American gender studies professor receives honorable mention for dissertation


MIDDLETOWN, Pa .– Mary Zaborskis, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Gender Studies at Penn State Harrisburg, received an Honorable Mention for the Feminist Formations Award from the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) for her essay, “Excavating Kanaka Maoli Gendered and Temporal (Archaeo) logics in ‘Kumu Hina’ ”, with co-author Elizabeth Reich, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

In their summary, Zaborskis and Reich state that the essay “draws on indigenous studies, trans studies, queer studies and critical youth studies to examine a 2014 documentary that explores the experiences of Hinaleimoana Kwai Wong- Kalu (Hina), a māhÅ« teacher, activist and curator of Kanaka Maoli culture in colonized Hawai’i.

MāhÅ« translates to “in the middle” and is often translated as a synonym for transgender. Zaborskis and Reich analyze the documentary to demonstrate how this translation is problematic in the way it imposes settler-based understandings of gender and sexuality on Kanaka Maoli formations of gender, sexuality and kinship.

The essay was honored at the NWSA Virtual Awards Ceremony in October. The NWSA is a Chicago-based organization that works to promote and support education on women and gender issues.

“The National Women’s Studies Association is just one great professional organization that is at the forefront of supporting feminist, queer, sexuality, and women’s studies in scholarship. [and] in activism, ”Zaborskis said. “They have really amazing leadership and support. … It’s exciting to have received recognition from them.

Zaborskis and Reich plan to revise their essay and resubmit it for publication in the NWSA journal.

“I was really proud of this work and collaboration with Dr Reich, and I’m just excited. Recognition or not, I feel very lucky to be able to do this work … and I can’t wait to keep doing work, ”Zaborskis said.


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