Community Projects

Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy Conference

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On October 26 to 28, 2012, Mount Royal University hosted a three-day philosophy conference, organized around the theme Theorizing the Body, Embodiment, and Body-Practices. Coinciding with the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy (CSWIP), the conference brought together around 130 academics, as well as 70 undergraduate students from MRU and the University of Calgary. Organized by Ada Jaarsma from the Department of Humanities in collaboration with philosophers at the University of Calgary, the conference was supported by a SSHRC Connection Program Grant, the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Teaching and Learning, the Office of the Provost, and the Humanities Department at MRU, as well as the Philosophy Department at the University of Calgary.

Participants presented on a range of contemporary issues in areas from across the discipline of philosophy, forging new as well as ongoing conversations about the intersection of philosophy with research in cognitive studies, feminist theory, queer theory and gender studies, and disability studies. The programme was anchored by two significant events: a very well-attended and received keynote address by Dr. Cressida J. Heyes, Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Alberta, entitled, “The Vigilant Feminist: Disciplinary and Anaesthetic Time,” and a rigorous panel of discussants who staged engaging conversations with Dr. Heyes’ work across her career. In addition to presentations by prominent experts, emerging scholars, and graduate students, the programme featured an undergraduate student plenary session, an interdisciplinary session on disability issues in higher education, and a workshop on open-access publishing in philosophy.

During and after the conference, participants noted the diversity, collegiality, and intellectual vibrancy of the event, commenting especially on the delicious food and the logistical ease of the shuttle that had been organized between MRU and a downtown hotel. According to attendees, the campus of MRU provided a hospitable, as well as thematically consonant, space for the conference; they described the facilities as excellent and accessible, with helpful visual signage and sufficient space for rest and conversation.  Alice MacLachlan, the past president of CSWIP, explains, “At a conference on embodiment that included several papers on the ethical dimensions of lifestyle (wellness ideology, sport, and dance) and of food (veganism), participants were treated to healthy, delicious, and varied vegetarian and vegan meals, with obvious attention to inclusion and communication.”

The conference offered a special opportunity for Arts students at Mount Royal to engage with new and exciting scholarship. MRU students who participated in the conference note that the experience was “wholly positive” and “incredibly fascinating.” One MRU student claims that “it really got me thinking out who actually contributes to the construction of knowledge,” and another explains, “Student and expert practitioners sat side by side and not only presented but questioned, built upon, critiqued and appreciated challenging perspectives and generous compliments.” Jeffrey Ray, a current student at MRU who presented his own research at the conference, explains, “Meeting new and seasoned individuals who share a love of philosophy was an invaluable experience. There was a strong sense of discovery among participants, presenters, and organizers.”

Comments from participants:

“CSWIP 2012 will go down in memory as one of the most intellectually valuable and collegial events the society has ever had. The conference provided an invaluable forum for graduate students and faculty at all levels of seniority to present and discuss their research together”
Cressida J. Heyes (Professor, Philosophy and Political Science, University of Alberta)

“Every year I look forward to the CSWIP conference in part because it is the conference where I can consistently count on being able to advance works-in-progress, in an environment that epitomizes constructive, helpful, and insightful feedback. The 2012 CSWIP conference has done this, and more.”
Suze Berkhout (Psychiatry, University of Toronto)

“As someone who is now living far from Canada, I depend on meetings like this to exchange ideas, share strategies, and support one another as part of a community of Canadian women philosophers, near and far.”
Lisa Guenther (Associate Professor, Philosophy, Vanderbilt University)

“The academic mood was collaborative, crackling with comments, suggestions, and challenges…. This is one of the most diverse conferences in terms of position, gender, race, sexuality, and ability I have ever been to, and it speaks to the conference organizer’s dedication to making CSWIP a rigorous academic community that values the knowledge and abilities of non-mainstream philosophers.”
Kristin Rodier (PhD student, Philosophy, University of Alberta)

“The caliber of the conference presentations was so impressive, and particularly many of the graduate student papers I attended were really excellent and thought-provoking. I was able to meet and talk to many of the people whose work I regularly teach and read for my own research.”
Ami Harbin (Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Oakland University)

“The entire weekend was expertly organized, the food was just incredible, the talks were especially stimulating, and the discussions in individual paper sessions were very collegial. It was a great privilege to be in the company of so many excellent scholars.”
Sara Rodrigues (PhD student, Social and Political Thought, York University)