New  York Council for the Humanities Public Scholar

Roksana Badruddoja is a member of the 2015-2017 inaugural cohort of the The New York Council for the Humanities Public Scholars program, a highly competitive selection process that results in a 30-member group. The program seeks to form a group of individuals who want to contribute to and benefit from a statewide community of public intellectuals.

Dr. Badruddoja offers the following presentations:

1. The Fantasy of Normative Motherhood: The Myths of Motherwork & Contesting Maternal Ideology

Fueled by restricting definitions of motherhood (and womanhood) she did not create, Roksana Badruddoja offers a very personal account of motherhood. She claims that when she made a decision to become pregnant, she did so without quite understanding what she refers to as the “unschooling” that she feels is needed around our cultural imaginations of motherhood (and womanhood). With the onset of a high-risk pregnancy seven weeks into her first trimester, Badruddoja changed her notions of what it means to be a mother.

In this presentation, she speaks of her own unschooling from the fantasy of motherhood as a shared, similar middle class experience. She shares an auto-ethnographic account about motherhood (and womanhood); a socially-constructed discourse that excises the messiness of motherwork. She does so from two perspectives: one from her body—raced, classed, sexed, gendered, and cultured—and one from the body of the American nation-state, also raced, classed, sexed, gendered, and cultured.

What Badruddoja hopes to demonstrate in this interactive presentation is that dominant maternal ideology has allowed mothers to become a marginalized and invisible category who engage in motherwork at high physical and psychological (and economic) costs.

2. South Asian Diasporic Fiction: Project of Empire and Consolidation of the American Nation-State

Four popular award-winning literary fictions will be reviewed in this presentation: Samina Ali’s (2004) “Madras on Rainy Days,” Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s (1995) “Arranged Marriage,” Tanuja Desai Hidier’s (2002) “Born Confused,” and Jhumpa Lahiri’s (2003) “The Namesake.” Roksana Badruddoja will consider the following two questions: What are the meanings of South Asian American identities in the racial and ethnic imaginary of the U.S.? And, how do these meanings travel through class, gender, sexual, and cultural hierarchies in the U.S. as well as transnationally?

As a second-generation Bangladeshi American woman, sympathetic to the South Asian diasporic novels as theories of real ruptures in the lived experiences of South Asian American wo/men, she probes the dispersion of cultural experiences through the literary fictional narratives; comparing them across situations within a set of lives in her own ethnographic work that explores the lives of South Asian Americans. Her objective then is to demonstrate that too often, popular literary fictions spawned from South Asian diasporic authors for consumption by both the diaspora and the white mainstream are laden with Orientalist dualities.

What is being written into both the academic and popular narratives is a story of cultural displacement, Badruddoja argues, which evades the specificity of gender and depends on stereotypic propositions about America and South Asia. The cultural displacement model plays a key role in perpetuating the cultural authority of the “west.”

3. South Asian American Women: Rupturing the “Third World Woman” and the Meanings of “Arranged Marriage”

In this program, Roksana Badruddoja speaks to the issue of South Asian American women constructing diasporic identities that simultaneously assert a sense of belonging to the locality in which they grew up and also proclaim a “difference” that marks their experiences of being an “Other.” This presentation explores one of the spaces of cathexis in which South Asian American women demonstrate the flexibility of cultural identity, both in its grounding in a specific political economy and its responsiveness to situational factors that allow individuals and groups to make cultural choices, including marriage. While values surrounding marriage prove to be a contentious arena due to the ways in which South Asian women’s bodies are raced, cultured, and gendered within American nationalism, South Asian American women, nevertheless, submerge the image of universal “arranged marriage” (often falsely conflated with forced marriage), challenging the Orientalist cultural conquest.

To request Dr. Badruddoja as a New York Council for the Humanities Public Scholar speaker for an event, please call 212.233.1131.

Council on Contemporary Families

The Council on Contemporary Families (CCF) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing the press and public with the latest research and best-practice findings about American families. A central purpose of CCF is to help the media find experts in various arenas of family research and practice (see “Find an Expert“).

Dr. Badruddoja is a former member of the Board of Directors (2013-2015) and is available to the media as an expert in Asian American Families:

Badruddoja. R (2014). “South Asian-American Women: “Marrying the Traditional with the Modern” (Gender, Work, and Relationships). In Unconventional Wisdom: News You Can Use, Volume 6: A Survey of Recent Family Research and Clinical, Joshua Coleman and Stephanie Coontz (eds.). 2014 Unconventional Wisdom V.6

To request Dr. Badruddoja as a Council on Contemporary Families Expert speaker for an event, please click here.


Sample Speaking Engagements & Paper Presentations

Invited Keynote Speaker

“Worn Out! Motherwork in the Age of Austerity,” key note speaker at the annual Women’s History Conference, Sarah Lawrence College, March 6-7, 2015, Bronxville, NY.


Invited Speaker

“The Fantasy of Normative Motherhood,” a talk at the annual meeting of the Museum of Motherhood, April 30-May 2, 2015, Bronx, NY.

“Gender-Queering the South Asian Diaspora: Challenging Normative Spatial Powers,” a lecture and workshop at the annual meeting of the Muslim GLBTQ Retreat, May 23-26, 2014, Philadelphia, PA.

Maternal Ideology & State Control of Women’s Bodies,” a talk at the annual meeting of the Museum of Motherhood, March 6-8, 2014, New York, NY.

“Queering South Asians,” a lecture at Trikone’s DesiQ 2013, University of California San Francisco Mission Bay, July 4-6, 2013, San Francisco, CA.

“Immigrant Families as They Really Are: South Asian-American Women and the Tropes of Intimate Partnership,” a guest speaker at the 16th annual meeting of the Council on Contemporary Families, April 5-6, 2013, University of Miami, FL.

“Eyes of the Storms: Voices of South Asian-American Women,” a book talk at the Women and Gender Studies Brown Bag Series, November 6, 2013, Manhattan College, Bronx, NY.

“Eyes of the Storms: The Voices of South Asian-American Women,” a book reading at the annual South Asian Literary and Theatre Arts Festival, National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution, November 4-5, 2012 Washington DC (Event sponsored by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History & Embassy of India, Washington, D.C.; panelists included Nina Godiwalla, author of Suits, and Aatish Taseer, author of Noon).

“Eyes of the Storms: Voices of South Asian-American Women,” a book reading at the 15th anniversary exhibit of the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective, Queens Museum of Art, August 11, 2012, Queens, NY (Exhibit Dates: August 11, 2012–October 7, 2012).

“From Backpack 2 Briefcase: A Professional How-To For Women,” a guest speaker at Fresno State, April 29, 2012, Fresno, CA.

“Navigating the Professional Opportunities Maze: Women in the Workplace,” a guest speaker at the American Association of Bangladeshi Engineers & Architects, Stanford University, December 6, 2010, Palo Alto, CA.

“South Asian Americans Negotiating Queer Identities,” a paper presentation at the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute, Fresno State, April 28, 2009, Fresno, CA.

“Racial and Ethnic Imaginary: Barack Obama and the Meanings of Blackness,” a guest lecture at the Department of Sociology, University of Dhaka, January 10, 2009, Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Paper Presentations  

“South Asian Diasporic Fiction: Project of Empire and Consolidation of the American Nation-State,” a paper presentation at the annual meeting of the National Women’s Studies Association, November 12-15, 2015, Milwaukee, WI.

“Rupturing the ‘Third-World-Woman’ and Arranged Marriage,” a paper presentation at the annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society, February 27-29, 2015, Manhattan, NY. (Also Session Presider.)

“Mothering, Love, and Labor: New Feminist Perspectives,” a paper presentation at the annual meeting of the National Women’s Studies Association, November 13-16, 2014, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“The South Asian Diaspora & Queer Spaces: Challenging Normative Spatial Powers” & “Contesting Motherhood, Mothering, and Maternal Ideology,” paper presentations at the annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society, February 20-23, 2014, Baltimore, MD.

“Contesting Maternal Ideology: The Yonic Myths of Motherhood” & “Decolonizing the South Asian Diaspora,” paper presentations at the winter annual meeting of the Sociologist for Women in Society, February 6-9, 2014, Nashville, TN.

“Diasporic Fiction: Project of Empire and Consolidation of the Nation-State,” a paper presentation at the annual meeting of the South Asian Literary Association, January 8-9, 2014, Chicago, IL.

“Symbolic Pollution: Towards a Formal Sociological and Feminist Perspective on Menstruation,” a paper presentation at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association & “Bittersweet Voices: Decolonizing the South Asian Diaspora,” a paper presentation at the Sociologists for Women in Society at ASA, August 10-13, 2013, New York, NY.

“Performing Motherhood and Maternal Ideologies,” a paper presentation at the annual meeting of the Museum of Motherhood, May 2-4, 2013, New York, NY.

“Shifting Intimacies: A Reading by South Asian Diasporic Writers,” a book reading at the annual meeting of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, February 29-March 3, 2012, Chicago, IL.

“Queer Theory, Gender, and Race,” a panel moderator & “The Multicultural Beast,” a paper presentation at the annual meeting of the California Sociological Association, November 13-14, 2010, Riverside, CA.

“The ABCD Conundrum: Women, Marriage, and Alternative Formations of Power,” a paper presentation at the annual meeting of the Central California Research Symposium, Fresno State, April 13, 2010, Fresno, CA.

Please e-mail Dr. Badruddoja to schedule a speaking engagement.

Selected Expert Womanist Interviews

“Sociology Professor at Manhattan College Redefines What ‘Mom” Really Means” by Christine Loughran, Communications Coordinator, Manhattan College, May 2015.

“What Does It Mean to Be a Woman in America” by Hayley Matthews, Editor-In-Chief,, February 2015. 

“We Can Do It! Study Up on Motherwork this March in NYC” by Angela Tolosa, Co-founder,, March 2015.

“Women & Lasillian Mission Month.” In Her Campus Manhattan by Lisa Angelis, Manhattan College, April 2015. 

“Colleges Struggle To Stem The Tide Of Sexual Misconduct On Campus.” In The Riverdale Press by Tanisia Morris, October 2014.

“Mother Studies Championed at Manhattan College.” In The Riverdale Press by Maya Rajamani, October 2014.

“Saris, Journal, and a Video Triptych: Art To Inspire Social Change.” In Dhaka Courier (31:2) by Cultural Correspondent, July 2014.

“An Impressive Installation of Saris, Journals, Sounds, and Videos.” In eindependentbd by Cultural Correspondent, July 2014.

“Michelle Obama Dismissed ‘Angry Black Woman’ Image.” In Central Valley’s News Station KSEE24 by A. Asistio, January 2012.

“South Asian Women in America Talk Sex, Break Myths.” In Women’s Feature Service by V. Makkar, August 2010.

“Campus May Cut Multicultural GE Requirements.” In The Collegian by T. Miller, December 2009.

Expert interview for radio talk show, Common Ground (KFCF 88.1 FM), by A. Rezapour, June 2008.

Please e-mail Dr. Badruddoja to schedule an expert interview.


Selected Service to Profession

Advisory Boards: Council on Contemporary Families (CCF) since 2013; Museum of Motherhood (M.O.M.) since 2013; Society for Mother Studies since 2015

Editorial Review Boards: Journal of the Motherhood Initiative (JMI) (ISSN 1488-0989) since July 2014; Journal of Mother Studies since 2015; Guest Editorial Board, Mothering and Reproduction, Fall/Winter 2014, V.5, No.2

Journal Peer Reviewer: Journal of Motherhood Initiative (JMI) (ISSN 1488-0989) since September 2013; Gender & Society (G&S) (ISSN 0891-2432) since September 2013; Feminist Formations (ISSN 1040-0656) since April 2008; Scientific Journals International (SJI) (ISSN 1556-6757) since May 2007

 Governing Council Positions: National Women Studies Association (NWSA) – Elected to be Co-Chair for Women of Color Leadership Project (WoCLP), 2015; Conflict Resolution Committee Chair, elected term 2014-2016; Elections Committee, elected term 2008-2010; and Conflict Resolution Committee, elected term 2005-2007