International Womxn’s Week Keynote Address: Ananya Roy, “Undoing Property: Feminist Struggle in the Time of Abolition”

Photograph of five tiles laid on the ground. Each white tile has an image of handcuffs. On one of the tiles, someone has written

The GSD’s Spring 2021 Public Programs are all virtual and require registration.

For the full list of International Womxn’s Week activities, please visit the Womxn in Design website.

Scroll down to find complete registration instructions for this program and additional information about accessing the GSD’s programs.

Event Description

Renewed uprising against the death-making apparatus of police and prison demands that we attend to the relationship between property and personhood, specifically to how the theft of land is facilitated by the theft of life. This talk, given on the occasion of International Womxn’s Day and during the week that marks the first anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s killing, focuses on the propertization of the gendered subject in the making of whiteness. The time of abolition, Roy argues, requires the undoing of gender-property logics. What does this entail within the university? Speaking as “unbearable presence,” that which cannot be accommodated within the university’s diversity regimes, Roy foregrounds modes of refusal and rebellion inspired by Black and postcolonial feminism. In particular, she shares, and calls for, forms of abolitionist struggle that challenge the university as propertied/policed order and stage the disinheritance of whiteness. To wage feminist struggle in the time of abolition is to refuse to “fit under the lease.”

Womxn in Design‘s fifth annual International Womxn’s Week convenes a weeklong series of events that gathers members of the Harvard GSD community and beyond to celebrate and cultivate new ways of thinking about gender and power. In March 2021, the International Womxn’s Week Keynote Address and subsequent events will explore the theme of GRASSROOTS.

Screenshot from a virtual event. Ananya Roy, who has long dark brown hair and wears a red shirt, appears in a small square on the right. A larger rectangle shows a PowerPoint presentation, which contains an image of tiles on the ground and text reading "What is the university in the time of abolition?" Ananya and the PowerPoint are surrounded by a green background.

A screenshot from a virtual event. Five rectangles contain five different speakers, and they are all surrounded by a green background.


Headshot of Ananya Roy, who has long black hair and wears sunglasses, along with a large yellow necklace.Ananya Roy is Professor of Urban Planning, Social Welfare, and Geography and The Meyer and Renee Luskin Chair in Inequality and Democracy at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is founding Director of the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, which advances scholarship concerned with displacement and dispossession in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the world. Ananya’s work has focused on urban transformations and land grabs as well as on global capital and predatory financialization. With enduring theoretical commitments to postcolonial critique, feminist thought, and the Black Radical Tradition, she refuses the whiteness of canons of knowledge, forging theory and pedagogy attentive to historical difference. Ananya’s current research is concerned with “racial banishment,” the expulsion of working-class communities of color from cities through racialized policing and other forms of state-organized violence. She leads a National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network on Housing Justice in Unequal Cities and a Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar on Sanctuary Spaces: Reworlding Humanism. Ananya was named a Freedom Scholar by the Marguerite Casey Foundation in 2020.

Follow Ananya Roy on Twitter at @ananyaucla, and follow the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy at @challengeineq.

How to Join

Register to attend the lecture here. Once you have registered, you will be provided with a link to join the lecture via Zoom. This link will also be emailed to you.

The event will also be live streamed to the GSD’s YouTube page. Only viewers who are attending the lecture via Zoom will be able to submit questions for the Q+A. If you would like to submit questions for the speakers in advance of the event, please click here.

Live captioning will be provided during this event. A transcript will be available roughly two weeks after the event, upon request.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].