Durba Mitra

Durba Mitra

Richard B. Wolf Associate Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Acting Director of The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Durba Mitra

Durba Mitra is the Richard B. Wolf Associate Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University.

Mitra works at the intersection of feminist and queer studies. 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. It was recognized for scholarly achievement with the Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize from the Association of Asian Studies and an honorable mention for the Law and Society Association’s J. Willard Hurst Book Prize for the best work in socio-legal history.

Mitra’s current book project explores the history of Third World feminist thought and South-South solidarity movements. Other projects include a book of essays on sexuality and social science and a collection of interviews with global feminist thinkers.

Mitra’s work has been recognized with the 2021 Walter Channing Cabot Fellow Award for “distinguished accomplishments in the fields of literature, history, or art” from Harvard University. She is the recipient of the 2019 Roslyn Abramson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at Harvard, which recognizes teachers for “excellence and sensitivity in teaching undergraduates” and the 2020 Star Family Prize for Excellence in Faculty Advising. Mitra was named as a “Favorite Professor” by the Harvard College Classes of 2021 and 2022.

For the 2022-2023 academic year, Mitra is Acting Faculty Director of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. Mitra is the editor of “Books in Brief” for GLQ: Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, a member of the editorial board of the journal Signs, a contributing editor for Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and a contributing editor for the Journal of the History of Ideas. She is a faculty associate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and is a member of the Asia Center Council and Steering Committee at the Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard.

 

Selected Awards and Fellowships
  • Favorite Professor, Harvard College Class of 2022, as recorded in Harvard Yearbook

  • 2021 Walter Channing Cabot Fellow for “distinguished accomplishments in the fields of literature, history, or art,” Harvard University

  • 2021 Favorite Professor, Harvard College Class of 2021

  • 2021 Mellon Faculty of Color Working Group Symposium Fellowship

  • 2020 Star Family Prize for Excellence in Faculty Advising, Harvard University

  • 2020-2021 Shelby Cullom Davis Center Fellowship, Princeton University

  • 2019-2020 Asia Center Seminar Series Grant, Harvard University

  • 2019 Roslyn Abramson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Harvard University

  • 2019 Publication Grant, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University

  • 2019 FAS Publication Fund Grant, Harvard FAS Division of Social Science

  • 2019 Mellon Foundation Schlesinger Library Long 19th Amendment Award for the course “Solidarity” in Spring 2020, Harvard University

  • 2018 Asia Center Faculty Research Grant, Harvard University

  • 2018-2019 Fellow, Carol K. Pforzheimer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

  • 2018 Course Innovation Fund Award for “Feminist and Queer Histories of Difference,” Harvard University Office of Undergraduate Education

  • 2018 Tenure Track Manuscript Workshop Grant, Harvard FAS Division of Social Science

  • 2015-2016 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, Penn Humanities Forum, University of Pennsylvania

  • 2012-2013 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of History and Gender and Women’s Studies, Bowdoin College

  • 2012-2013 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa (declined)

  • 2009-2010 Fulbright-Nehru Scholar, India 

Edited Special Issues 
  • 2021 Durba Mitra, Carla Kaplan, and Sarah Haley (eds), “Rage” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 46, no. 4 (Summer 2021)
Book
  • 2020 Indian Sex Life: Sexuality and the Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2020) 
Selected Publications
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

Websites