Engaging Tradition Project
With the support of a $1.5 million grant from the Arcus Foundation, the Engaging Tradition Project studies how the ideas of tradition are deployed both to undermine and support gender and sexuality-based social justice projects. A critical goal of the Engaging Tradition Project is to better enable advocates working for sexual, gender, racial, and economic justice to resist tradition-based objections—whether derived from religion, custom, history, gender role stereotyping, forms of family, or identity and nationalism. For more information see the project’s press release.
Staff and Consultants
Director: Urvashi Vaid
Urvashi Vaid brings a distinguished record of service in legal, LGBT, and philanthropic organizations. Vaid is a former staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project and the former executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, whose think tank she also directed. An experienced executive with the Ford Foundation and the Arcus Foundation, Vaid served as deputy director of Ford’s Governance and Civil Society Unit, and as executive director of Arcus. Vaid is the author of Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation, a groundbreaking analysis of the political strategies and frames of the LGBT movement, and co-editor with John D’Emilio and William Turner of an anthology of histories of key LGBT policy wins, titled Creating Change: Public Policy, Sexuality and Civil Rights.
Visiting Professor: Dean Spade
Dean Spade is an Academic Fellow in the Engaging Tradition Project at Columbia Law School 2012 to 2014. He is an associate professor at the Seattle University School of Law. Prior to joining the faculty of Seattle University, Dean was a Williams Institute Law Teaching Fellow at UCLA Law School and Harvard Law School, teaching classes related to sexual orientation and gender identity law and law and social movements.
In 2002, Dean founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a nonprofit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. SRLP also engages in litigation, policy reform, and public education on issues affecting these communities and operates on a collective governance model, prioritizing the governance and leadership of trans, intersex, and gender variant people of color. While working at SRLP, Dean taught classes focusing on sexual orientation, gender identity and law at Columbia and Harvard Law Schools.
Dean was recently awarded a Dukeminier Award for his 2008 article “Documenting Gender” and the 2009-2010 Haywood Burns chair at CUNY Law School, and was selected to give the 2009-2010 James A. Thomas Lecture at Yale. His 2011 book, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.
Research Consultant: Michael Edwards
Michael Edwards is an independent writer and activist based in upstate New York who is affiliated with the New York-based think-tank Demos, and the Brooks World Poverty Institute at Manchester University in the U.K. From 1999 to 2008, he was the director of the Ford Foundation's Governance and Civil Society Program in New York, having previously worked for the World Bank, Oxfam-GB, Save the Children-UK and other NGOs in Washington D.C., London, Colombia, Zambia, Malawi, and India. His writings have helped to shape a more critical appreciation of the global role of philanthropy and civil society, and to break down barriers between researchers and activists across the world. For more information, visit www.futurepositive.org
To be announced.