Thursday, September 26, 2019,
Diamond / 123 Seminar Room

In this talk, I examine caste, race, and South Asian feminisms/South Asian feminists’ “place” in the discipline of Women’s Studies. I provide a brief history of the discipline by looking at the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) and the “racist ghosts” that have haunted the field. Today, women of color feminisms is (seemingly) centered in Women’s Studies and changes to the leadership and content of NWSA’s annual conferences are a benchmark of this (so-called) progress narrative in Women’s Studies. However, I question the addition of certain privileged bodies who count as “women of color” in the white Western academy in the form of transnational diversity hires of dominant caste South Asian feminists. As Rachel Lee has argued, bodies of color often stand in as a commitment to women of colors’ bodies of knowledges providing a racial alibi for the entire field. Drawing from my research on caste and race in India, I then air some dirty laundry–getting into nitty gritty academic feminist gatekeeping politics–to unpack assumptions that circle around who gets to access, draw from, claim, and/or mobilize “woman of color” as category.

Public event