The Perils of Populism: Feminist Conversations

The IRW hosts feminist researchers from around the world as Visiting Scholars, enabling them to pursue their own research and writing in a supportive environment while accessing Rutgers’ unique feminist resources. Visiting Scholars participate in the IRW seminar, present public lectures and speak in classes throughout the university.

 Basuli Deb
"Indigenous Lives and Diasporic Aspirations"

basulidebMy current monograph project Indigenous Lives and Diasporic Aspirations examines the heteropatriarchal politics of legislative and technological control of indigenous and immigrant communities in settler colonial security regimes. Situating literature, films, images, legal, prison, and administrative documents, media, and social media within a transnational and queer of color feminist frame, it extends the inquiry into states of exception vis-a-vis terrorism at home and abroad initiated by my previous monograph Transnational Feminist Perspectives on Terror in Literature and Culture (2014).....I use narratives and images of indigeneity and immigration in South Africa, India, and the United States to revise the dominant frame of transnational feminist and queer praxis around international and national security that advocates for border crossing without recognizing that “the land of immigrants” is a settler colonial myth that erases indigenous claims to land. I propose an alternative paradigm for transnational feminist and queer justice that includes the original inhabitants of the land in a discourse and praxis of affiliation and community where the indigenous and the diasporic intersect.

Basuli Deb has a Ph.D. in English from Michigan State University and teaches at Queens College, CUNY



Maria Cecilia Hwang
"Mixing Work and Pleasure in Hong Kong: Women’s Migration, Sex Work, Border Control, and the Politics of Trafficking"

Maria Hwang smallSituated in the intersection of gender, sexuality, and migration studies, my research examines the labor migration of independent women sex workers from the Philippines who circulate across Asian global cities, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Macao, and Kuala Lumpur. I examine how their status as unauthorized migrant workers and their position in the informal labor market are constituted by state regimes that accordingly shape their experiences. These state regimes include migration, anti-trafficking, and anti-prostitution policies of sending and receiving states. My analysis draws from 13 months of ethnographic research that involves shadowing migrant workers in nightclubs and migrant housing in Hong Kong from 2010 to 2013; 49 in-depth interviews with sex workers from the Philippines; and supplemental interviews with clients, migration intermediaries, and immigration officials; and discourse analysis of migration and anti-trafficking policies. My research illustrates the gendered construction of migrant sex workers as "illegal migrants" and their consequent experiences in the shadow of illegality. Critical findings from my research establish how women’s unauthorized migration can result not in their unintended settlement in a host country but instead in their precarious transnational transient mobility; demonstrate the significance of state emigration policies in shaping migration experiences, in particular how the regulation of emigration by the Philippine government results in the gendered construction of women as “undocumented workers”; and empirically illustrate how anti-trafficking regimes limit the free movement of women more so than men. 

Maria Cecilia Hwang is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at Brown University



Voichita Nachescu
"Populism, Transnational Whiteness, and Contemporary Eastern European Immigrants in the United States"

Voichita NachescuContemporary right-wing populism situates race at its core, appealing to whites who perceive themselves as being disenfranchised. Given that race in the United States is a construct under constant revision, I examine the position of contemporary Eastern European immigrants toward whiteness and contemporary populism. If during the great wave of migration to the United States at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century, Eastern Europeans were considered undesirable immigrants (although white and thus eligible for citizenship, unlike their Asian counterparts), a century later, while still experiencing xenophobia, Eastern Europeans are more likely to be accepted, given that they are classified as white.

Voichita Nachescu has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo