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Join us for a discussion with Sadia Abbas, Nayan Shah & Charu Gupta on the notions of health & disease & their historic relations to sex.

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The Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality at Ashoka University, and the Center for Study of Gender and Sexuality at New York University jointly present their new 2020 webinar series called Theory and Practice: Transnational Conversations on Gender and Sexuality (TAP). TAP brings to you scholars and activists from around the world who can speak with one another about ideas of gender and sexuality. As the ongoing pandemic unfurls new dimensions of gender and sexuality, it also reminds us of how old these aspects might be. This series brings together a range of thinkers to address global questions of politics, rhetoric, and history.

This second webinar in the series will focus on Colonialism, Sex, Disease. Given the cultural politics surrounding Covid-19 – the racialized health disparities it lays bare, the anxieties around intimacy and contact that it generates – this session will seek to provide a longer historical arc through which to view the current crisis. We will explore the complex ways in which understandings of health, disease, and contagion have been inextricable from anxieties around race and sex, and the sex of the “other” in particular.  In so doing we will contextualize the current crisis and trace its pre-history to earlier moments of cultural anxiety around race, sex, disease, and contagion.

For this session, we will be joined by Professor Sadia Abbas from Rutgers University (U.S.A.), Professor Nayan Shah from University of Southern California (U.S.A.) and Professor Charu Gupta from University of Delhi (India).

The session will be moderated by Professor Gayatri Gopinath, Director, CSGS NYU, who will enable a conversation between the three speakers for 40 minutes, followed by a 20 minutes Q&A with the audience.

Sadia Abbas is an Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark. She specializes in postcolonial literature and theory, the culture and politics of Islam in modernity, early modern English literature, and the history of 20th-century criticism. She publishes both scholarly monographs and creative work. Her first book, At Freedom’s Limit: Islam and the Postcolonial Predicament (2014), won an MLA First Book Prize. Her second book The Empty Room (2017) is her first novel, and is set in 1970s Karachi in the decade leading up to and overlapping with the Zia dictatorship. Her latest book Shahzia Sikander: Extraordinary Realities is a co-edited anthology on the work of the Pakistani-American visual artist Shahzia Sikander. Abbas is currently working on a book on Hellenism and Postcolonialism, tentatively titled Space in Another Time, along with a second novel. 

Charu Gupta teaches at the Department of History, University of Delhi. She was recently a Visiting Professor and ICCR Chair at the University of Vienna. She has also been a Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi; the Social Science Research Council, New York; the Asian Scholarship Foundation, Thailand; the Wellcome Institute, London, and the University of Oxford. She is the author of Sexuality, Obscenity, Community: Women, Muslims and the Hindu Public in Colonial India, and The Gender of Caste: Representing Dalits in Print. She is also the editor of Gendering Colonial India: Reforms, Print, Caste and Communalism. She has published several papers in national-international journals on themes of sexualities, masculinities, caste and religious identities. She is presently working on life narratives in Hindi in early twentieth century north India.

Nayan Shah is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity and History at the University of Southern California. His  research examines historical struggles over bodies, space and the exercise of state power from the mid- 19th to the 21st century. His scholarship has contributed to studies of race, sexuality and gender and to the history of migration, health, law and governance. Shah is the author of two award-winning books - Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West (2011) and Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown (2001). Professor Shah's new project on The Refusal to Eat: A Century of Hunger Striking Prisoners’ Voices Against Prison Power, explores the transnational history of hunger strikes, political struggle and medical crises in the 20th and 21st century —  U.S. and British suffrage activists, Irish Republicans, Indian Revolutionaries and Activists, Japanese American prisoners, South African anti-apartheid activists, Palestinian detainees, Guantanamo prisoners and refugees in Australia, US. and Europe.

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