Durba Mitra

Durba Mitra

Carol K. Pforzheimer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute
Assistant Professor of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Durba Mitra
Durba Mitra is Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and Carol K. Pforzheimer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. Mitra works at the intersection of feminist and queer studies. Her research and teaching focus on the history of sexuality, the history of science and epistemology, and gender and feminist thought in South Asia and the colonial and postcolonial world. Mitra is a faculty associate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and is on the Asia Center Council at Harvard.
 
Mitra’s book, Indian Sex Life: Sexuality and the Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought (Princeton University Press, 2020), demonstrates how ideas of deviant female sexuality became foundational to modern social thought. Ongoing research projects include a history of Third World feminisms and South-South feminist solidarity movements, and the “FemGlossia” project on the foundational place of sexual difference and sexuality in key concepts of the modern social sciences. Mitra’s scholarship has appeared in Gender and History, History and Technology, Economic and Political Weekly, and Feminist Studies. Mitra also engages current debates on gender and sexuality, with work featured in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (“Ask a Feminist: Sexual Harassment in the Age of #MeToo” and “Ask a Feminist: Soraya Chemaly Discusses Feminist Rage with Carla Kaplan and Durba Mitra”) and Epicenter (“History’s Apology: Sexuality and the 377 Supreme Court Decision in India”). Mitra’s research has been supported by fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, Wolf Humanities Center at the University of Pennsylvania, a faculty diversity fellowship at Bowdoin College, and as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar to India. She is a member of the editorial board of the journal Signs.
 
Mitra is a recipient of the 2019 Roslyn Abramson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at Harvard, which recognizes teachers for “excellence and sensitivity in teaching undergraduates.” Her courses include the general education course “Global Feminisms” geared to all undergraduates at Harvard. She also teaches a range of other undergraduate and graduate courses on gender and sexuality in the colonial and postcolonial world, sexuality and race, the global history of sexuality and sexology, feminist science studies, and feminist and queer theory.
 
Mitra is committed to issues of equitable knowledge and digital access in the postcolonial world. Mitra is a founding member of xpMethod: Group for Experimental Methods in Humanistic Research, where she is the moderator for the GenderSex Collective. She co-organizes the “Architectures of Knowledge" workshops, which has led to collaborative research projects on digital archives in Mumbai, India, Lahore, Pakistan, and among diverse communities in the US.
 
Courses Taught in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
GENED 1036 Global Feminisms
WOMGEN 1200 Who Run the World? Feminism in the Age of Empire
WOMGEN 1210 Feminist and Queer Theories of Difference
WOMGEN 1214 Solidarity: Transnational Women's Rights from Suffrage to NGOs
WOMGEN 1426 The Sexual Life of Colonialism
WOMGEN 1441 Feminist Theory: The Body as Archive

Contact Information

Boylston Hall G26
5 Harvard Yard
Cambridge, MA 02138