A.B., M.A., Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)
Smitha RadhakrishnanLuella LaMer Associate Professor of Women's Studies; Associate Professor of Sociology
Interested in globalization and gender, especially in India and its diaspora; and in interdisciplinary, interactive teaching.
My research focuses on the culture and political economy of globalization, especially in relation to gender, class, race, and nation. I am currently involved in a book project on the global microfinance industry. Drawing from multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork, this study situates working class borrowers in India within the context of global financial networks, including for-profit microfinance institutions in India and the U.S., private equity and impact investing firms, and peer-to-peer lending platforms like kiva.org. A recent paper based on this research deconstructs prevailing myths about the microfinance industry.
Previously, I have studied the transnational class culture of Indian information technology (IT) professionals in India, Silicon Valley, and South Africa. I focus particularly on the importance of gendered discourses of a good family, and the centrality of these ideas in the production of a global India. My first book, Appropriately Indian: Gender and Culture in a New Transnational Class (Duke University Press, 2011) was based on this research. I have also studied meanings of race, ethnicity, and femininity among South African Indians in Durban.
My courses offer students an opportunity to use the tools of social science to think deeply about issues of difference in a globalized, interconnected world. Covering a broad range of topics from gender and development to race and nationalism, each course focuses on critical reading, a transnational perspective, and the dynamic linkages between theory and practice.
I was one of first four Wellesley faculty to teach a MOOC on the edX platform. My course, Soc 108X: Introduction to Global Sociology launched in Fall 2014 to an audience of 28,000 registered students in over 150 countries, and continues to be available to anyone in the world with an internet connection.
In parallel with my academic life, I learn, perform and promote Indian classical and contemporary dance forms. I have been a part of Navarasa Dance Theater since 2008 as a performer, and currently serve on the board. For over two decades, I have performed solo and group productions in South Africa, India, and all over the United States.