Maria San Filippo
Vanita received her PhD in English with designated emphases in Feminist Theory and Research and Critical Theory from the University of California, Davis, in 2009. She is currently on leave from her position as an assistant professor of English at Texas A&M University, where she has faculty affiliations in Women’s and Gender Studies and the Race and Ethnic Studies Institute. Her research interests include Asian American and South Asian diasporic cultural production, transnational feminist thought, queer theory, visual cultures, and postcolonial and multi-ethnic literatures. Vanita is completing her first book project Modeling Minority: New Cosmopolitan Ethics and the Transnational Beauty Assemblage, which examines how neoliberal cultural economies of Indian beauty/fashion shape citizenship and belonging within the Indian American diaspora. In its focus upon the material and affective dimensions of transnational flows of beauty, Modeling Minority argues that Indian American diasporic artists’ various articulations of Indian beauty in their creative work refract minority subjects’ uneven access to social and economic capital and to formal and cultural citizenship. Identifying such incomplete and partial belonging is particularly crucial for understanding the way women, girls, service sector workers, undocumented migrants, and sexual minorities have occupied a historically marginal place not only within global capitalism but also within studies of diaspora. The book’s conceptualization of beauty as an assemblage also intervenes more broadly into dominant popular and scholarly accounts of beauty as simply a mode of (feminine) objectification or as form of unearned privilege that promotes self-advantage. It develops a new consideration of beauty as a deeply, if unevenly, socializing force.
Vanita’s next book project traces non-heteronormative modes of intimacy and affiliation between South Asian and other racialized diasporic populations. This project, which examines cultural production by Mira Nair, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Pushkar Sharma, and Shailja Patel, among others, queries imperial logics of rule in postcolonial and settler nations as they reinforce normative sexual arrangements. It also investigates ways that oppositional discourses around these modes of rule often risk reproducing the very sexual normalizations that they seek to contest. I am currently preparing two articles based upon this area of research, which examine how Afro-Asian and indigenous feminist conceptualizations of nationhood unsettle heterosexuality and settlement as defining features of diaspora, particularly as the concept has emerged within studies of South Asian migration.
She has published work in the fields of South Asian popular culture, multi-ethnic U.S. literature, and transnational feminist thought, including:
“Beauty and the Limits of Belonging in Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine,” Contemporary Literature. (Summer 2013) 54 (2): 337-68.
“Jhumpa Lahiri’s Feminist Cosmopolitics and the Transnational Beauty Assemblage,” Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism. (Spring 2013) 11 (2): 29-59.
“Come for the Saris, Stay for the Politics,” Interview. Migritude. New York: Kaya Press, 2010. 140-147.
“The Nationalization of the Global Indian Woman: Geographies of Beauty in Femina,” Journal of South Asian Popular Culture. (Spring 2006) 4 (1): 61-85.
Maria San Filippo
Maria San Filippo, 2013-2015 Visiting Assistant Professor in Gender Studies, is author of The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television (Indiana University Press, 2013). Previously she taught in the Program in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University (2010-2013), in the Cinema and Media Studies Program at Wellesley College (2008-2012), and in the LGBT Studies Program and the School of Film and Television at UCLA (2007-2008).
From 2008-2010 she was the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Cinema and Media Studies at Wellesley, and in 2012-2013 she was a Research Associate in Feminist Approaches to New Media at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center. She graduated from Wellesley with a B.A. in Political Science and Film Studies, and holds a M.A. in Cinema Studies from New York University and a Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from UCLA.
Professor San Filippo’s research focuses on intersections between screen media and contemporary cultural politics, especially in regard to representing and negotiating alternative sexualities. Her new book project examines the impact of 21st century digital media forms and cultures on reception practices and on the representation of alternative sexualities. Her articles and reviews have been published in CineAction, Cineaste, Cinema Journal, Cinephile, English Language Notes, Film History, In Media Res, Journal of Bisexuality, Quarterly Review of Film & Video, Scope, Senses of Cinema, and in the anthologies Global Art Cinema (Oxford UP, 2010), Millennial Masculinity (Wayne State UP, 2013), and Film Criticism in the Digital Age (Rutgers UP, forthcoming 2014).