New this semester there is a course centering a perspective not often discussed at Brandeis. Professor Evangelina Macias is teaching WGS 107A: Introduction to Indigenous and Native Women, Gender and Sexualities.
The course “covers a broad range of studies or perspectives, because we’ve got Native American and Indigneous. Even though they can be considered interchangeable, there are specificities within Native American and Indigneous studies,” says Macias. The course will look at women, genders and sexualities, with a specific focus on the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Two Spirit and Trans (MMIWG2ST) people. Enrolled students will look into this crisis, including the causes, impacts and the reasons why these specific groups of native and Indigenous people are being targeted.
The Brandeis Feminist Ethics Project addresses this crisis, saying, “Native American women suffer the highest incidence of sexual and other violence and face specific legal hurdles. More research and advocacy are needed to reverse this trend.” Macias says her course is almost a response to that description, acknowledging that the class speaks to the research and advocacy that is needed.
She says it is very important to acknowledge this crisis, as well as both the history and future of Native American and Indigenous people, as we are living in a colonized area. “As long as we’re on Indigenous land, we have a responsibility to know the history and current issues and experiences of Indigenous people,” she said. “I think that’s the first step to making a commitment to support Native and Indigenous people.”
That commitment involves both doing research and listening to native and Indigenous people. She notes that understanding native and Indigenous history is important, but that it is not the end of the story. Though there is a broad range of histories, there continues to be a broad range of presents and there will be a broad range of futures. “Centering Indigenous voices is imperative and shows that we’re still existing; we’re not just existing in relation to colonialism. We have futures, we have artists, we have thinkers who transcend this connection to colonialism.” Macias will emphasize modern issues and discussions of native and Indigenous people in her course.
WGS 107A includes readings, videos and guest lectures as course material. Macias says she is most excited about the guest lecturers. “I am also excited to facilitate a space where we’re listening to Indigenous voices—especially when we’re talking about women, genders and sexualities, there’s just such an exciting range of knowledge, perspective, and voices.” These lecturers will help provide a modern perspective, further proving the relevance of this course and of Indigenous issues.
Macias hopes students who take the course will walk away with “more than just an awareness.” Her goal is for students to have “a desire to continue to learn more, to keep listening to Native and Indigneous voices and a commitment to support Native and Indigenous people.”
The course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.. It is listed as a “special one-time course offering” so don’t miss your chance to take it!