The Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Studies at Yale University is pleased to announce that Nessette Falu will be joining LGBT Studies for the 2013-2014 academic year as the next Sarah Pettit Doctoral Fellow. The Fellowship is supported by the Sarah Pettit Fund, which was established in 2003 as a permanent endowment to honor and perpetuate the memory of lesbian activist Sarah Pettit, who earned her BA from Yale in 1988. Pettit died in 2003 in the midst of a high profile career as a writer, editor, and LGBTQ advocate. She was for many years the editor-in-chief and vice president of OUT Magazine, which she co-founded in 1992. In 1999, she was appointed the senior editor of Newsweek’s Arts and Entertainment section. She also served on the advisory board of the New York Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project.
Nessette Falu will be the fourth recipient of this traditionally biennial fellowship that is awarded to a student from an institution other than Yale who is writing a dissertation. She is a PhD Candidate in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at Rice University. She is currently doing dissertation fieldwork in Salvador-Bahia, Brazil. Her research investigates how self-identified black lesbians (lesbicas negras) as ethical subjects draw upon everyday self-advocating and self-legitimizing practices and ways of knowing the self that serve to contest the subjugation of their bodies and sexuality by gynecologists. This study interconnects various angles that pivot the reproduction of preconceito (prejudice) such as the socio-political limitations of Brazilian healthcare reform to combat lesbian discrimination, the entrenched prejudicial attitudes manifesting during gynecological exams, and the thriving and transcending ideas of bem-estar (well-being) and sexual health, broadly, and thereby emerging unspeakable and invisible bio-cultural therapeutic ethics by the informants in this study.
Falu is a graduate certificate student and active member of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Rice. She also worked closely with Race Scholars at Rice, a program that bridges intellectual community and promotes race scholarship and pedagogy. She holds a Masters of Divinity from New York Theological Seminary. She has been a practicing Physician Assistant since 2001—her most recent specialty in HIV medicine. Her hometown is New York City.
She is the recipient of a generous fieldwork grant from the Ruth Landes Memorial Foundation, which included seed funds for media production. At the end of her fieldwork, Nessette will produce a short documentary about the lives of a few lesbicas negras in Salvador with filmmaker, Tiona McClodden and Harriet Gun Media Production.
In the Spring 2014 term, Falu will give a public lecture based on her research and time at Yale. We invite you to watch for more details about the event in due course, and please join us in welcoming Nessette Falu to campus.