Emory University professor of anthropology Carla Freeman spoke to students of the College of William and Mary Thursday as a part of the annual Brainwaithe Lecture in women’s studies, arguing that the same globalization trends leading the College to seek a higher international profile could be increasing the economic opportunities of women worldwide.
In her lecture, entitled “Enterprising Selves,” Freeman examined the affective labors of life and work among female entrepreneurs in contemporary Barbados.
She focused on gender relationships in terms of entrepreneurship, neo-liberalism and the experience and identities of women in Barbados.
According to Freeman, globalization has encouraged female entrepreneurship and it has drastically shifted the roles of women in the workplace, especially in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean.
This growing emphasis on individual and economic stability places large amounts of pressure on the women of a once patriarchal society, encouraging many to venture into the world of entrepreneurship.
“A new self-entrepreneur is required to seek innovation, procurement of new skills, imagination and courage,” Freeman said. “[It] also requires a self-determination.”
The lecture was designed to appeal to women’s studies and sociology students.
“This lecture gives students a presentation you wouldn’t normally get in the classroom and addresses hot topics that appeal to the students,” director of women’s studies Christine Burns said.
The annual Brainwaithe Lecture in women’s studies was established in 1996 to commemorate Minnie Brainwaithe, the first woman to petition to attend the College.
When Brainwaithe appealed to audit a chemistry class in 1896, her request was denied by a 4-3 faculty vote. As an alternative, the College established “Ladies of the Town and College,” allowing women to attend certain lectures on the works of William Shakespeare.
The College would not open its doors to women until 1918.
Freeman was brought to the College at the invitation of an executive committee.
Every year, the department of women’s studies is awarded $2,000 for the lecture.
Freeman has previously published two books and numerous scholarly articles on gender, globalization, labor and identity in the Caribbean.
“I think she is one of the most important names in the area, in terms of gender and globalization,” women’s studies professor Gul Ozygen said.
A book signing and reception in the basement of Earl Gregg Swem Library followed the lecture and gave students the opportunity to chat with Freeman.
“I think that all students are concerned about aspects of the workplace and globalization,” Freeman said. “There is lots of movement and possibilities that come along with globalization, but those possibilities are more uneven [for women].”