The “Collaborative Feminist Scholarships and Activisms Roundtable” brought together five publicly engaged humanists and performers across the ability, gender, and sexual orientation spectrum together in conversation with a similarly diverse group of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at U-M*. Katherine Gibson, Nadine Naber, Amber DiPietra, Petra Kuppers, and Amy Sara Caroll each shared their strategies and experiences of doing critical and collaborative humanities work in distinct geographical contexts, connected to, but not limited within, academia.
As someone whose queer identity pervades his life and practices as a student, teacher, and advocate, I couldn’t help but feel inspired in the company of such brilliant and caring individuals. Perhaps, that explains why I asked each of them in the end: Given the extensive emotional and intellectual demands of critical collaborative and activist work, how do you practice self-care? Katherine Gibson, for example, conducts walking meetings with her students and staff. Nadine Naber makes all-natural, therapeutic body products for personal use, as well as for friends and colleagues. Amber DiPietra advocates for intimacy with oneself, for allowing the body to produce new knowledge in a quiet, “unlanguaged” place. Petra Kuppers thrives within interdependency: to see and recognize each other within partnerships, to let this mutual love, trust, and familiarity strengthen oneself and one’s work. And, Amy Sara Caroll relies on writing, in particular, Haiku.
I felt extremely drawn to Nadine Naber’s end comment in which she went beyond the individualized practice of self-care, and similar to Petra Kuppers, suggested as well on getting to a calm place by nurturing a sense of belonging in, and with, a collective. With that in mind, I asked the same question to my #PAGE friends. Here are their additions.
*The roundtable was jointly sponsored by: U-M Arab and Muslim American Studies and the Border Collective Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop.