Chen Speaks on ‘Masks’

By Joana Moreno

Dr. Mel Chen, an assistant professor in the Department of Gender and Womens’ Studies at UC- Berkley, spoke on campus on Jan. 19. Håer lecture “Masks and the Line Between Security and Disability” dealt with the importance and effects of masks in society.
The inspiration to study masks came from a personal experience in which Chen herself had to wear one.

“It was brought on the urge to study reigning western hierarchies by which this stuff gets radicalized, conceptualized and made non-disabled or disabled,” Chen said.

Chen used photos to present her analysis. The presentation opened with an image featuring a surgical mask and ended with images of the movie “Dexter”, displaying the variety of her research.

“Masks can be seen as good things, they can be seen as bad things. Sometimes whether they are a threat or malevolent has to do with the issue of race, nation and place,” Chen said.

The presentation closed with a brief question and answer session that sparked a variety of conversation topics, such as the use of make-up as a mask.

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