Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Volume 4, Issue 2
spring 2014
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Craig Canfield
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

PhotoWGSS Chair’s Letter

This will be my last letter to you as Chair of WGSS before I step down from this position. It has been an honor and a pleasure to build the program on the shoulders of others who have chaired WGSS in the past. I have been especially happy to be part of a committed, passionate and thriving group of faculty, students and staff. I want to thank all those who have helped me with building the program: our WGSS faculty (Professors Margaret Homans, Laura Wexler, Marianne La France, and Joseph Fischel), those who took on key roles to serve as DGS (Jill Campbell, Marianne la France), DUS (Maria Trumpler, Melanie Boyd, and Joe Fischel) as well as all those who served on the WGSS Council. Geetanjali Chanda (along with the staff) brought all our news to you serving as editor of our newsletter every semester. Our staff team, Craig Canfield and Linda Hase, and, Graduate student coordinators, have enabled all of us to thrive. Our graduate students created foras for research discussions and formed a thriving intellectual community. The graduate program under the able leadership of DGS Jill Campbell, is now a WGSS Certificate.

As I return to “civilian” life as a faculty member, it will be with the hope that the program continues to grow and the new Yale administration continues to see how important our work remains. While we are interested in questions of equality and non-discrimination, much of the current research in WGSS is also concerned with a broad array of topics that focus on the roles that gender and sexuality play in and across all societies, countries, and regions. Globally and nationally, gender and sexuality remain in the news, from topics such as gay marriage to gender disparities in the tech industry, to key issues of gendered poverty, reproductive rights, affirmative action, and racism. The study of masculinities, femininities, new forms of gender (check out the categories on Facebook that recently came into existence), as well as inequalities, violence, and rights continue to provide topics for our individual research as well as our courses.

My own interests in what are called “transnational” approaches to gender and sexuality have also gained an important place at Yale WGSS, keeping up with research across the field. This means that we examine why, for instance, not only how ideas of genders and sexualities all over the world are not the same, but also how they interact and influence each other. Global networks, colonial histories, wars, migrations, media, social movements all create collaborations and conflicts across the globe and even inside national boundaries. My work has argued that national boundaries are porous, and all kinds of influences from outside permeate our ideas of gender and sexuality–though some become more powerful and influential than others. The recent celebration at Barnard College’s Center for the Study of Women (I wish we had a Center like theirs here at Yale!) of an anthology Scattered Hegemonies that I co-edited 20 years ago on this topic tells me that the interest in this area of research continues to be vital for many younger scholars and graduate students, as we face the inescapable fact that we live in interconnected worlds. We still have work to do at Yale to engage with questions of gender and sexuality outside of Europe or North America–we have too few researchers/faculty working on and across regions, and networks connecting Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America.

At Yale WGSS, our interdisciplinary and transnational approach to complex historical questions and contemporary issues bring us wonderful undergraduate and graduate students. Over the last few years, WGSS majors have won Yale College awards as well as back-to-back Rhodes scholarships, showing their academic brilliance and their ability to analyze and understand a world in which gender is ever changing, and also so diverse in every culture and community. Our students not only have the ability to write, analyze and research but are also able to understand how gender and sexuality enter all kinds of political projects in the world at large; however, they also learn how these concepts impact their daily lives. Local and global, personal and political are intertwined and inextricable. Training future generations of students–across all genders–in WGSS will contribute to improving our world in numerous ways. Our diverse alum profiles also highlight how the methodologies and wide interdisciplinary approaches of our courses prepare students to deal with a variety of people and pursue innovative career paths.

Our partnerships with Women's Faculty Forum, YaleWomen Alumni group, as well as with the LGBT Studies Committee have been a sustaining aspect of our Program, and these connections are only getting stronger.

I am eager to spend time on my research, and turn my attention to the initiatives that I began at Yale, especially working on projects concerning feminist technology studies, media cultures, and forms of power, state and nationalisms in political life and culture.

My hope is that the new administration at Yale continues to see the importance of our research and teaching, and understands WGSS not simply as an identity category or a diversity project, but as a broad and interdisciplinary field of research that has been around nationally for over 40 years, and which is as important as any traditional discipline. I hope all of you reading this can help in bringing this awareness.

Inderpal Grewal
Chair, WGSS

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