Global Scholars

2020-2021 IRW Global Scholars Call - Knowing Bodies: Science and the Sex/Gender Distinction

Each year, the Institute for Research on Women (IRW) invites several individuals to join us as IRW Global Scholars for four to nine months. While Global Scholars are expected to provide their own funding, IRW offers office space, institutional affiliation, access to the Rutgers library, and participation in a lively interdisciplinary feminist community. The theme for our discussions during the 2020-2021 academic year will be “Knowing Bodies: Science and the Sex/Gender Distinction.” We invite applications from university-based scholars and scholar/activists whose work is compatible with the theme.

About the IRW

IRW promotes innovative scholarship on women, gender, and sexuality through interdisciplinary forums, lectures, and conferences. IRW’s weekly seminar allows Global Scholars to discuss drafts of their work with Rutgers faculty and graduate students, all of whom are working on writing projects related to the annual theme. In addition, our Global Scholar Program provides an opportunity for postdoctoral scholars and activists to benefit from Rutgers’ unique resources related to the study of women and gender. The IRW is a member of the Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL), a consortium of 9 different Rutgers units focused on women and gender, also including Douglass Residential College, the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, the Center for American Women and Politics, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, the Center for Women and Work, the Center on Violence against Women and Children, the Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities, and the Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering and Mathematics.

IRW Global Scholars

IRW Global Scholars typically hold jobs or academic appointments elsewhere but wish to be in residence at the institute for a semester or a year. Global Scholars do not receive any financial support from Rutgers or the IRW, but we are happy to arrange access to university libraries and recreational facilities, provide private or shared office space, and extend invitations to participate in university lectures, colloquia, and seminars. Scholars also receive university email accounts and modest photocopying and long-distance telephone support. Former IRW Scholars have received funding through Fulbright, IREX, other local foundations, and their own institutions. University regulations limit our ability to accept applicants who are not funded through their home institutions or through external grants, fellowships and awards, but we can usually accept one scholar in this situation per academic year.

We invite applications from prospective scholars whose individual research or activism is compatible with the theme of our interdisciplinary research seminar. We expect that Global Scholars will participate in the weekly seminar along with Rutgers faculty and graduate students whose work explores the seminar theme from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. We also anticipate that Global Scholars will attend the events in our Distinguished Lecture Series on the same theme.

IRW Interdisciplinary Research Seminar

The distinction between sex and gender, nature and culture, has provided a foundation for feminist thought and activism over the past half-century. Today, however, this distinction is increasingly being called into question. Across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, many now ask whether biology and culture are truly distinct phenomena. Scholars are also calling into question the idea that one can even think about “sex” without gender or race. Clearly, the meaning of the sex/gender distinction has shifted over time, as different generational cohorts have revised their understandings in relation to expert knowledge, emergent sensibilities, and dissident worldviews. This IRW seminar considers conversations about gender, bodies, and science through the prism of cultural and generational change, exploring the growing complexity of how we understand sex, gender, and sexuality.

Studies may examine any time period(s) or geographical location(s) and be rooted in any disciplinary or interdisciplinary approach(es). Some possible topics relevant to the seminar theme include, but are not limited to:

  • Feminist genealogies and the sex/gender distinction
  • Subjectivity and the body
  • Medicalization
  • Lay expertise and the challenge to science
  • Sex, gender, and racial differences in scientific knowledge and biomedical research
  • Trans embodiment
  • Feminism, the LGBTQ movement, and popular attitudes toward medicine and the body
  • The gender politics of psychoanalysis
  • Neuropsychoanalysis
  • Gender and the aging body
  • The politics of cosmetic and gender-affirming surgery
  • Gender and the pharmaceutical industry
  • The science and politics of reproductive and sexual health
  • Changing socio-legal understandings of bodies

Application Procedures

Postdoctoral scholars working in any discipline may apply. Applications should be sent by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with “Global Scholars” in the subject line. They should include the following: letter of intent specifying project title and proposed dates of visit; project description (five pages maximum, double-spaced); curriculum vitae and email address; names and contact information of four professional references. Prospective global scholars are invited to discuss the relevance of their project to “Knowing Bodies: Science and the Sex/Gender Distinction” as part of their application. Applicants interested in further information about this program or the IRW are invited to visit our website or contact the institute by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or phone (848-932-9072). The deadline to apply is rolling but please note that space is limited and fills up fast.