Two New PhDs in Feminist Studies

Submitted by Whitney Miller on

Congratulations to Dr. Elizabeth Ramírez Arreola and Dr. Stephanie Yingyi Wang, the two most recent graduates from GWSS’s Feminist Studies Doctoral Program. The successful completion of their degrees was marked by a doctoral hooding ceremony on June 9, at the first in-person graduation celebration to be held since 2019. They join the distinguished ranks of GWSS graduate alumnae, the first of whom received their PhDs in 2006.  

On June 11, they joined approximately 7,000 other graduating students, with an estimated audience of 50,000, in Husky Stadium for the first in-person UW commencement ceremony since the pandemic began. Yingyi served as a gonfaloniere, carrying the banner for the Graduate School at the opening and closing of the ceremony. She shared this video log in Chinese about the experience for friends and family who couldn’t be there in person.  

Quieren Mi Labor Más No Mi Intelecto 

Elizabeth Ramírez Arreola’s dissertation, advised by Angela Ginorio, is titled Quieren Mi Labor Más No Mi Intelecto – They Want My Hands Not My Brains:  Mapping the Gendered and Racialized Journeys of Adult “English Learner” Immigrant Latin American Women in the U.S. Higher Education System. This groundbreaking study ​is the first to be published on this population's experiences in higher education.Based on testimonios of eight women, as well as her own, Elizabeth’s dissertation argues for the importance of understanding these women’s educational ambitions and experiences in the changed context of migration post-NAFTA and post-war-on-drugs. Framed as laborers rather than potential students, these women managed to create a path to higher education in the face of gender, racial, ethnic, and class discrimination and institutional structural barriers. The use of testimonio provides both a method of research and of action to claim a space in higher education that acknowledges the wholeness and richness of who they are and what they bring.   

Dr. Ramírez Arreola has been teaching in the Ethnic Studies Department at Cal State East Bay since 2020. 

Cruel Activism 

Stephanie Yingyi Wang’s dissertation, advised by Priti Ramamurthy and Sasha Welland, is titled Cruel Activism: Precarity, Labor, and Affect of Chinese Feminist and LGBT Rights NGOs. In this brilliant study of Chinese feminist and LGBT NGO activists and activism, Yingyi makes several important interventions. She shifts the conceptualization of activists to activist-workers, thereby raising questions of labor. Why do they continue in the face of increasingly exhausting work conditions and pressures from the state? She turns to the “political economy of affect” to explain how passion and voluntarism drive their dogged commitment and, paradoxically, are also the grounds for the devaluation of their labors, especially under neoliberal regimes of professionalization of the NGO sector. To transnational feminism, Yingyi offers insights into the racialization of NGO activist workers in their circuits of work and the agonistic relationship of Chinese feminists with global donors and discourses. China Studies is enriched by Yingyi’s discussion of state-civil society relations from the standpoint of LGBT and feminist NGOs based on her research in three organizations and her own activism and scholarship. Beyond academia, Yingyi’s bold foray into the inner workings of NGOs and her commitment to transforming the working conditions and lives of NGO activist workers so that they flourish will be widely embraced. 

Dr. Wang will begin a job as Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at St. Lawrence University in August 2022.