End of Semester Wrap Up

Hey y’all! It’s been a minute. This has been an incredibly dense year and I am proud to say I survived it. I finished my fall semester of my third year in my PhD in anthropology at NYU and I’m tired! Although this was supposed to be the first real “in-person” semester, I must have spent at least half it Zooming in because of how sick I was throughout and how many speaking engagements I was apart of.

When breaks in the academic year come around, I rarely take time to stop and celebrate myself. Instead of resting, I want to go go go and move onto the next thing. In an attempt to really embrace slowing down, resting, and reflecting, I am using this post to stop and celebrate myself and let you all know a little bit about what I’ve been up to this semester.

Conference Tour

Seattle, WA
Nadia at a podium presenting her film at the American Anthropological Association 2022 Annual Meeting. Projected next to her on a screen is the opening scene with Nadia dancing.
Nadia at a podium presenting her film at the American Anthropological Association 2022 Annual Meeting. Projected next to her on a screen is the opening scene with Nadia dancing.

I took my first solo trip (without the baby) to Seattle, WA for the American Anthropological Association 2022 Annual Meeting where I presented my research and screened my short film An Astrological Diagnosis as part of my work as a SVA/Lemelson Foundation Fellow. Throughout the process of making and presenting this film I have become more comfortable being “out” with my bipolar diagnosis in academic spaces. I felt encouraged that my liv(ing) experience with bipolar is part of what makes me a great artist and scholar.

Mexico (in spirit)
A selfie Nadia posted on her Instagram story after presenting. The text reads,"I  did it without having a coughing fit!"
A selfie Nadia posted on her Instagram story after presenting. The text reads,”I did it without having a coughing fit!”

I was SO ready to go to Mexico for the 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science) conference where I was to present on a panel titled “COVID and Cripistemology: Disability and Knowledge During a Pandemic.” My presentation was titled, “Pandemic Parenting and Psychiatric Disability: Mad/Cripistemology At The Intersection Of Reproduction And Global Mental Health.” I had been sick for three weeks prior to my flight to Mexico City. I was hopeful that I would recover, but I was coughing, congested, and barely had a voice the day before my flight. Thankfully the conference was accessible via Zoom and I was able to be in Mexico in spirit. I paced myself and took lots of sips of water throughout my presentation. I had someone on standby ready to read for me if I went into a coughing fit, but thankfully it did not come to that!

Birth Equity Scholar

A graphic with six head shots of Black scholars reads, "Welcome! Birth Equity Research Scholars Cohort 3."
A graphic with six head shots of Black scholars reads, “Welcome! Birth Equity Research Scholars Cohort 3.”
A head shot of Nadia with a quote about Nadia's vision for birth equity. The quote reads, "In my vision for birth equity all Black birthing people and their infants not only survive childbirth, but they have mental health affirming pregnancies and postpartum recoveries. My work strives towards a stigma-free world in which Black parents feel safe enough to share their mental health challenges without fear of retribution. As a birth equity fellow, I  aim to collaborate in reimagining maternal mental health services so Black birthing people, babies, and Black families can stay together and thrive.
A head shot of Nadia with a quote about Nadia’s vision for birth equity.

This semester I started my work as a Birth Equity Scholar with the National Birth Equity Collaborative. If you would have told me at the beginning of my PhD program that I would be a part of an organization of Black scholars working towards birth equity who would pay me (while I’m still a student) and give me a 401k I would not have believed you. The work has barely begun but I am so excited to be a part of this organization focusing my energy on Black maternal mental health for the next two years!

Artist Advocates in Residency Program

I got an email over the summer telling me I had been nominated for the New Yorkers for Culture & Arts’ Artist Advocates in Residence. It is a five month program with a cohort of four artist-advocates where we meet biweekly and are provided a stipend. I had never heard of this before so I was skeptical at first. I also did not think I was worthy of this nomination.

Given that my work has never fit inside neat categories, I’ve always felt insecure about labeling myself. I would tell myself, “I came to my dance practice late so I’m not a real dancer.” Or, “I taught myself how to shoot and edit so I’m not a real photographer or filmmaker.” I thought, “My political engagement does not look like protesting in the streets or engaging with politicians on social justice issues so I’m not a real advocate.” And the list goes on…

But being a part of this cohort was one of the most rewarding parts of my semester. It was a space where I could meet with other artists and not only share my work, but discuss how the day-to-day minutiae of life, like illness, rest, and parenting, is all part of my advocacy and artistic practice. Every meeting, I came as I was and talked about the aspects of my life that were seemingly unrelated to art and advocacy. It’s been healing to have a refuge from the hyper-productivity and performativity of academia and be in a space that primarily aims to support and encourage me and validate the work that I’m doing.

Wrap Up

There is so much more I could talk about (including the bad) but I wanted to stick with highlights. This winter break I am really going to challenge myself to lean into rest (which is SUPER uncomfortable for me!). This means I am going to get into my hobbies, dive back into blogging, and do anything that gets me out of my head and back in my body. Stay tuned!


Image Description: Sitting in the green outdoors, a Black person joyfully throws sheets of paper into the air.

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