Paris Center: A Year of Exceptional Women

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re taking a look back at some of the exceptional women who educated, inspired and challenged us over the past year by sharing their stories and expertise through a diverse array of public programs at the Paris Center.

Joelle Theubet
March 08, 2019

The following list is by no means exhaustive; it highlights some of our more memorable programming moments from the past year in key thematic areas of programming: critical dialogues in the social sciences, climate change, gender and agency, and encounters in the arts, music and film.

Critical dialogues

This past year we were fortunate to welcome four esteemed professors from the Columbia community whose research and advocacy has made profound theoretical and practical advancements in our understanding of the human experience.


  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak was honored at the Paris Center in June 2018, in a two-day conference by colleagues, including Etienne Balibar and Mireille Caille-Gruber. The conference was part of a multidisciplinary and multilingual project, analyzing Spivak’s research and militant activities through the perspective of the diverse academic fields upon which she has had a profound impact: literary theory, translation, political philosophy, postcolonial studies, gender studies, anthropology, education, history. Listen to podcasts from the talk here.


  • Participants from 23 countries gathered at the Paris Center on October 5 and 6 as part of a workshop of the Women and Gender in Global Affairs Network (WGGA) convened by Yasmine Ergas, director of the Gender and Public Policy specialization at Columbia SIPA. The WGGA network was established to counter the pervasive backlash against gender equality and the study of gender relations. Read more about the workshop.


  • Carol Gluck, George Sansom Professor of History,  taught in the M.A. In History and Literature program, in addition to acting as faculty mentor for the new Institute for Ideas and Imagination. She organized a popular WWII film series in Fall 2018 which included a conversation with actress Hanna Schygulla who spoke after the screening of her seminal film, "The Mariage of Maria Braun" by Rainer Werner Fassbinder


Climate change

Just as young women have taken the lead in organizing climate protests in Europe and the United States, SIPA alumna Cassia Moraes is empowering other early career professionals, masters and undergraduate students in sustainable development and climate justice through her Youth Climate Laders initiative. This inspiring program, which won the 2017 MIT Climate CoLab Contest and was presented to President Obama, held its inaugural session in Paris and Nairobi in the summer of 2018. Read more about it here and listen to the podcasts.



Addressing questions of ideas of race, gender, identity through creative arts and advocacy

  • In the fall semester, we partnered with the Maison Française and the School of the Arts campus to bring a film series curated by Maboula Soumahro and Nora Philippe to New York audiences. The series entitled “Blackness in French and Francophone Film” highlighted the new generation of black French women directors who are creating documentaries, news reports, and fiction films about the black experience in its plurality. We are excited to bring this series to the Paris Center in fall 2019.


  • Patricia Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law, participated in a round table discussion with Pap Ndiaye and journalist Balla Fofana, on the black experience in France and the United States. The talk was held in conjunction with the Black Dolls exhibit at La Maison rouge curated by Nora Philippe. See the video of the talk here. 


  • In September 2018, we inaugurated our series “Borderline” with a performance by Ré-Creation by Loba at the Paris Center. The performance was followed by a round table discussion with Mathilde Delespine, a midwife at the Maison des Femmes in Saint Denis; dancer-choreographers Sandra Sainte Rose and Bintou Dembélé; and author-filmmaker Nora Philippe. Ghada Hatem, founder of the La Maison des femmes, joined the discussion via Skype. The discussion centered around empowering women to reappropriate their bodies, their stories and their place in public space through dance and other forms of artistic expression. Read more about it here and listen to the podcast.


Columbia Sounds

The Paris Center has entered the third season of the Columbia Sounds concert series organized by the incomparable Susan Boynton , professor of Music and resident director of the Institute for Ideas and Imagination, who has carved out a real niche in the Paris contemporary music scene by bringing musicians and composers from Columbia to perform and share their works with French audiences.


This year we also look forward to bringing more programming focusing on women and led by women. Make sure to sign up for our event newsletter to learn more!