WSRC Research Highlights

Fall 2021

Maryam GhodratiMaryam Ghodrati | The Visual Representation of Displacement

Maryam Ghodrati has a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her dissertation “Between the Visual and the Verbal: An Aesthetic of Open Wounds in Post-Traumatic Experience of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988)” is a comparative study of literary and artistic forms and genres that have responded to traumatic histories and their aftermath. Ghodrati is currently working on the visual representation of displacement. Through the analysis of painting, drawing, sculptor, photography, and film, created by both male and female artists of Kurdish and Palestinian origin, she investigates questions such as: How can a displaced body in exile prove its humanity? How are loss and wounding negotiated in visual representation and personal and collective histories from both male and female perspectives? And how culture, religion, ideology, and politics affect the way artists represent the human body?

Ama SaranAma Saran | The Lived Experience of Older Women of African Descent (and Dissent) as They Daily Negotiate the COVID Pandemic

Ama Saran, PhD, MSW, has worked at the nexus of public health, social welfare, and community education for nearly fifty years in urban and rural, domestic, and international settings. Her research at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center will involve research primarily canted toward the lived experience of older women of African descent (and dissent) as they daily negotiate the COVID pandemic. Saran is privileged to collaborate with a Brandeis senior, Aisha Waggeh, of Gambian ancestry to research and produce an exploratory essay from a mix of divergent standpoints and social, cultural contexts, Islamic and Christian, young adults, and elders, northeast and southeast; COVID in dual/dueling? perspectives. Saran has submitted a preliminary proposal for a Bamberg, Germany based conference on the conceptualization of home in a myriad of settings and voices. Her proposal and presentation will focus on Home related to Homegoings within the context of COVID as part of an interlocking series with a consistent emphasis on mental health impacts, ritual and cultural transference and transformation. Saran’s goal is to produce a larger body of research centered on older women of Gullah Geechee ancestry as well, in the southeast coastal low country of South Carolina, Grits and Grief, Rice and Rituals.

Innovative Research Into Gender and Women’s Issues

Working in the arts, humanities, and social sciences and at their intersections, the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center (WSRC) researchers and artists focus on vexing questions related to gender dynamics and inequalities. To illuminate the past and present, via empirical evidence and transcendent insight, the WSRC aims to construct a path to a more equitable future.

The WSRC acts as a nexus of three dynamic, integrated programs that operate on principles of interdisciplinary exchange and cross-generational partnership:

WSRC Research Projects

Cascading Lives: Stories of Loss, Resilience, & Resistance

The WSRC is delighted to announce that WSRC Director Dr. Karen V. Hansen and her co-investigator, Dr. Nazli Kibria of Boston University, have been awarded the Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge Grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Raikes Foundation. Their proposal, Cascading Lives: Stories of Loss, Resilience, & Resistance, was selected from 1,225 submissions and is one of 28 organizations from 18 states. Please view video here.


Inspired by Brandeis’ founding values of openness, inclusiveness and social justice, the National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine (known as C - Change) engages medical schools in action-research to facilitate institutional culture changes that allow all faculty members and physicians in training to contribute fully and reach their own full potential.The C-Change Initiative had their first article relating to their NIH funded research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Additional coverage can be found in Brandeis University newspapers, The Hoot and BrandeisNOW

Suffrage and Citizenship

The Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program, the Women’s Studies Research Center, and the Politics Department at Brandeis are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment.