A Message from National Women's Studies Association(NWSA)

A Message from NWSA President

Premilla Nadasen



November 6, 2020

Dear NWSA Members,

As so much hangs in the balance with this country’s political and economic future, we have witnessed thousands of people courageously taking to the streets to demand accountability, transparency and justice. The widening divide in the country, although troubling, is an indication that advocates for justice are refusing to remain silent, have mobilized at the ballot box, and organized in whatever way they can. As we stand on the precipice of a neo-fascist world order, this spirit of resistance embodies the belief that we should be more interested in staying true to our principles than compromise, to fight for justice rather than settle for accommodation. 

Alongside this, we at NWSA have been working hard to ensure that we continue to be an advocate and support for WGSS faculty and programs and people impacted by the widespread racialized and gendered violence.  Despite the many political, personal, professional and organizational challenges, I am heartened by NWSA’s contribution to imagining and building a better society at this historic moment. 

This week we should have been in Minneapolis gearing up for our annual conference on “The Poetics, Politics, and Praxis of Transnational Feminisms.” In choosing this theme my conference co-chairs and I were deeply committed to uplifting the transnational feminist work of NWSA, giving space to less prominent voices in NWSA, and working to strengthen relationships with constituency groups. I am disappointed that we cannot be together at this gathering that is intellectually stimulating and spiritually restorative for many of us. I know that many of you are deeply immersed in the political and academic work that undergirds NWSA. We will continue to work together and provide support, although remotely.  I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to conference co-chairs Robyn C. Spencer and Dana-Ain Davis for helping me envision the programming for this year. I also want to express gratitude to NWSA members who volunteered to review conference proposal submissions and the 2020 Review Chair Committee who adjudicated the submissions. 

I am happy to announce that the planned “The Poetics, Politics, and Praxis of Transnational Feminisms” conference will take place next year in Detroit, November 11-14, 2021. I look forward to seeing all of you there. Please stay tuned for more information. 

Although we are not able to meet in person this year, NWSA is committed to bringing timely and important conversations to the virtual public square. We hosted a plenary on Care Work and COVID with local and national activists and a keynote conversation with Representative Ilhan Omar and Barbara Ransby. I was inspired to see and hear about the fierce resistance to white supremacy and the collective response to the economic and health crises. 

We also have a series of upcoming events to mark #NWSA2020.   

Upcoming Events

  • Annual Membership Assembly Meeting:  Saturday, November 14, at 12:00pm EST Please register to attend the membership assembly meeting on our website. An agenda will be shared with all members prior to the meeting

  • Post-Election Presidential Plenary: November 13 at 5:00pm EST. Past, present and future NWSA presidents reflect on the US election. Please pre-register for this event.

  • See Constituency Group Business Meeting Schedule for details about the annual meetings of Caucuses, Interest Groups, and Task Forces. 

  • Complimentary Yoga Classes for NWSA members with Becky Thompson. Every Monday through December 21. 

Financial Update

Like most organizations, NWSA has taken a big financial hit because of the pandemic. We have streamlined much of our work and reduced expenses to cope with the budget crisis.

We recently launched the Fund Feminist Futures Campaign and also received a $25,000 grant from the Marguerite Casey Foundation.  We encourage you to continue to support NWSA through your membership renewals and donations. Our annual Financial Review will be posted as soon as it is complete.

New Governing Council Members

In addition to our regular election in the summer of 2020, the Governing Council held a special election for vacant seats in September. I would like to welcome the following newly elected members of our Governing Council 

Karsonya (Kaye) Wise-Whitehead, Incoming President (2020-2022)

Patti Duncan, Incoming Vice President (2020-2021)

Sonja Thomas, Incoming Secretary (2020-2021)

Angela Clark-Taylor, Incoming Treasurer (2020-2022)

Erica Williams, Incoming Member-at-Large (2020-2022)

Qiana Cutts, Incoming Member-at-Large (2020-2022)

A very special welcome to Kaye Wise-Whitehead, incoming NWSA president. Kaye is a longtime member and supporter of NWSA and has served in several NWSA leadership positions including Women of Color Caucus co-chair, Governing Council Secretary, and as a member of the Women of Color Leadership Project Advisory Council. Warm congratulations to the incoming GC members. I feel confident in their ability to lead NWSA through 2021. 

Since I came into office two years ago, the relentless attacks on WGSS programs worldwide, from defunding to harassment of faculty to the elimination of programs, has been a special concern of mine. As WGSS marks its 50th anniversary, it is alarming that we still have to fight for space and a voice and to defend our legitimacy.  In addition to our special presidential session last year and our 2019 Chair and Director meeting which highlighted this, in October we released a Data Brief on WGSS Programs and the COVID 19 Pandemic. The results of the survey were illuminating for the extent of the difficulties faced by programs around the country. NWSA continues to be an advocate for WGSS programs.  Our forthcoming membership to the American Council of Learned Societies, which is in its final review stage, will strengthen our ability to serve our membership. Please continue to reach out to us to let us know how we can better serve you,

This is a year like no other with the escalation of white supremacist violence, erosion of democratic processes, an unprecedented health crisis, growing numbers of Americans experiencing housing and food insecurity, and the power of an authoritarian state bearing down even harder, perhaps most evident in the recent White House Executive Order to Combat Race and Sex Stereotyping. At moments like this we need to redouble our resolve and move forward with greater clarity and confidence. We can be certain that our struggle for a world free of racism, sexism, heteropatriarchy, poverty, violence and inequity is more important than ever. If there is anything I have learned in my time as a scholar and activist over the past 3 decades, it is that collective engagement matters. We need to stand together as a community and use our skills, our analysis, and every form of protest at our disposal to build the kind of society we want to see. As someone recently told me, the greatest revolutions emerge from the greatest turmoil.

As I sign off with my last presidential letter, I want to extend a sincere thanks to Associate Director Jen Ash for her dedication to NWSA and invaluable assistance over the past few months and to the NWSA leadership and membership for their investment in and continued support of WGSS.  That is the work that inspires me. That is the work that will keep us going through this difficult period. Wishing each and every one of you, and your loved ones, peace, safety and good health.

In solidarity, 

Premilla Nadasen, NWSA President, 2018-2020