Each year, the Institute for Research on Women (IRW) invites several individuals to join us as IRW Visiting Scholars for four to nine months. While Visiting 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 2022-2023 academic year will be “Care.” 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 Visiting 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 Visiting 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 10 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 Visiting Leadership, the Center for Women and Work, the Center on Violence against Women and Children, the Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities, the Center for Women in Business, and the Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering and Mathematics.

IRW Visiting Scholars

IRW Visiting Scholars typically hold jobs or academic appointments elsewhere but wish to be in residence at the institute for a semester or a year. Visiting 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 severely limit our ability to accept applicants who are not funded through their home institutions or through external grants, fellowships and awards.

We invite applications from prospective scholars whose individual research or activism is compatible with the theme of our interdisciplinary research seminar. We expect that Visiting 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 Visiting Scholars will attend the events in our Distinguished Lecture Series on the same theme.

IRW Interdisciplinary Research Seminar - Care

Care work is essential work. It enables us to raise children and support the sick and disabled. It is the hidden backbone of our economy and our society. While care is necessary for the survival of our families, our communities, and the species, national leaders rarely prioritize care, and many are downright hostile to it. Witness the Trump administration’s policy of forcibly separating children from their parents at the Texas-Mexico border, and former First Lady Melania Trump’s jacket proclaiming “I really don't care, do you?” on visiting children in an immigrant detention center.

In contrast to this performance of callous disregard, care has long been a focus for feminists. In the 1980s, psychologist Carol Gilligan argued that women and girls were more likely to employ an “ethic of care” which made them attentive to the needs of others. Similarly, Sara Ruddick argued that “maternal thinking,” a set of values and ethical judgments derived from the ties between mother and child, should inform feminist models of ethics, politics, and policy. Another strain in feminist thinking about care foregrounds women’s domestic labor, which tends to be un- or undercompensated. According to feminist economist Ipek Ilkkaracan, women’s unpaid care work, including household production, and volunteer and community work, encompasses over 16 billion hours per day, or approximately 2 billion full-time jobs. The language of care can obscure the racialized and gendered power relationships that structure domestic labor and are residues of slavery, writes feminist historian Premilla Nadasen.

Indeed, most domestic workers in the United States are women of color. Debra Lancaster from the Rutgers Center for Women and Work notes that 95 percent of home health aides in NJ are women, more than half are immigrants, and more than 70 percent are Black or Latina. Paid care workers, such as home health aides who care for the sick and the elderly, are among the lowest paid workers. Increasingly, low-income women from the Visiting South leave their families to care for the children of more affluent families in the Visiting North. As Rhacel Salazar Parreñas notes, the “international division of reproductive labor” tends to benefit rich countries at the expense of poor countries. When migrant women attempt to provide care for their own children in their countries of origin as well as their employers’ children in the Visiting North, it creates a “care deficit” for the former.

Clearly, care-work is a political matter. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare,” wrote Audre Lorde in 1988. Recently, some have described a “care crisis,” precipitated by the growing pressures on family life, specifically mothers, and exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic. This crisis emerges in relation to the high cost of childcare, the shortage of childcare workers and caregivers for elderly and disabled populations, and the absence of a national childcare policy in US. Still, many low-income families have always been in survival mode. While some seek government solutions, others—often out of necessity—have pursued collective care projects. From STAR house, founded by trans activist Marsha P. Johnson in 1970 to provide sustenance, care, and community for New York City’s trans youth, through the queer communities of care created in response to the AIDS crisis, to the Ballroom communities of the present, care has been an important aspect of queer life. Writing in the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, trans scholar/activist Dean Spade, advocates for mutual aid to help people meet “each other’s needs based in shared commitments to dignity, care, and justice.”  

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:

  • The “care crisis”
  • Racial capitalism, care, and survival
  • Welfare states’ comparative social policies around childcare
  • Impacts of COVID on care work
  • Care and the political imagination
  • Caring as a human rights and humanitarian issue
  • Transformations of masculinity and the work-family divide
  • “Self-care” and the limitations of individualism
  • Demographic shifts and rising demand for paid carers
  • Visitingization of care work
  • Emotional labor and the intimacy of care work
  • Environmental stewardship and caring for non-humans
  • Speculative futures and “planetary care”

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 “Visiting 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 “Care” as part of their application. Applicants interested in further information about this program or the IRW are invited to visit our website http://irw.rutgers.edu or contact the institute by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). The deadline to apply is rolling but please note that space is limited and fills up fast.