CSWAC Corner: Lieba Faier

Get to know our CSW Advisory Committee (CSWAC) members through CSWAC Corner! We are proud to have an advisory committee made up of feminist scholars working in various fields from gender studies to public health to film and television. Each month, we’ll feature a CSWAC member to learn more about them and their work.

For March 2021, we’re spotlighting:

Lieba Faier

Associate Professor, Geography and CSW Advisory Committee Chair

1) What are you currently working on?

I am completing a book called The Banality of Good. As the title suggests, it is about a kind of conflict or paradox that emerges when the intent to do good and address human suffering meets the bureaucratic forms and everyday logics of government practice. It focuses on the development of a UN-sponsored global project to fight human trafficking following the 2000 adoption of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. The book asks why these efforts have so spectacularly fallen short of their stated goals—despite having dedicated a lot of resources to them. The book is based on historical and policy research as well as fieldwork and interviews that I conducted, primarily during the aughts, with government agencies, international organizations, and grassroots NGOs and shelters in Tokyo, Manila, Washington DC, and Los Angeles.

2) Do you have any upcoming events or talks, or other community engagements you’d like to share?

Dr. Juan Herrera, who is also a CSWAC member, has been developing a program in the geography department on “Race, Space, and Difference,” including establishing a reading group among faculty and graduate students on these themes. I’m super excited for the possibilities that this project offers for rethinking both our program at UCLA and the discipline of geography more broadly. A description of the project can be found here.

3) Where can we find you on social media? 

Actually, I’m not on social media at all. Sometimes I read Twitter feeds to get the latest news, but I don’t have any social media accounts. I imagine that probably makes me seem very 1990s. I honestly find it a relief to not have to worry about having a social media presence.

4) What do you like about being CSWAC Chair?

CSWAC has been a super meaningful and important community for me to be a part of, particularly during my early years at UCLA when I was one of very few feminist scholars in my department. I love the sense of community and support that the group fosters on campus, as well as how it works as a space for hearing, exchanging, and developing new ideas for feminist research and practice. I like being CSWAC Chair because I get to be a part of supporting and developing a space like this for others at UCLA. Plus, all the staff and executive committee members are pretty awesome to work with!

5) What are you currently reading?

I’m in the middle of a lot of books! I have a bad habit of getting excited about a book and starting it and then also getting excited about another book and starting it before I finish the first one. I’m currently actively in the middle of Sara Ahmed’s On Being Included and Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, but I have stacks of others that I keep meaning to get back to. I did just finish Jane Ward’s The Tragedy of Heterosexuality and several books that I assigned for my graduate seminar: Savannah Shange’s Progressive Dystopia, Annemarie Mol’s The Body Multiple, and Angela Garcia’s The Pastoral Clinic.

6) What movie or TV show have you seen recently that you would recommend to others and why?

I recently recommended My Octopus Teacher to the students in my graduate seminar. We have been talking about multispecies relationships, and it’s a captivating story of one.

7) If you could have dinner with any public figure, past or present, who would it be and why?

Is the public figure doing the cooking? If so, I would choose either Ina Garten, Alice Waters, or Julia Childs. If not, probably Yayori Matsui, who was a well-known feminist journalist and activist in Japan. Her work has been foundational for my current project, and she led an incredible life. I have many of her publications and her autobiography, but I would love to be able to sit down with her one-on-one and ask her about her ideas and experiences.

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