can do that for you.” We exist, Women Creating Change, to work with the Global Centers. We brainstormed a bit to produce some ideas for the network, to work in collaboration with them, of themes that might be good cross-center themes.

We came up with four themes that built on projects of CSSD already and things that had happened at the Global Centers, and we came up with four. One was called Making Cities Livable: Gender, Displacement and Women’s Strategies, because we have two projects that work on gender and cities. I worked on this one, Reframing Violence Against Women, because my project is ending, on Muslim women and religion and family law and women’s rights with a couple of colleagues in the Middle East.

The third theme was Women Mobilizing Memory, which is the project that Marianne and Jean have been doing. They worked in Chile with Chilean colleagues on the aftermath of political violence there. They went to Istanbul in September, and they’re probably going elsewhere. It’s about women’s activism around memory and around reparations, a whole set of things—redress about past atrocities and political violence. It’s activist women and artists and theater performers and all of that. It’s been an amazing project, and they would love to continue it and thought maybe some of the Global Centers would be interested. Then the final one—Alice Kessler-Harris has been running a project, Social Rights After the Welfare State. She started it in the U.S. and then they had comparative meetings in Europe, which turned out to be incredibly interesting, in Germany and France, the old welfare states.

So there could be whole new initiatives with the Global Centers, with international colleagues, which is what we really love, our colleagues. You don’t just export knowledge the way some of these other Columbia institutes do. Actually these colleagues know more about their regions than we do. These are our collaborators, these are equal partnerships, and that’s really been wonderful for my projects where I always have mostly people from the Arab world, the Middle East, in those workshops. Hopefully this will be the next phase of what we do through CSSD.