Feminist Institute for Social Transformation Launches New Name

The Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies launched its new name, The Feminist Institute for Social Transformation (FIST) on September 14. [Graphic by Angel Xing.]

The Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies has officially launched its new name, The Feminist Institute for Social Transformation (FIST), during a breakfast on September 14

The event included speeches from students, the director of FIST Amrita Hari and Pauline RankinDean of the Faculty of Letters and Social Sciences.

The name change reflects Carleton University’s history as one of the first Canadian universities to offer a women’s studies course, according to Rankin.

“FIST rests on the shoulders of previous generations of feminists in Carleton,” Rankin said during her speech. “Certainly, the feminist theory and practice that propelled these women evolved through the much-needed critiques of Indigenous, Black, and queer feminists, among many others.

The current social landscape calls for an institute like FIST, Rankin said.

“We stand in historic times defined by the rise of pro-fascist governments, a climate crisis, attacks on reproductive rights, rollbacks on 2SLGBTQA+ protections, rampant racism, hostility to disability justice [and] the scourge of gender-based violence,” she said.

Hari, who was appointed The new director of FIST in July, said the name change “captures the values, ideas and aspirations that guide [the institute’s] several curriculum changes.

Third-year women’s and gender studies student Jay Baldwin, who spoke at the breakfast launch, is optimistic about the future of FIST.

“I think it is important that we recognize the fact that we cannot erase the injustices and inequalities committed in the past by institutions, but we can look to the future and make academia a more inclusive space where people of all identities to exist and share their views,” they said in an interview with the Charlatan.

Among new minersFIST has also introduced new courses focusing on trans feminisms, fat studies, and feminist intersections of anti-racism and indigeneity this fall.

Eileen Naazie, a second-year master’s student in women’s and gender studies, sees the new name as a tool for change.

“I see the name as a springboard to make people understand that anyone can be a feminist and fight for the transformation of society…and that’s what I’m here for,” Naazie said.

Baldwin, a disabled, black and queer student, said FIST said the new name better represents the diversity of the student population.

“I think it’s important because as we grow and transform as students and individuals, the institutions we are part of should reflect that,” they said.

Graphic presented by Angel Xing.