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Meet Amy Lind

Her globetrotting route back to the Midwest led Amy Lind from California to New York, from the Andes to Arizona.

Date: 12/14/2006
By: Britt Kennerly
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Her globetrotting route back to the Midwest led Amy Lind from California to New York, from the Andes to Arizona.

The diverse and direct world view she gained along the way is now shared through the Women's Studies Department, where Lind has been named Mary Ellen Heintz Endowed Chair Associate Professor.

Born in Illinois and raised in Southern California, Lind earned her PhD in City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, with gender and development, social policy and feminist theory as her areas of concentration.

Her teaching roles include several years at Arizona State University as an assistant professor in the Women's Studies program. In Phoenix, Lind also worked as a consultant on urban and community development, planning and grant-writing for non-profits and community organizations, and she has also consulted for the United Nations.

Her interest in a role in UC's Women's Studies department was piqued upon meeting Anne Sisson Runyan, department head, in a professional setting.

"She has done an amazing job in this department – people want to emulate this model," Lind said.

Lind

Associate professor Amy Lind, right, is pictured with Anne Sisson Runyan, Women's Studies department head.

This professor's passions and promise started to gel early on. Even as a fifth-grader, Lind said, she was interested in learning Spanish and in understanding Latino cultures.

It was at UC Santa Cruz, however, that activism and acumen came together as Lind earned degrees in Latin American Studies and Women's Studies.

"At UCSC, I had the honor to take classes with prominent scholars such as bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldúa, Angela Davis, Donna Haraway, Teresa de Lauretis, Michelle Cliff, and Sonia Alvarez," she said.

"For me, Women’s Studies teaches us that knowledge is power, and knowledge is the key to survival for many people, myself included."

While at UCSC, Lind was an exchange student in Peru for a year and became fluent in Spanish: "It was sink or swim," she said.

So she swam – and between worldwide travel, research, publishing and teaching, there's been little time to float since.

Lind has received four Fulbright Scholarships: a Fulbright-Hayes Doctoral Dissertation grant to conduct doctoral research in Ecuador, a Fulbright Senior Scholars Grant to conduct research in Bolivia, and two Fulbright Senior Specialists Grants to teach graduate courses at a research institute in Quito, Ecuador.

The effects of her travels and experiences reverberate in her classrooms.

"I have lived for over four years in the Andes – one year in Peru, 2½ years in Ecuador, and 6 months in Bolivia," she said.

"I encourage all of my students to travel abroad, as those who do learn as much about other cultures as they do about their own. I believe it is important to 'turn the lens back on ourselves' and think more critically about our society and its impact globally. "I’ve taught five courses in gender studies masters programs in Ecuador and Bolivia and I hope to continue doing so. I learn as much as my students do. It has been a great experience."

Lind's work in the fields of Latin American and Women's Studies serves as a natural springboard for comparisons of women's movements worldwide.

"Latin American women’s movements have made amazing inroads in terms of acquiring legal rights for women but also in terms of challenging the negative effects of globalization and global inequities; in this sense, they are much further along than the women’s movement in the U.S.," she said.

"The mainstream women’s movement in the U.S. has tended to focus on white, middle class women’s issues and while this has been important, it has sometimes occurred at the expense of addressing major social issues such as welfare reform, poverty and racism, all issues that disproportionately affect poor women. Perhaps because of their colonial legacies, women’s movements in Latin America are far ahead of U.S. feminists in terms of understanding these issues and making the connections among various forms of stratification and oppression."

The drive to study these fields came early for Lind, through feminist scholars and activists, especially Virginia (Gina) Vargas, "a Peruvian feminist who is now also an important leader in regional and international feminist policy processes," Lind said. "I had the pleasure to work with her when I lived in Lima in the mid-1980s."

Even as a child, though, she had newsmaking role models.

When Lind was still in grade school in the early 1970s, her cousin, art historian Amy Conger, was a professor in Chile. There, in 1973, Conger became a political prisoner of dictator Augusto Pinochet’s regime. Lind recalls seeing Conger, upon her release, on NBC's "Today" show and remembers realizing the global implications of her relative's story.

"Luckily she survived," Lind said. "Her story has always been an inspiration to me." Students, too, inspire her.

They "always humble me, as I learn about their experiences and the hardships they have faced," she said.

"Sometimes it is important to be reminded that there is life outside the classroom."

Young voices also contribute to Lind's continuing education: "They have new ways of looking at these issues, in ways earlier generations didn't … it's always important to learn from what younger generations are saying," Lind said.

And getting her own thoughts into print is important, too.

"I love to write. If I had my way, I’d stay home several days a week and dedicate myself to writing projects," she said. "It helps, of course, to write about topics that I feel passionate about, such as women’s rights and sexual rights in Latin America."

There is no shortage of issues to tackle – or work to do. That even includes, in some cases, addressing everlasting questions about Women's Studies.

"There's still the idea that women's studies is either 'too radical' or a trivial discipline," Lind said.

"It certainly goes way beyond that. Women's Studies is actually a misnomer. It's really about gender relations in society."


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