Cathy J. Cohen

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Cathy J. Cohen (born 1962) is an American author, feminist and social activist whose work has focused on the African-American experience in politics from a perspective which is underlined by intersectionality. A former Director of the Center for the Study of Race (2002–05), she is currently David and Mary Winton Green Professor in Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago. She received her BA from Miami University, Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1993 and began her academic career at Yale University where she received tenure. Cohen joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 2002.[1]

Cohen frequently writes and speaks about gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, and their interrelatedness and connection to power. This approach puts her in a class of leftist intellectuals who work to have social and public policy influence on the lives of marginalized groups in a positive way.[citation needed] Cohen, a black lesbian and a parent, is the principal researcher on the Black Youth Project, and is the author of Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and The Future of American Politics and Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics among others.[2] She is also the co-author of a study on New Media and Youth Political Action, which is part of the Youth and Participatory Politics survey project.[3]

Her book Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics explores how issues such as age, gender, sexuality and the growing AIDs epidemic shape the acceptance boundaries within the African-American community.[4] She was also on the board of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press as well as the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) at CUNY.[5] Along with Kathleen Jones and Joan Tronto, Cohen is a co-editor of Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader (NYU, 1997).[6] She has received a number of awards,[7] including the Robert Wood Johnson Investigator’s Award,[8] and the Robert Wood Johnson Scholars in Health Policy Research Fellowship.

Cohen is one of the founding board members of the Audre Lorde Project and is active in a number of organizations working on social justice issues. She moderated the plenary of the Applied Research Center's 2010 conference "Popularizing Racial Justice", and has served as secretary of the American Political Science Association.[9][10] Cohen has also been member of the Black Radical Congress, African American Women in Defense of Ourselves and the United Coalition Against Racism. She currently serves as a board member of the Arcus Foundation and of the University of Chicago’s four charter schools.

Cohen is the recipient of two research grants from the Ford Foundation for her work as principal investigator of the Black Youth Project and the Mobilization, Change and Political and Civic Engagement Project. Cohen serves on a number of national and local advisory boards and is the co-editor with Frederick Harris of a book series at Oxford University Press entitled "Transgressing Boundaries: Studies in Black Politics and Black Communities".[11][12]

In 2013, Cohen gave the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture at Gustavus Adolphus College. Her lecture was entitled “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Age of Obama: Building a New Movement for the 21st Century”.[13] In her article "Still Waiting for a Comprehensive Discussion of Urban Gun Violence" Cohen praises the Obama Administration's efforts to end gun violence.[14]

Cohen wrote "Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?," published in 1997. In her writing, Cohen asserts that queer communities and queer politics she has encountered re-solidify heteronormative institutions. Cohen suggests that queer politics should focus less on queerness and more on creating solidarity across many forms of oppression. By placing queerness at the forefront of identity, queer politics reiterates a space that privileges whiteness and the upper class. Cohen asserts that queer communities need to focus efforts on forming solidarity across many histories of oppression.[15]

In "Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens, I definitely see that white feminism and white queer movements get most of the attention and love and generally the blacks/people of color don’t and are forgotten. I also found Lorde’s piece to be interesting, in her piece she talks about eroticism and how it can be a form of power and that sex shaming is a tool that can and does take power away from the women.[16]

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  1. ^ ""Cathy J. Cohen, Secretary - University of Chicago", American Political Science Association (APSA)". Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Conference Speech". 2009-06-26. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Cathy J. Cohen on youth political action and new media". June 26, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  4. ^ Cathy Cohen. "The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics". University of Chicago Press. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Black Youth Project Research (Cathy J Cohen)". Retrieved November 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Cathy J. Cohen, Secretary | APSA". Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Cathy J. Cohen". Retrieved November 4, 2013. 
  8. ^ "The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation". Retrieved November 4, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Video Interview". Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Facing Race in the Tea Party Era" Making Contact, produced by National Radio Project. November 30, 2010.
  11. ^ Cohen, Cathy. "Cathy J. Cohen". blackyouthproject. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  12. ^ Cohen, Cathy (June 4, 2011). "University of Chicago Interview: Cathy Cohen, "Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics"". National Cable Satellite Corporation. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  13. ^ Thomas, Matt (December 17, 2012). "Dr. Cathy J. Cohen to Give Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture". 
  14. ^ Cohen, Cathy (February 14, 2013). "Still Waiting for a Comprehensive Discussion on Urban Gun Violence". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  15. ^ Cohen, Cathy J. (May 1997). "Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics". GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (3(4)): 437–465. 
  16. ^ Cohen. Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens. 

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