When we think of feminist activism, one of the most profound and overlooked contributions to the Women’s Movement has been the institutionalization of Women’s Studies. But there is also a growing fear of what institutionalization has done to the Women’s Movement. While the beginnings of Women’s Studies seem to have “done something” and “gone somewhere,” the political present is often seen as fractured and without direction. This fear started to manifest itself at a time when scholarship on race, the transnational and the postcolonial began to take center stage in Women’s Studies. Although we have more and more Women’s Studies courses on race, these courses (and the bodies hired to teach these courses) are often placed in a difficult position. In this talk, Sonja Thomas gives an overview of the racism embedded in the discipline of Women’s Studies. How does institutionalized racism continue to haunt feminist knowledge production? What are the realities faced by Women’s Studies students with our current curricula? And how do we view feminists who teach courses on race in the discipline of Women’s Studies?
Sonja Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Colby College. At Colby, she teaches courses on Feminist Theory, Gender and Human Rights, Critical Race Feminisms and Tap Dance and Gender and Politicized Religion. As a visiting scholar at Lehigh University, she is currently working on a book which examines the tensions between the protection of religious minority rights and women’s rights in postcolonial South Asia.