Janice Haaken, Professor of Psychology at Portland State University, clinical psychologist and social justice activist, focuses much of her work on feminist and psychoanalytic cultural studies. She has written extensively on women, abuse and the social psychology of storytelling.
Whether studying drag queens, false memories or the wearing of the hijab, Professor Haaken knows that there is always more than meets the eye. In her research and in the classroom she continually exposes the framework beneath the surface, questions the context surrounding the analysis and uncovers multiple meanings. Her acclaimed book, Pillar of Salt: Gender, Memory, and the Perils of Looking Back, examines the phenomenon of recovered memories.
Portland State University students consistently work on a range of intellectual projects with faculty, and Professor Haaken bases many of her projects on work initiated by student research teams. A film project completed by her class in 2001 inspired her recent film "Queens of Heart," co-produced with Wendy Kohn, president of Kwamba Productions. The documentary, projected to have its initial screening in November of 2005, details the world of drag queens and explores how gender codes are changing in our society.
A multimedia, social action research project on women and war is coming out summer 2005. It includes a video documentary and companion curriculum guide. The film "Diamonds, Guns and Rice: Sierra Leone and the Women's Peace Movement," was completed in collaboration with students and with Flying Focus Video Collective, a local social-change organization. The curriculum guide, Speaking Out: Women, War and the Global Economy, and the documentary film were based on consultations with Sierra Leonean peace activists living in West Africa and the U.S.
Currently Professor Haaken is completing a book, Hard Knocks: Dynamics of Storytelling and the Battered Women's Movement, based on extensive research on domestic violence in five countries
As Haaken explains, "Much of my work is bringing into view cultural practices that aren't always taken seriously." Her students learn to probe those practices for the complexities they conceal.