A Clayton State University faculty member and a student in the University’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program will be making presentations at the Women & Girls in Georgia Conference on Saturday, Oct. 2. Sara Martin (Newnan), is a currently in the MALS program while Anna King (Jonesboro) is one of the first graduates of the MALS program and a part-time member of the English Department faculty at Clayton State.
The Institute for Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia sponsors this annual one-day conference in Athens, Ga. Applicants for presentations for the conference were required to submit an abstract of 300 words about their topic, and then waited to be notified if their work was accepted.
Martin’s presentation discusses the issues relating to a woman's freedom of religion versus national security interests.
“In my paper I study how influential national security is on the right of Muslim women to practice veiling within the U.S. Court cases in both Florida and Pennsylvania since the attacks on 9/11 are analyzed within the body of the work,” she says. “The arguments made in both cases surround a woman's right to wear her veil and the court's insistence that such a right is not always in the best interest of maintaining a national security state.
“Though the women should be protected by the First Amendment, since all are citizens, the presence of a heightened national security interest allows these rights to be vacated. The veil has become symbolic of fundamentalist Islamic hatred toward the U.S. through its objectification during the Bush administration. American history in the realm of religious tolerance is discussed as well as the dominant Protestant culture America, which continues the cycle of discrimination against minority religions. These patterns of discourse, along with the fear tactics used by the Bush administration, help to explain how these rights are neglected during times of national crisis. They also help to explain the objectification of the veil for the purposes of executive driven agendas.”
King’s presentation is based on research of 1913 court case.
“Helen Dortch Longstreet, wife of Confederate general James Longstreet, led a campaign against the construction of the Tallulah Falls Dam when the Georgia Power and Railway Company -- now Georgia Power -- started to build a dam to harness the hydroelectric power of the falls,” Kings explains. “She lost the case, but won a moral victory in how powerfully she was able to wage her battle -- she had the ear of senators, governors, and the community.”
Both Martin and King feel rewarded in being able to participate at the conference.
“It means a great deal to me to be selected to present at this conference for a number of reasons,” Martin says. “One of the most important reasons is that I have the opportunity to talk about a topic that relates directly to women everywhere. By understanding the reasoning behind government decisions, we, as women, can become empowered with this knowledge and participate in our lives at a much deeper level.
“My abstract was chosen to be published on the Women Advocating for Good Government website to help display the types of research areas engaged within the scope of the conference each year. Last, but not least, I am excited that my 11 year old daughter has chosen to accompany me to the conference as I hope she will benefit from this experience in a way that will enable her to challenge her friends to become active participants in their own lives.”
For King, who also holds a B.A. from Clayton State, and is one of the University’s most-accomplished master’s graduates as a published poet, being involved in the conference means that she is still actively pursuing a role in the academic community.
“I'm in the process of applying to graduate schools, and during the waiting period between now and hopefully beginning a Ph.D., I promised myself I would not be stagnant,” she says. “I'm very passionate about women's studies, even though history is not my area of expertise -- poetry is. This work represents my versatility within academia, as well as my commitment to producing valuable research in any area I'm assigned.”