Villanova University’s Jill McCorkel will speak on the racial politics of incarcerating women.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The 2015 Gensler Family Symposium on Feminism in a Global Context will offer an examination from the feminist perspective of mass incarceration, the policing of poor communities, and violence by the state.

The symposium, titled “Punishing Bodies: Feminist Responses to the Carceral State,” opens Monday, April 13, with a student-led event about punishing bodies at Middlebury, and concludes on Friday, April 17, with a day long conference featuring three panel discussions and host of invited and campus-based speakers.

The Gensler Symposium is free and open to the public.

“The United States has more prisoners than any other country in the world,” said symposium co-organizer, Laurie Essig, an associate professor of sociology and director of Middlebury’s program in gender, sexuality, and feminist studies. “The reasons for this are complex, and feminist scholarship can help us understand that complexity.

“By focusing on how history, culture and the economy create populations marked as ‘guilty’ and ‘criminal,’ feminist approaches to mass incarceration tell a story that is about the intersections of masculinity, race, sexuality and the body.”

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David Karp will discuss the theory and practice of restorative justice.

Highlighting the symposium on Wednesday, April 15, at 4:30 p.m. in the conference room at the Robert A. Jones ’59 House will be a guest lecture about restorative justice in a college setting followed by a panel discussion with Middlebury faculty and staff. The guest speaker, David Karp, is a professor of sociology and associate dean of student affairs at Skidmore College. He is a well-known restorative justice facilitator and trainer whose works include The Little Book or Restorative Justice for Colleges and Universities (Good Books, 2013).

Friday’s three sessions will be held at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Consult the symposium schedule for a complete listing of speakers, topics, and locations, including Seven Days columnist Judith Levine’s presentation on feminists and their relation to the offender regime.

At the 1 p.m. session, Villanova University’s Jill McCorkel will dissect the market logic and racial politics of incarcerating woman while Middlebury faculty members J Finley (American studies) will speak about lies, realities, and dreams in black women’s comedy, and Rebecca Tiger (sociology/anthropology) will address addiction, surveillance and the carceral state.

The Gensler Family Symposium on Feminism in a Global Context was established in 2008 by Drue Cortell Gensler, Class of 1957. This year’s event is co-organized by Roberto Lint Sagarena, associate professor of American Studies and director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity. The symposium has additional support from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.