Dissertation Defense Video
The video of my dissertation defense is available to watch via the department's YouTube channel. It can be viewed below. For those who are interested, I have also included the abstract below. Excerpts from the introduction and literature review were published in the journal, Integral Review.
Claiming Voice, Vitality, and Authority in Post-Secular South Asian Borderlands: a Critical Hermeneutics and Autohistoria/teoría for Decolonial Feminist Consciousness
This dissertation uses Gloria Anzaldúa’s borderlands framework to facilitate the transculturative process of shifting into a new consciousness in the border zones of kyriarchy, coloniality, and modernity. The borderlands are conceived of as an alternative to that which is written in history. De-linking from Western modernity’s assumption of universality allows me to make a claim to a modernity that acknowledges the histories of Western colonialism and imperialism. It further enables me to reconstruct meanings and practices found in transnational spaces configured as the Other: tradition, the past, nature, the feminine, the “primitive,” the household. I enact this decolonial recovery at the edges of my South Asian/brown postcolonial feminist subjectivity.
The borderlands framework makes possible a profoundly relational onto-epistemological praxis, in which I examine the configurations of voice, vitality and authority in my experiences, identities, and motherlines. I contend with the dominant narratives of brahmanical patriarchy continuing in the lives of women in India. The post-secular sacred locates as essential a critical interrogation of all forms of oppression. Engaging the self in relation to culture, I utilize borderlands thinking and aesthetics to recover and resignify complex images of female identity, and to suggest an episteme of the sacred for healing and liberation of post-patriarchal possibilities. The critical mobility of spiritual mestizaje invites me into a wholeness of sorts that forefronts the grandmothers, the foremothers, and the experiences of women of color on their own terms.
The dissertation locates itself within a transdisciplinary post/decolonial feminist research paradigm. It accomplishes its tasks of deconstruction and reconstruction through the processes of feminist critical hermeneutics (Schüssler Fiorenza) and autohistoria/teoría (Anzaldúa). Both methods of inquiry make possible a processual and relational epistemology that challenges the borders around the modes of knowledge creation.
I woke up to the wonderful news that my dissertation won the 2020 Kore Award for Best Dissertation in Women and Mythology. Am overjoyed and honored! In their email, the Award Committee wrote:
"The ASWM 2020 Kore Award Committee is proud and honored to inform you that you have been named the winner of the 2020 Kore Award for Best Dissertation in Women and Mythology. Your dissertation, "Claiming Voice, Vitality, and Authority in Post-Secular South Asian Borderlands" is especially recognized for its daring work in methodology, vision and scope. The importance of decolonization in scholarship is vital and your bringing that to the foreground is both bold and necessary. As a reader, I felt challenged and opened by the work, and wanted to apply what I was learning to my own scholarship. Your beautiful writing is a joy to read."
I join an amazing list of scholars who have won the award in the past.
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