Backstage: Exploring Gender and Perception

Interactive discussion on gender perception and performance with academics and activists from Switzerland and the Bay Area.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


June 20, 2015 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)


Advanced tickets $10 , at the door $15, Students free with valid ID

Watch part 2 and part 3 of the Backstage video series on our partner’s website FORA TV.

Join us for an afternoon of discussion around gender perception with academics, activists, artists, and thinkers from Switzerland and the US.

The program is organized in two parts: First, lectures from activists and leading academics in gender/queer research and law. Second, through roundtable discussions, explore the status of gender/queer studies and performance, medical and psychological views of gender, and notions of gender through law and activism that impact LGBT individuals, families, and communities.

Included in the afternoon is a performative lecture by artist Keith Hennessey.

(X)change is a collaboration between the sister cities of Zurich, Switzerland, and San Francisco. It is organized and supported by CounterPulse, zürich moves!, swissnex San Francisco, the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco, the City of Zürich Department of Culture, Presence Switzerland, and Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council.


12:00 pm doors open (lunch provided)
12:15 pm presentations and Q&A
2:00  pm  coffee break
2:30  pm  performance/lecture by Keith Hennessey
3:00 pm  round table discussions
4:30  pm  networking reception
5:00  pm  doors close


Cecilia Chung

Cecilia Chung, Senior Strategist of the Transgender Law Center, is nationally recognized as an advocate for human rights, social justice, health equity, and LGBT equality. She was the former Chair of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and is currently serving on the Health Commission. Cecilia has been working tirelessly on the local, national and international levels to improve access to treatment for transgender people and people living with HIV, and to erase stigma and discrimination through education, policy, advocacy, and visibility.

Dominique Grisard

Dominique Grisard is director of the Swiss Center for Social Research, lecturer in Gender Studies at the University of Basel and Honorary Visiting Fellow at City University London. From 2011 to 2014 she was a Visiting Scholar at London School of Economics, Columbia University, The Graduate Center at the City University of New York, the New School for Social Research, and the University of Chicago. Grisard is presently working on two book-length projects: “Pink,” which weaves a history of gender, sexuality, and (skin) color through and around the color pink (funded by the University of Basel and the Swiss National Science Foundation); a second project entitled “Bedroom Cultures. The Public Life of Intimacy” interrogates changing notions of intimacy and privacy. Her long-standing research interests are the history of terrorism, sexualities and intimacies in prisons, criminology, and popular culture.

In addition, she is preparing the “Skin Color Reader,” an anthology of seminal work on the theme of skin color. Her long-standing research interests have been the history of intimacy and sexuality in 19th to 21st century European prison, criminology, and popular culture.

Jack Halberstam

Jack Halberstam is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Gender Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. Halberstam is the author of five books including: Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Duke UP, 1995), Female Masculinity (Duke UP, 1998), In A Queer Time and Place (NYU Press, 2005), The Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP, 2011) and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2012) and has written articles that have appeared in numerous journals, magazines and collections. Halberstam has co-edited a number of anthologies including Posthuman Bodies with Ira Livingston (Indiana University Press, 1995) and a special issue of Social Text with Jose Munoz and David Eng titled “What’s Queer About Queer Studies Now?”

Jack is a popular speaker and gives lectures around the country and internationally every year. Lecture topics include: queer failure, sex and media, subcultures, visual culture, gender variance, popular film, animation. Halberstam is currently working on several projects including a book titled THE WILD on queer anarchy, performance and protest culture, the visual representation of anarchy and the intersections between animality, the human and the environment.

Keith Hennessey

Keith Hennessy is a performer, choreographer, teacher, writer, and organizer. Born in Sudbury Canada, he lives in San Francisco and tours internationally. His interdisciplinary research engages improvisation, ritual, and public action as tools for investigating political realities. Hennessy directs CIRCO ZERO and was a member of the collaborative performance companies: Contraband (with Sara Shelton Mann), CORE, and Cahin-caha, cirque bâtard. Recent awards include the USA Kjenner Fellowship (2012), a NY Bessie (2009), two Isadora Duncan Awards (2009), and a Goldie (2007). Current projects include Turbulence (a dance about the economy), Almost a duet with Jassem Hindi, Bear/Skin a solo folk dance, and Sara (the smuggler) a solo for Sara Shelton Mann. Recent teaching includes Ponderosa (Germany), Impulstanz (Vienna), AEx-Corps (Dakar), UBC (Kelowna), HZT (Berlin), Sandberg Institute (Amsterdam), Texas Women’s University, and FRESH Festival (SF). Hennessy has an MFA in Choreography and is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at UC Davis.

Cynthia Krauss

Cynthia Krauss is a Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies and the Social Studies of Science and Medicine at the University of Lausanne. She works on the neuroscience of desire and the brain’s role in defining sex, and on topics of sex development disorder (DSD), gender dysphoria, and others. She is also developing a research program that aims to bring the sciences and the clinic together through NeuroGenderings III, a “Dissensus Conference” on the brain and gender.

Her research experience includes fieldwork in a fly genetics laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley (1998-2001), ethnography on the clinical management of intersex in the context of surgical missions in West Africa (2010-2011), and directing a project on the history of the teen brain (April 2011 to August 2014) and the history of sexology (March 2015 to October 2016), funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF).

Marc Streit

Marc Streit was born and raised in Bern, Switzerland. He completed Curatorial Studies at the University of the Arts in Zurich and has been working as curator for several institutions and organizations in research, production, and realization of artistic projects. Collaborations include Fondation Beyeler in Riehen/Basel, Tanzhaus Zürich, Kunstverein Zürich, Kunstraum Walcheturm, Réunion – Random Institute, Riffraff Cinema, Dance Festival Steps by Migros Culture Percentage, The Horse Hospital London, Susanne Bartsch, and most recent with CounterPulse and swissnex San Francisco. Streit initiated the zürich moves! festival for Contemprary Dance and Performance. zürich moves! is an annual, international festival that breaks boundaries between different art forms, creates a new audience outside of an avant-garde community, and focuses on identity and interpersonal perspectives beyond national borders. Together with visual artist Lukas Beyeler, Streit manages and organizes the queer party label KUNT, which produces social experiences that go beyond nightlife culture through art and performance. He is currently the Associate Director at Tanzhaus Zurich.

Mona De Weerdt

Mona De Weerdt studied Theater and Dance Studies, Art History, and World Arts in Bern and Berlin. Since 2012 she has taught at the Institute for Theater Studies at the University of Bern, where she is writing her thesis about the performative negotiation of different concepts of community in contemporary dance improvisations. Besides her academic work, she has been a production manager and dramaturge in the so-called free theater and dance scene in Zurich and in Bern. In 2012 she was a member of the jury at the international Zürcher Theater Spektakel.

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Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos