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Disrupting the Script

Disrupting the Script: Raising to Legal Consciousness Sexual Assaults on Black Women

Monday, March 19, 2012
12:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Levin Ballroom
Wheelchair accessible
Brandeis University

Conference Presenters


Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman

Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman is Assistant Professor of English at Brandeis University. Her work centers on nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century American and African American literature and culture; gender studies and multiethnic feminisms; and visual and media culture. She is currently investigating the growing popularity of Islam among African American women and its representation in their contemporary literary and cultural products. Abdur-Rahman’s book Against the Closet: Black Political Longing and the Erotics of Race is due out this year from Duke University Press.

Vanessa Adams-Harris

Photo of Vanessa Adams-HarrisVanessa Adams-Harris, is a Mvskoke Creek / African American artist, actor, director, workshop facilitator and playwright. Her more than twenty years of theatre experience includes international appearances in award-winning solo shows as Rosa Parks, Oklahoma legend Ada Lois Sipuel-Fisher, and Lena May Baker. Adams-Harris created Theatre By Me I and II, a theatre study for African American children, fostering future playwrights, directors, actors, and artists.

Bernadette Brooten

Photo of Bernadette BrootenBernadette Brooten, Robert and Myra Kraft and Jacob Hiatt Professor of Christian Studies at Brandeis University, is founder and director of the Brandeis Feminist Sexual Ethics Project. Brooten wrote Love Between Women and Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue and edited Beyond Slavery: Overcoming Its Religious and Sexual Legacies. She has a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to write a book on early Christian women who were enslaved or who owned their laborers. Her awards include fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, Harvard Law School, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Bunting Institute.

Adrienne Davis

Photo of Adrienne DavisAdrienne Davis, Vice Provost and William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law at Washington University, is renowned for her scholarship and teaching on gender and race relations; theories of justice and reparations; feminist and critical race theory; and law and popular culture. She has written extensively on the gendered and private law dimensions of American slavery, the legal regulation of “irregular intimacies,” and how culture and law converge to distribute justice.

Anita Hill

Photo of Anita HillAnita Hill is Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s Studies, as well as Senior Advisor to the Provost, at Brandeis University. Hill teaches courses on race and the law and has published numerous scholarly articles on educational policy and civil rights. She has received awards for dedicating her life, in the wake of Justice Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, to encouraging those who have suffered harassment and discrimination to speak out. In 2011, she was honored by the “Sex, Power and Speaking Truth: Anita Hill 20 Years Later” conference, held at Hunter College.

Régine Jean-Charles

Photo of Régine Jean-Charles Régine Jean-Charles is Assistant Professor of French at Boston College, where she holds a joint appointment with the program in African and African Diaspora Studies. Her work examines Francophone African and Caribbean literatures and cultures, feminist theory, and struggles for human rights. Jean-Charles’s article “Cracks of Gender Inequality: Haitian Women After the Earthquake” was recently featured by the Social Science Research Council.

Jennifer Christine Nash

Photo of Jennifer Christine NashJennifer Christine Nash is Assistant Professor of American Studies and Women's Studies at George Washington University, where she researches and teaches in the areas of black feminism; black sexual politics; race and law; and the intersections of race, gender, and visual culture. Nash is currently completing her manuscript The Black Body in Ecstasy: Reading Race, Reading Pornography, an examination of black women's representations in hard-core pornography.

Intisar Rabb

Photo of Intisar Rabb Intisar Rabb is Assistant Professor at Boston College Law School, where she teaches advanced constitutional law, criminal law, and comparative and Islamic law. Rabb is also a research affiliate at the Harvard Law School Islamic Legal Studies Program and a 2010 Carnegie Scholar, awarded for “Islamic Law and Legal Change: The Internal Critique,” which examines criminal law reform in the Muslim world.

Faith Smith

Photo of Faith SmithFaith Smith is Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies and English and American Literature at Brandeis University. Smith’s teaching and research interests include Caribbean literary and cultural production and intellectual history; literatures of the African Diaspora; and gender and sexuality in postcolonial literature. She published Creole Recitations: John Jacob Thomas and Colonial Formation in the Late Nineteenth-Century Caribbean, and edited a 2011 anthology, Sex and the Citizen: Interrogating the Caribbean.

Traci West

Photo of Traci WestTraci West is Professor of Ethics and African American Studies at Drew University and an ordained United Methodist elder. She has written Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women's Lives Matter and Wounds of the Spirit: Black Women, Violence, and Resistance Ethics, and she has edited Our Family Values: Religion and Same-sex Marriage. She is currently working on anti-racist narrative ethics that compares activist strategies for addressing gender-based violence against women and girls in Ghana, Brazil, and South Africa.


Gail Elizabeth Wyatt

Photo of Gail Elizabeth WyattGail Elizabeth Wyatt, a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified sex therapist, is Professor of Psychiatry and Biomedical Sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Behavior at UCLA. Wyatt has been recognized for her work in Jamaica, Africa, India, and most recently South Africa, where she conducts a longitudinal study of the aftermath of rape among South African women. Her best-selling book Stolen Women: Reclaiming our Sexuality, Taking Back our Lives identifies the historical and current psychological effects of slavery on Black women’s sexual health.