Ashwini Tambe

Photo of Ashwini Tambe

Dr. Ashwini Tambe is Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s Studies and is currently serving as the Director of Graduate Studies. She is also the Editorial Director of the journal Feminist Studies [], a premier venue for interdisciplinary feminist scholarship and creative expression. She has previously taught at the University of Toronto, Georgetown University and Temple University. Her interests include transnational feminist theory, modern South Asia, sexuality studies and global political economy. Her current work, supported by SSHRC and NEH grants, examines the legal paradoxes in age standards for sexual consent and the shifting definitions of girlhood. Dr. Tambe is also fascinated by the cosmopolitanism found in early women’s magazines in India, and is involved in analyzing and digitizing the archives of the Marathi magazine Stree.

Over the past decade, the bulk of her work has focused on how South Asian societies regulate sexual practices. Her book Codes of Misconduct: Regulating Prostitution in Late Colonial Bombay (University of Minnesota Press, 2009) reflects on the moral panics and racialized logics surrounding campaigns to curb sexually-transmitted disease and trafficking. The book challenges linear readings of the relationship between laws and their effects by treating legal prohibitions as productive forces. Dr. Tambe has also co-edited The Limits of British Colonial Control in South Asia (Routledge, 2008), which foregrounds social disorder in port cities in the Indian Ocean.

Her recent articles have spanned topics such as climatology in scientific racism (Theory, Culture and Society, 2011), interdisciplinary approaches to feminist state theory (Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 2010), economic liberalization and sexual liberalism in contemporary India (Economic and Political Weekly, 2010), and the long record of transnational approaches in feminist scholarship (New Global Studies, 2010). She has supervised doctoral dissertations on a wide range of topics, such as critical university studies, religion, sexuality, and transnational feminist theory. In 2017, she received a Graduate Mentor of the Year award from the university.

Dr. Tambe draws inspiration from feminist activism in multiple settings, including India and Malaysia, where she grew up. She is multilingual –speaking French, Marathi, Hindi and Portuguese– and seeks to engage with feminisms outside Anglocentric circles. Her major sources of nourishment are mothering, music (especially funk and jazz), theater, and Chinese brush painting.

Major Areas of Research:

  • Transnational feminist theory
  • Sexuality studies
  • Global political economy
  • Modern South Asian history
  • State theory
  • Interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity and disciplinarity

Selected Publications:

Tambe, A. (forthcoming) Defining Girlhood in India: A Transnational History of Sexual Maturity Laws. University of Illinois Press.

Tambe, A. (2009). Codes of Misconduct: Regulating Prostitution in Late Colonial Bombay (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. South Asian edition published by Zubaan, 2009.

Tambe, A. and Fischer-Tiné, H. (eds) (2008). The Limits of Colonial Control in South Asia: Spaces of Disorder in the Indian Ocean. London: Routledge.

Tambe, A. (2018) “Reckoning with the Silences of #MeToo” Feminist Studies 44, 1:192-202.

Tambe, A. and Montague, C. (forthcoming) “Women’s Studies” in Nancy Naples (ed) A Companion to Gender Studies. London: Wiley.

Tambe, A. (forthcoming) “Indian Americans in the Trump Era: A Transnational Feminist Analysis” in L. Ayu Saraswati and Barbara Shaw (eds) Feminist and Queer Theory: A Transnational Reader. Oxford University Press.

Ramamurthy, P. and Tambe, A.  (2017) “Preface: Decolonial and Postcolonial Feminist Approaches: A Dialogue” Feminist Studies, 43, 3: 503-511.

Tambe, A. (2017) “The Women’s March on Washington: Words from an Organizer. An Interview with Mrinalini Chakraborty” Feminist Studies 43,1: 223-232.

Tambe, A. and S. Tambe (2013). “Sexual Incitement, Spectatorship and Economic Liberalization in Contemporary India,” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 15 (4).

Bhatia, R. and Tambe, A. (2013) “Raising the Age of Marriage in 1970s India: Demographers, Despots, and Feminists” in Women’s Studies International Forum

Tambe, A. (2011). “Climate, Race Science and the Age of Consent in the League of Nations,” Theory, Culture and Society, 28 (2): 109-130.

Tambe, A. (2010). “Contributions of Transnational Feminism: A Brief Sketch,” New Global Studies, 4:1, article 7.

Tambe, A. and S. Tambe (2010). “Commentary: Cheerleaders in the Indian Premier League,” Economic and Political Weekly, Sept 4, vol XLV, no 6, 18-21.

Tambe, A. (2009). “The State as Surrogate Parent: Legislating Nonmarital Sex in Colonial India, 1911-1929,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 2, 3, 393-427.

Tambe, A. (2009). “Gandhi’s Fallen Sisters: Difference and the National Body Politic,” Social Scientist, Special Issue on Gandhi, Jan-Feb, 37, 1-2, 21-38.

Tambe, A. (2006). “Brothels as Families: Transnational Feminist Reflections on 1920s Bombay Kothas,International Feminist Journal of Politics, 8, 2, 219-242.

Tambe, A. (2005). “The Elusive Ingénue: A Transnational Feminist Critique of Anti-Trafficking Efforts in Colonial Bombay,” Gender and Society, Special Issue on Transnational Analyses of Gender, Sexuality, and State/Nation, 19, 2, 160-179.

Tambe, A. (2000). “Colluding Patriarchies: Sexual Reform in Colonial India,” Feminist Studies, 26, 3, 587-600.

Tambe, A. 2017 “November 9” and “One Week Later” in Feminist Studies 42, 3: 568-569.

Public Writing:
Academic Minute segment: “What is Sexual Coercion?”  Inside Higher Ed January 4, 2018.

News analysis in The Conversation:
(Reprinted in Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle)

Columns about South Asian American politics and culture in Scroll:

Features for Women’s Media Center

Radio Interviews:
KCSZ FM 88.1 Santa Cruz “Voces Criticas” interviewed by Dr. Sylvana Falcon, Jan 4, 2018 and Jan 11, 2018

KPFA FM 94.1 Berkeley “Sunday Show” interviewed by Christina Aanestad, Dec 3, 2017.

Hidden Brain podcast “Why Now?” interviewed by Shankar Vedantam 2/5/2018