headshots of Sadia Abbas, Charu Gupta, & Nayan Shah

Colonialism, Sex, Disease

a conversation with Sadia Abbas, Charu Gupta, & Nayan Shah; moderated by Gayatri Gopinath

Register for this free online event here.

This webinar marks the second session of a new webinar series, Theory and Practice: Transnational Conversations on Gender and Sexuality: a collaboration between CSGS and the Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality at Ashoka University (New Delhi). The series is aimed at TAP-ping into critical and creative energies from around the world, to expand the intellectual and geographical ambit of our conversations around gender and sexuality in relation to politics, rhetoric, and history.

This second webinar will focus on questions on Colonialism, Sex, Disease. Given the cultural politics surrounding Covid-19 – the racialized health disparities it lays bare, the anxieties around intimacy and contact that it generates – this session will seek to provide a longer historical arc through which to view the current crisis. We will explore the complex ways in which understandings of health, disease, and contagion have been inextricable from anxieties around race and sex, and the sex of the “other” in particular. In so doing we will contextualize the current crisis and trace its pre-history to earlier moments of cultural anxiety around race, sex, disease, and contagion.

Sadia Abbas is an Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark. She specializes in postcolonial literature and theory, the culture and politics of Islam in modernity, early modern English literature, and the history of 20th-century criticism. She publishes both scholarly monographs and creative work. Her first book, At Freedom’s Limit: Islam and the Postcolonial Predicament (2014), won an MLA First Book Prize. Her second book The Empty Room (2017) is her first novel, and is set in 1970s Karachi in the decade leading up to and overlapping with the Zia dictatorship. Her latest book Shahzia Sikander: Extraordinary Realities is a co-edited anthology on the work of the Pakistani-American visual artist Shahzia Sikander. Abbas is currently working on a book on Hellenism and Postcolonialism, tentatively titled Space in Another Time, along with a second novel.

Charu Gupta teaches at the Department of History, University of Delhi. She was recently a Visiting Professor and ICCR Chair at the University of Vienna. She has also been a Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi; the Social Science Research Council, New York; the Asian Scholarship Foundation, Thailand; the Wellcome Institute, London, and the University of Oxford. She is the author of Sexuality, Obscenity, Community: Women, Muslims and the Hindu Public in Colonial India, and The Gender of Caste: Representing Dalits in Print. She is also the editor of Gendering Colonial India: Reforms, Print, Caste and Communalism. She has published several papers in national-international journals on themes of sexualities, masculinities, caste and religious identities. She is presently working on life narratives in Hindi in early twentieth century north India.

Nayan Shah is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity and History at the University of Southern California. His  research examines historical struggles over bodies, space and the exercise of state power from the mid- 19th to the 21st century. His scholarship has contributed to studies of race, sexuality and gender and to the history of migration, health, law and governance. Shah is the author of two award-winning books – Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West (University of California Press, 2011) and Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown (University of California Press, 2001). Professor Shah’s new project on The Refusal to Eat: A Century of Hunger Striking Prisoners’ Voices Against Prison Power, explores the transnational history of hunger strikes, political struggle and medical crises in the 20th and 21st century —  U.S. and British suffrage activists, Irish Republicans, Indian Revolutionaries and Activists, Japanese American prisoners, South African anti-apartheid activists, Palestinian detainees, Guantanamo prisoners and refugees in Australia, US. and Europe.

Organized by the NYU Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality and the Centre for Studies of Gender & Sexuality at Ashoka University, New Delhi. Co-sponsored by the NYU Asian/Pacific/American Institute and South Asia at NYU.


This event is free and will be accessed via Zoom.

Register for this event here.

Please contact CSGS at csgs@nyu.edu for more information.


Dec 02 2020


10:30 am - 11:30 am



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Zoom webinar


Centre for Studies of Gender and Sexuality at Ashoka University
Centre for Studies of Gender and Sexuality at Ashoka University

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Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality at NYU
Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality at NYU
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