The Department of Women’s & Gender Studies
(WGS) in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences is having another banner year. Several of its professors—Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Dana Olwan, Pedro DiPietro, Himika Bhattacharya, and Minnie Bruce Pratt—have been recognized for their contributions to feminist scholarship.
“Each of these faculty members challenges interconnected systems of oppression in their work," says Vivian May
, associate professor and chair of WGS. "As scholar-educators, they draw on intersectional and transnational approaches to find ways to contest injustice and to seek a more just world."
Chandra Talpade Mohanty
is Distinguished Professor of WGS and Dean’s Professor of the Humanities. Last month, she was invited to speak at Rice University, as part of its prestigious graduate colloquia series
in the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.
Mohanty’s presentation, “Confronting Capitalist Legacies: Transnational Feminist Reflections on Neoliberalism and Radical Praxis,” drew on her expertise in the politics of neoliberalism in the academy and social movements.
“Neoliberal discursive landscapes in the academy and in state and transnational governance practices are characterized by the privatization
of the social justice commitments of the post-1960s radical social movements and their attendant insurgent knowledges,” she says. “Privatizing commitments to race, class, and gender justice means removing the social significance of racism, classism, or heterosexism as institutionalized systems of power and inequality from the public domain, substituting individual prejudice and psychological dispositions, or expressions, of hate
Mohanty considers such privatization as a leading example of a "discursive shift." She continues: “[It exemplifies] a threshold of disappearance, whereby critical feminist epistemological claims regarding experience, like 'the personal is political,' are transformed into privatized notions of individual experience, and political agency is redefined as an act of consumption.”
At Rice, Mohanty also facilitated a graduate seminar on “Pedagogies of Dissent,” drawing on her experiences as a feminist educator at Syracuse. Much of her discussion looked at how theory—feminist or anti-racist or both--is trafficked as a commodity disconnected from its activist moorings and social justice commitments. The seminar also examined creative ways that educators can enact pedagogies of dissent.
Mohanty is a founding member of Syracuse's Democratizing Knowledge
(DK) Collective and is co-principal investigator with Linda Carty, professor of African American studies, of the Mellon-funded DK project, “Just Academic Spaces: Creating New Publics Through Radical Literacies