People

Denise Walsh is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Politics and Women, Gender & Sexuality at the University of Virginia, and a founding co-director of the Power, Violence and Inequality Collective in the College of Arts & Sciences at UVA. Her research investigates how liberal democracies can become more inclusive and just. Walsh’s current book manuscript, The Politics of Culture and Women’s Rights in Liberal Democracies, examines polygyny in South Africa, the expulsion of indigenous women from the tribe for marrying non-native men in Canada, and the face veil ban in France. Walsh also is a co-founder of The Backlash Project, which investigates opposition to gender justice.

Walsh's Academic Website

Brittany Leach is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Politics Department at the University of Virginia. Her areas of interest include identity, subjectivity, democracy, contentious politics, sovereignty, imagination, critical theory, and continental philosophy. She approaches the study of identity from an intersectional perspective, but she is most firmly rooted in the tradition of feminist theory and gender scholarship. Within democratic theory, she focuses the role of activism (particularly protest) and other forms of agonistic disagreement. Her research on imagination deals with the ways that particular bodies and subjects are imagined, the capacity to imagine new forms of collective life, the forms of imagination we instantiate within the discipline of political science, and the faculty of imagination itself. In all of these areas, her research is guided by the insights of critical theorists (primarily those working in the traditions of feminist theory, critical race theory, and Marxism) and continental philosophers (particularly French, German, and Italian thought).

Hana Nasser is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Politics Department at the University of Virginia. Her research interests span Continental political thought, critical theories of race and gender, materialist analyses of bodies and their political constitution, as well as ideas on secularism, and the role of religion within the public sphere.  Her senior thesis entitled, The Newcomer and Liberal Pluralism: Re-centering Embodiment in Discussions of Secularism, Gender, and Difference, looked into canonical accounts of belief, embodiment, and political dissent from the Classical period to the Modern. In doing so, she hopes to better understand recent controversies of multiculturalism within the European Union such as: the French ban on the headscarf, the handshake controversy in Switzerland, and a host of other tensions arising from religious and cultural particularities.

Paromita Sen is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Politics Department at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on the intersection of gender and social movements, specifically those surrounding issues of women’s physical security and Violence Against Women. Her dissertation, ​When Protest Made the State, explores the recent phenomena of increased public interest in violence against women, evidenced by the spate of mass protests against rape in developing countries such as India and Turkey. She finds that governments use public outrage about rape to increase their punitive power over marginalized populations and strengthen their surveillance policies amongst others. Violence against women as an issue area proves to be particularly prone to State capture as it allows for narratives of protection and safety to supersede narratives of autonomy and citizen rights, thus justifying State co-optation of the movement, and democratic civil liberties by extension. The project therefore contributes a new approach to understanding the classical security-liberty debate, by reimagining how citizens perceive security and violence in the public sphere. Her additional research interests lie in the realms of women politicians and their relation to questions of representation and leadership, development interventions and their gendered consequences and questions of representation for marginalized and/or vulnerable communities.

Sen's Academic Website

Catalina Vallejo is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Virginia. Her​ research interests include cultural-economic sociology, political sociology and social memory studies. Her work examines how societies come to terms with violent pasts and other major disruptions of the social order and how, through the mobilization of narratives and economic resources, they address suffering. In her dissertation, she investigate how the Colombian and Peruvian states value suffering and develop institutional channels to offer reparations to victims of human rights violations related with armed conflict. She is originally from Bogotá, Colombia.

Vallejo's Academic Website

Sarah Corning is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Virginia. She plans to major in Political and Social Thought and minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality. Sarah currently works as an undergraduate research assistant for Professor Denise Walsh, focusing on backlash to women's participation in politics and civil society. Sarah's academic interests include the study of political violence and resistance movements; the feminization of migration; and immigration and refugee policy. In Charlottesville, Sarah acts as a Spanish translator and caseworker for an immigration attorney at the Legal Aid Justice Center. 

Eileen Ying is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Virginia. She plans to double-major in Political and Social Thought (PST) and English. Eileen currently works as an undergraduate research assistant for Professor Denise Walsh, focusing on backlash to the political participation of women and gender justice advocates. Academically, she is interested in postcolonial feminist theory; the influences of race, gender, and sexuality in political advocacy work; civic infrastructure at the municipal level; and mechanisms of political transformation. She serves on the Advocacy Committee of the UVa Minority Rights Coalition and is heavily involved in local political action in Charlottesville. 

Feminist Research Seminar Participants

Jennifer M. Piscopo is Assistant Professor of Politics at Occidental College and co-convener of the Feminist Research Seminar. Her research on representation, gender quotas, and legislative institutions in Latin America has appeared in eleven peer-reviewed journals, including Comparative Political Studies, The Latin American Research Review, Latin American Politics and Society, and Politics, Groups, and Identities. With Susan Franceschet and Mona Lena Krook, she is editor of The Impact of Gender Quotas (Oxford University Press, 2012). She has also contributed to several edited volumes and won research awards from the American Political Science Association, the International Political Science Association, and the Latin American Studies Association.

Piscopo's personal website

Susan Ellison

Susan Ellison is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Wellesley College. Currently, her ethnographic research focuses on conflict as a window onto the entanglements between foreign aid agendas, the justice sector, and the lived experience of violence and economic insecurity in urban Latin America. She received her Ph.D. in socio-cultural anthropology from Brown University (2013), where she studied political and legal anthropology, including anthropological approaches to governance, democracy, dis/order, crime and criminalization, and conflict and its resolution. She spent two years (2013-2015) as a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University, where she also was a faculty affiliate of the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) before moving to Wellesley College. 

Ellison's personal website

Mary Hawkesworth

Mary Hawkesworth is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. Trained as a political scientist specializing in political philosophy, feminist theory, and philosophy of science, Hawkesworth’s scholarship encompasses both the critical interpretation of texts and the interpretation of contemporary social and political practices. Her recent research focuses on embodied power, women and politics; gender, globalization and democratization; contemporary feminist activism, and the politics of inquiry within the discipline of political science and the interdisciplinary field of women’s and gender studies. Since joining the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers in July 1998, she has served as the Director of the Center for American Women and Politics (1998-2001); the Director of the Graduate Program in Women and Gender Studies (2001-2004); and Chair of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies (2007-2010). In 2005, she wrote a successful proposal to bring Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, the leading journal in feminist scholarship, to Rutgers and has served as Editor in Chief for two terms (2005-2015). Hawkesworth is a founding member of the International Social Science Council Research Committee on Gender, Globalization, and Democratization.

Shirin M. Rai is Professor in the department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. She has written extensively on issues of gender, governance and development in journals such as Signs, Hypatia, New Political Economy, International Feminist Journal of Politics and Political Studies. She has consulted with the United Nations’ Division for the Advancement of Women and UNDP. She is a founder member of the South Asia Research Network on Gender, Law and Governance, and she was Director of the Leverhulme Trust programme on Gendered Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament (2007-2011). She serves on the Editorial Boards of International Feminist Journal of Politics, Politics and Gender, Global Ethics and Indian Journal of Gender Studies and Political Studies Quarterly and on the International Studies Association Publications Committee.

Juliana Restrepo Sanin

Juliana Restrepo Sanin is a PhD candidate in political science at Rutgers University. Her research interests include women’s representation, comparative politics, and Latin American politics. She is currently writing her dissertation, “Violence against Women in Politics in Latin America.” There, she analyzes the regional debates surrounding the concept of violence and harassment against women in politics and the legislative measures designed to combat this phenomenon. She is currently working on a project on citizens’ perceptions and engagement with the justice system in Colombia, Chile, and the United States. She has also worked as a consultant for the Netherlands Institute for Multi-Party Democracy in Colombia and the Inter-American Commission on Women.

Michelle Rowley

Michelle Rowley is an Associate Professor to the Women’s Studies Department at the University of Maryland. Her research interests address issues of gender and development, the politics of welfare, as well as state responses to questions of Caribbean women’s reproductive health and well being and rights for sexual minorities. Her publications include “When the Post-Colonial State Bureaucratizes Gender: Charting Trinidadian Women’s Centrality Within The Margins,” “Where the Streets Have No Name: Getting Development Out of the (RED).” “Rethinking Interdisciplinarity: Meditations on the Sacred Possibilities of an Erotic Feminist Pedagogy,” and “Whose Time Is It?: Gender and Humanism in Contemporary Caribbean Feminist Advocacy.” Her book is entitled Feminist Advocacy and Gender Equity in the Anglophone Caribbean: Envisioning a Politics of Coalition (Routledge, 2011). She presently serves on the editorial collective for Feminist Studies.

Rowley's personal website

Shauna Shames

Shauna Shames is an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department of Rutgers-Camden. Her primary area of academic interest is American political behavior, with a focus on race, gender, and politics. For her dissertation research, she has been conducting and analyzing data from an original survey and a set of in-depth interviews about potential candidates’ expectations about politics, political campaigns, and serving in elective office. She has published articles, reports, and book chapters on women as candidates, black women in Congress, comparative child care policy, work/family conflict, abortion, feminism in the U.S. and internationally, gay and lesbian rights, and U.S. public opinion. 

Shames's personal website

Erica Townsend-Bell

Erica Townsend-Bell is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Oklahoma State University. She teaches courses in race and gender politics, social movements and qualitative methods, with an expertise in intersectionality, comparative equality, and Latin American politics. Her research areas focus on the normative implementation of intersectionality (the contention that markers of difference, such as race, class, gender, sexuality, and the like, are inseparable and must be treated as such), comparative racial politics, and the politics of inclusion. Her work has been published in Political Research Quarterly, Signs, The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Politics, Politics and Gender, and Palgrave's intersectionality series, among other outlets. She is currently working on a book manuscript, Incorporating Difference: Implementing Intersectionality in Latin America.

Suzanna Walters

Suzanna Walters is Professor of Sociology and Professor and Director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University. Walters's work centers on questions of gender, feminist theory and politics, sexuality, and popular culture and she is a frequent commentator on these issues for the media. Her most recent book, The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes, and Good Intentions are Sabotaging Gay Equality (NYU Press), explores how notions of tolerance limit the possibilities for real liberation and deep social belonging. She is currently working on a book examining the state of both feminist theory and politics in an era of “call-out feminism” and intense social media attention.

Walters's personal website