Prof. Rupal Oza is the director of the Women and Gender Studies program at Hunter College, CUNY. In our Q&A below, Rupal reveals a little about who she is, what she does, and how she does it as a feminist geographer. Her professional website is listed below.
Write a brief summary about you and your work/interests/research.
My first book examined globalization in India at the time when India liberalized its economy in 1991. In the book, I looked at how globalization was debated through three sites of public date through the decade of the 1990s. These debates intertwined a rising aspirational middle class, the Hindu right wing, and political economic changes through the lens of gender and sexuality. Since then, as any other scholar, my work has shifted and changed. I have worked on the link between U.S., India and Israel post 9/11 and the manner in which a perverse alliance formed between them through a shared discourse of the Muslim male terrorist. More recently I’ve written on ‘Muslim fundamentalism’ and liberal feminist engagements.
Q. What are you working on right now?
A. I am working on a few different projects: One a collection with Minelle Mahtani on gender, race and geography. Second I’m looking at land acquisition and the construction of value in Kutch Gujarat. I am also collaborating with a feminist legal scholar on an essay on drones.
Q. Why feminist geography?
A. Bringing feminism and geographic understanding of space together offers interesting and provocative ways to consider issues of location, relationship between ‘the West and the rest,’ solidarity, and imperialism.
Q. What was the name of the last scholarly article or book you read?
A. I just finished reading and teaching Lila Abu-Lughod’s wonderful new book, ‘Do Muslim women need saving.’ Harvard University Press, 2013.
Q. What was you favorite class ever?
A. Wow – not sure, because I don’t think an entire class was ever that profound. But I did learn a lot from a rich cohort and some teachers that helped a naïve girl navigate the academy. And that learning helps me now see, from the other side, that despite the incredible privilege of being faculty, how alienating the academy is.
Q. What is your must read classic?
A. The stuff that I think about these days is how large patterns of violent disenfranchisement manifest at different scales. So what I am reading now is Giovanni Arrighi’s ‘Long Twentieth Century’ which as it was written in 1994, I suppose makes it a classic. But really there is so much more…. feminists texts in particular… that a list is challenging let alone a single text.
Q. Do you have any piece of advice for emerging scholars?
A. Find a cohort of friends and supporters who ‘get your back’ and perhaps a wonderful generous mentor who can be called on for support and help.
Q. What do you hope to get out of the Feminist Geography Conference?
A. Conversations, collaboration, change.
Want to know more about Rupal Oza’s research and work? Visit her professional website: Rupal Oza