Form + Forces: A Celebration of the work of Trinh Minh-ha

Friday, April 28, 2023
Toll Room, Alumni House, UC Berkeley

Register for this free event

Form + Forces: A Celebration of the Work of Trinh Minh-Ha is a day-long symposium that critically engages with the creative and scholarly work of acclaimed feminist filmmaker, writer, music composer and literary theorist Trinh Minh-Ha. The symposium will bring together more than a dozen scholars and artists to engage in deep conversation about the multiple interventions she has made in feminist scholarship on aesthetics, poetics, cultural politics, identity, displacement, and migration over the last 40 years. Trinh’s archive spans across genres, ranging from books to films to video installation art, epitomizing an epistemological sensibility that refuses to be contained by disciplinary form. Her multidisciplinary approach to these recurring themes in her work, manifests how Trinh has consistently disrupted “the illusory purity of inherited categories to make way for the hybrid and in-between.”

The symposium asks: how does form translate forces? What is the relationship between form and epistemology? How does genre shape the kinds of questions that we ask? Or the means by which we might attempt to tell different kinds of stories – stories that need telling – that disrupt the coloniality of Western knowledge systems? What forms of relationality and expression are possible when one moves across borders of all kinds – political, discursive, disciplinary, language, and the boundaries of the body?

Co-sponsored by: the Townsend Center for the Humanities

Thursday, April 27th (3-6pm) Banatao Auditorium – 310 Sutardja Dai Hall
Film screening of Trinh Minh-ha’s latest film What About China? (135 mins)
Following the film, Professor Trinh Minh-ha will be in conversation with
Simon Leung, artist, writer and Professor of Art, UC Irvine

Friday, April 28th (9am – 5pm with reception following)
Toll Room, Alumni House

9:00 – 9:30am Welcome remarks
Leslie Salzinger, Chair of Gender & Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley
Trinh T. Minh-ha, Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School, UC Berkeley

9:30 – 11:00 am Keynote – The wordsmithing of Trinh T Minh ha’s film forms
Jyoti Mistry, Film, Photography and Literary Composition, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Trinh T Minh ha’s film practice is closely connected to her literary explorations, both of which defy any easy categorizations. The entanglement of poetic forms in her writing with strategies of ethnographic refusal, essayistic intent and images rendered through the framer’s framing, collectively forces closer examination of the connection between knowledge production and its aesthetic expression. Taking its cue from the (art)works of Trinh T Minh ha, this talk is a proposition of words and images at play, in repose and, at other times at odds with each other.

11:15 – 12:30 pm Panel I: Woman, Native, Other
Moderator: Patrice D. Douglass, Gender & Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley
Minoo Moallem, Gender & Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley
Mark Minch-de Leon, English, UC Riverside
Vivian Chavez, Public Health, San Francisco State University

12:30 – 1:45 pm Lunch Break

1:45 – 3:00 pm Panel II: Lovecidal: Walking with the Disappeared
Moderator: Paola Bacchetta, Gender & Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley
Litia Perta, Resident at the Emily Harvey Foundation, Italy
Mike Sperlinger, Theory and Writing, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Norway
Giancarlo Cornejo Salinas, Cinema & Media Studies, University of Southern California
Krista Lynes, Communication Studies, Concordia University

3:15 – 4:30 pm Panel III: Elsewhere, Within Here: Immigration Refugeeism and the Boundary Event
Moderator: Michael Dalebout, Rhetoric, UC Berkeley
Latipa, Media & Cultural Studies, UC Riverside
Lisa Min, Asian Studies, Yonsei University, Korea
Laura Fantone, Anthropology and Social Change Faculty, CIIS

4:30 pm Closing Remarks
Courtney Desiree Morris, Gender & Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley

5:00 – 7:00 pm Reception


Simon Leung is artist, writer and Professor of Art at UC Irvine. Leung’s foremost concern as an artist is how “the ethical,” broadly defined, can be thought and traced. His projects, in various media, include a rethinking of AIDS and otherness using the figures of the pinprick and the glory hole; meditations on “the residual space of the American/Vietnam War” (comprising works on the squatting body as counter-architecture, military desertion as askesis, and surfing); a video essay on the site/non-site dialectic instigated by Robert Smithson’s reception of Edgar Allan Poe (with a little help from Yvonne Rainer); a reconsideration of Marcel Duchamp’s oeuvre as an discourse in ethics (as seen through Étant donnés); and “squatting projects” in various cities (Berlin, New York, Chicago, Vienna, Guangzhou, Hong Kong), where the squatting body, as a heuristic cipher, is conjugated by an interpretation generated by the conditions of each location.

Jyoti Mistry is Professor in FILM at the University of Gothenburg and works in film both as a research form and as a mode of artistic practice. She has made critically acclaimed films in multiple genres and her installation work draws from cinematic traditions but is often re-contextualized for galleries and museums that are outside of the linear cinematic experience.


Patrice D. Douglass is an Assistant Professor in Gender and Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley. She holds a PhD and MA in Culture and Theory from the University of California, Irvine, a MA in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Riverside, and a BA in Feminist Studies and Legal Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her first book project, tentatively titled, “Engendering Blackness: The Ontology of Sexual Violence” , examines the relationship between sexual violence and modern racial slavery and finds it not only inseverable but also fundamental to the structural predicaments facing Blackness in the present.

Minoo Moallem is a professor of Gender and Women’s Studies. She is currently Director of Media Studies. Professor Moallem received her MA and BA from the University of Tehran and her Ph.D. from Université de Montréal. She has also done postdoctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She was the Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies Department at Berkeley from 2008-2010 and the Chair of the Women’s Studies Department at San Francisco State University from 2001-2006. Professor Moallem is the author of Persian Carpets: The Nation As a Transnational Commodity, Routledge, 2018; Between Warrior Brother and Veiled Sister. Islamic Fundamentalism and the Cultural Politics of Patriarchy in Iran, University of California Press, 2005, the co-editor (with Caren Kaplan and Norma Alarcon) of Between Woman and Nation: Nationalisms, Transnational Feminisms and The State, Duke University Press, 1999, and the guest editor of a special issue of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East on Iranian Immigrants, Exiles and Refugees.

Mark Minch-de Leon is Assistant Professor of English at UC Riverside, and works at the intersections of Indigenous Studies, Rhetorical Theory, and Narrative and Visual Studies. His current book project looks at the anticolonial, nonvitalist dimensions of California Indian intellectual and cultural resurgence. Indigenous Inhumanities: California Indian Revitalizations and Postapocalyptic Research is grounded in the ongoing proliferation of cultural and intellectual production by California Indian communities in the aftermath of what many refer to as the end of the world and others, genocide.

Vivian Chavez is Associate Professor of Public Health at San Francisco State University. Her classes seek to develop beloved community and share a sense of goodwill while actively seeking to understand paradox and conflict. Vivian is passionate about cultivating critical consciousness and developing sacred spaces to facilitate inclusive dialogue. Her teaching is rooted in art and culture to develop awareness of the social aspect of one’s own life. She has written books, articles & produced films on Prevention Education, Youth Media, Community Research, and Cultural Humility.

Paola Bacchetta is Professor in Gender and Women’s Studies at University of California, Berkeley. She was the first Chair of the Gender Consortium at Berkeley. She is currently Co-Chair of Decolonizing Sexualities Network, and Initiative on Political Conflict, Gender and Peoples’ Rights. Her research and teaching interests are in: decolonial feminist and queer theory; lesbian and queer of color theory; epistemologies of the global south(s); social movements; and space. Her geographical concentrations are France, India, U.S., Brazil. Her sole authored and co-edited book length works include: Co-Motion: On Power, Subjects, and Feminist and Queer Alliances (Duke University Press, Forthcoming); Global Raciality: Empire, Postcoloniality, and Decoloniality, co-edited (Routledge, 2019); Femminismi Queer Postcoloniali, co-edited (Verona, Italy: Ombre Corte, 2015); Gender in the Hindu Nation (Delhi, India: Women Ink, 2004); Right-Wing Women, co-edited (Routledge, 2002); Textes du Mouvement Lesbien en France, 1970-2000, co-edited (DVD in ARCL Lesbiennes, Mdf, Paris, France, 2011). She’s published over sixty-five journal articles and book chapters in English and other languages.

Litia Perta is a writer, a teacher and a parent: a human being always (already) in a vast web of relations. She is shaped by a deep regard for the revolutionary possibilities inherent in creative joy. Through workshops, one-on-one consultations, and teacher trainings, she supports artists, writers, scholars, curators, and institutions in their efforts to dismantle the internalized systems of oppression that contract creative possibility and keep humans hidden (legible), small. She holds a PhD from the Rhetoric Department at the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked with Trinh T. Minh-ha. She lives off the grid on a small island in western Washington and is currently a resident of the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice, Italy.

Mike Sperlinger is Professor of theory and writing at Oslo National Academy of the Arts. Mike studied English Literature (BA, Sussex) and Aesthetics & Art Theory (MA, Middlesex), and in 2006-07 he was a Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York. As a writer he has contributed to a variety of publications including Afterall, Art Monthly, Dot Dot Dot, Frieze, Radical Philosophy and Texte zur Kunst, as well as catalogue texts for artists including Keith Arnatt, Ursula Mayer, Laure Prouvost and Hong-Kai Wang.

Giancarlo Cornejo is Assistant Professor in the Division of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He holds a Ph.D. in Rhetoric with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality from the University of California, Berkeley. His undergraduate studies were completed at Pontifical Catholic University of Peru where he earned his B. A. in Sociology. Prior to joining USC in 2020, he was University of California President’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UC Davis. His essays have appeared in journals such as Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Journal of Homosexuality, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, Estudos Feministas, Lectora: Revista de dones i textualitat, and Nomadías. His book manuscript, tentatively titled Travesti Memory and Politics: Toward a Peruvian Transgender Imaginary, proposes travestismo as a critical tool to read the unstable and contested production of gender, sexuality, and race in contemporary Latin America.

Krista Lynes is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Canada Research Chair in Feminist Media Studies, and Co-Director, Feminist Media Studio at Concordia University. Lynes examines the role contemporary art, experimental media, and infrastructures play in mediating social life under conditions of political struggle or precarity. They have analyzed media interventions in times of war, occupation and crisis, as well as conditions of systematic disenfranchisement and vulnerability in and through bordering regimes. Their focus on the politics of visibility engages feminist and queer theories, feminist STS, critical race studies, postcolonial and transnational examinations of culture, and theories of embodied subjectivity.

Michael Dalebout is a Lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley. Their research foregrounds the premise that technology shapes both social and psychic life to pursue an emancipatory vision of democratic participation. Their current book project analyses stand-up comedians’ digitally mediated acts of self-presentation, arguing that the political efficacy of comic voices in the age of the online digital public sphere is about ‘standing up.’ Their co-written article about how documedia, and alternate reality gaming as different approaches to the QAnon phenomenon recently appeared in NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies.

Latipa is an artist, filmmaker, writer, and Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her work summons sites of memory and resistance in the wake of historical dispossession, migration, and diaspora. Latipa’ s more recent projects include Gaza Before the Law, a film about failure of the US legal system in matters of justice for Palestine, The Archive’s Fold, a multi-image slide installation that posits ancestral healing by reading the violence of the US colonial archive through past and future ancestors, and White Gaze (with Việt Lê), an artist’s book and photographic installation that poses a decolonial counterpoint to National Geographic and its legacy of imperialist visuality. She has founded and developed grassroots initiatives to build and tend to community such as at land’s edge (2015-18) a popular education platform based in South and East Los Angeles and the Memory and Resistance Laboratory (2020- present) which nurtures liberatory and reparative futures through community-engaged memory work.

Lisa Min is an anthropologist based in Seoul, teaching courses on politics, art, and visuality at Yonsei University. She is working on two book projects that begin with north Korea, that reflect on “the place called north Korea” as a question and provocation for doing and writing anthropology.


Laura Fantone is an Italian political and social scientist. She holds an M.A. in Gender and Women’ s Studies and a Ph.D. in Social Research and Postcolonial Studies. Her research and activism revolve around immigration, forced migration and refugees and urban issues, gender, and visual technologies. She teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), Graduate Program in Anthropology and Social Change. She published Queer and PostColonial feminisms with Paola Bacchetta, and produced two documentaries on globalization and anti-fascism.