The 2023 SWS Distinguished Feminist Lecturer Award Winner is Dr. Zakiya Luna. Thank you to the SWS Distinguished Feminist Lecturer Subcommittee that was comprised of Shobha Hamal Gurung (Chair), Christobel Asiedu, Jill Bystydzienski, Margarita Levine, Sara Tyberg, and Marcella Gemelli. The SWS Distinguished Lectureship was founded in 1985 as a way of recognizing members whose scholarship employs a feminist perspective, and of making this feminist scholar available to campuses that are isolated, rural, located away from major metropolitan areas, underfunded and without the resources needed to invite guest speakers, and/or characterized by hostility to feminist scholarship. A key goal of the program is to provide a feminist voice on campuses where such a perspective is unusual and/or unwelcome. Please note that the Lectureship originally carried the name of Cheryl Allyn Miller, but now there is a separate Cheryl Allyn Miller Award.
Zakiya Luna is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Dean’s Distinguished Professorial Scholar at Washington University in Saint Louis. Her research, teaching and community work focus on social movements, reproduction, human rights, and intersectionality. She has published multiple peer-reviewed articles and chapters and secured multiple grants including from the National Science Foundation. Her research on the reproductive justice movement includes the book Reproductive Rights as Human Rights: Women of Color and the Fight for Reproductive Justice (NYU Press), which was included on the Oprah Daily list “The 12 Books You Need to Read Post the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade Smackdown.” She is coeditor of Black Feminist Sociology: Perspectives and Praxis (Routledge) with Whitney Laster Pirtle. Her other writing includes contribution to Ms. and Refinery 29. Professor Luna earned a joint PhD in Sociology and Women’s Studies from University of Michigan, where she also earned a Master of Social Work. She was a University of California (UC) President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley affiliated with the Departments of Gender and Women’s Studies, Sociology and the Center for the Study of Law and Society. She was hosted by the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law, which she accidentally helped co-found (long story). She was also the Mellon Sawyer Seminar Human Rights Postdoc at University of Wisconsin, a Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellow and member of inaugural cohort (2019) of Society of Family Planning Changemakers in Family Planning.
As noted in her nomination materials collected by Victoria Reyes and Whitney Pirtle:
Dr. Luna is a dedicated teacher, a key part of her feminist praxis. She has developed many courses in order to teach students about feminist and sociological principles, including seminars of Intersectionality, Gender, Race, and Class, Reproduction, Reproductive Justice, Sociology of Gender, and Social Movements. Innovation, just as in her research, is also found in her pedagogy. For example, she was part of the collaboration between the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law /Center for Race and Gender that created the Center for Race & Gender Reproductive Justice Working Group while a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley and has advised many students in the area of gender, sexuality, intersectionality, reproductive justice and social movements
For example, she was [part of the collaboration between the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law /Center for Race and Gender that created of the Center for Race & Gender Reproductive Justice Working Group] while a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley and has advised many students in the area of gender, sexuality, intersectionality, reproductive justice and social movements. In recognition of her excellence in mentoring even at an early stage in her career, she was the inaugural recipient of the Sociology Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award while a graduate student at Michigan. …
Dr. Luna has also established herself as one of the most visible advocates of Black feminist sociology and praxis with an inspiring record of service, community activism and public scholarship. She has worked and marched alongside activists to increase rights for women of color in particular. Her commitment and labor for social justice in the academy and beyond was evident in graduate school. Four scholars, Drs. Hirschfield, Kazyak, Pfeffer, and Scherrer all met Dr. Luna while they were all in graduate school together and note that even then, “Dr. Luna quickly emerged as a leader at UM, working to organize across several cohorts to ensure graduate student rights and well-being, particularly among those most marginalized within the discipline.” …
Dr. Bridges, a former colleague of Dr. Luna’s when she was at University of California, Santa Barbara, writes that her feminist praxis also “left a lasting impact on our department, having instituted many changes that have made work in the department more equitable, transparent, and considered with shared goals in mind.” Her current WUSTL colleagues agree to the transformative character of Dr. Luna’s scholarship and praxis, note in their supporting letter that “Her commitment to forging collaborative networks that directly draw power from, as well as speak to, reproductive justice activists epitomizes the promise of an engaged, public sociology. And of course, this work has never been more urgent following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe earlier this year.”
We hope you will join us in congratulating Zakiya and that you will make plans to join us for the 2023 Winter Meeting Awards Banquet and Reception to be held on Saturday, January 14 starting at 5:15 pm. Please register here for the 2023 Winter Meeting where you will have the opportunity to attend this celebration.