Webinar – Contested Bodies: Biopolitical Borders & Reconciliation

Join us in our next conversation on Contested Bodies: Biopolitical Borders & Reconciliation by Dr. Ishita Sinha Roy, on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, at 12:00 PM EDT. In this webinar, Dr. Sinha Roy analyzes how women’s bodies, as mediated borders, are subject to physical and symbolic violence in the name of cultural/national purity. Drawing on case studies from India and the U.S., we will explore how the work towards creating social justice and change are complicated by considerations of cultural and historical legacies.


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In 2012, a young Indian woman, Jyoti Singh Pandey, was brutally gang raped and disemboweled on a public bus, while her male companion was viciously beaten, and then both were left for dead on the roadside. The “Nirbahaya” case, as it came to be known, grabbed international headlines, especially as the young woman, despite her acute pain, insisted on giving testimony to the police before she passed away. In the culture war that followed, one of the defense lawyers for the accused placed the blame squarely on the victim for being single and out with a male friend at night: “You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman,” he bluntly stated. 

More recently, halfway across the world, the U.S. has witnessed in ‘living color’ the police-related homicide of George Floyd and the ensuing “Black Lives Matter” protests against police brutality that especially targets black men. The heroic attempts by the African American Policy Forum and its executive director, law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, to also spotlight the police violence against black cisgender and trans women through the #SayHerName campaign have met with limited success. The campaign hasn’t generated the same media attention and celebrity/corporate backing that have amplified the atrocity of the George Floyd case. As Crenshaw puts it, “Many people don’t have the framework to conceptualize the racist violence toward Black women because their stories have historically been erased or ignored…”

In this talk, Dr. Sinha Roy looks at the political and representational wars being waged through the assaults on women’s bodies. The contemporary global landscape is chaotic. Not only are we battling the spread of a global pandemic, but the rise in insular nationalisms across countries in recent years, along with a worldwide economic downturn, has caused social and political unrest to flare up in hot pockets in various regions.


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Dr. Ishita Sinha Roy is originally from Mumbai, India, and has spent almost three decades in the U.S., which is now her new home. She has a PhD in Communication from the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, where she also taught media and cultural studies before coming to the East Coast. She is currently a full Professor at Allegheny College, a private liberal arts institution with a two-hundred-year-old distinguished reputation among “colleges that change lives.” Dr. Sinha Roy’s work draws from her pre-academic career in advertising. She studies nation-branding or the strategic and deliberate efforts by countries to market themselves to various domestic and international audiences. In studying the media narratives, cultural artifacts, and symbolic systems that inform nation-branding, she investigates how affective populism is reshaping ideologies and policies especially those concerning the surveillance and disciplining of marginalized bodies and those that are considered to be either economically non-compliant, or racially, ethnically, and religiously abject. Dr. Sinha Roy partnered with the Rotary Club of Bombay Mid-Town, in India, to develop the educational side of an internationally acclaimed rural sustainable development and watershed project in rural India. As part of that initiative she spent years learning from and with tribal women on how to effect social change from the ground up. She has also served as the Faculty Liaison for the Provost’s Office at Allegheny College to Internationalize the campus (for which she was the co-PI on an Andrew W. Mellon grant). As the Provost’s Diversity Liaison, she championed the Sustained Dialogues Diversity Initiative to drive conversations across various constituent groups on campus, with the goal of creating a more equitable and inclusive learning and work environment.

Please note that the deadline to register for this webinar is one day before the event. We will send the Zoom access link to registrants after the registration closing time and again on the day of the event. For further information about this our other webinars, contact us at webinars@mediatorsbeyondborders.org

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