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Dr. Das Receives Imagine Fund Award

UMD Assistant Professor Devaleena Das
February 25, 2020

For her innovative research on the proposal "Unapologetic Human Anatomy in Feminist and Queer Art, Literature, and Dance."

Dr. Devaleena Das, assistant professor, Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies in the Department of Anthropology, Sociology & Criminology, received an Imagine Fund 2020-21 Award.

This proposal is part of my current book project titled Anatomophilia: A Transnational Approach to Liberation of the Body  to be published by State University of New York. In the last two decades, Western feminists have expanded body studies. Yet, not enough attention is given to non-western intersectional approaches to conjoined bodies, black and brown queer bodies, organ transplants and surrogacy across national borders, working class pregnant bodies, cancerous bodies, suicide bombers’ bodies, and lynched bodies. This research project analyzes transnationally various 21st century feminist and queer creative strategies of representation of deviant bodies in literature, visual art, and dance to resist racism, sexism, colorism, ableism and compulsory heterosexuality in the name of idealization of perfect bodies.

Some of the works that Dr. Das is examining include the exiled Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s photographs of Muslim women’s body parts, shape poetry of the Pakistani poet Imtiaz Dharker, metaphorical body parts in the poetry of Lucille Clifton, the corporeal modification of the South Asian dancer Manjusree Chaki, the Cambodian LGBTQ dance Prumsodun Ok & Natyarasa group, Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journal, and art work on shaggy wrinkled breasts by Western Desert Aboriginal women artists. Dr. Das proposes a feminist and queer corporeal  theory developed from the tribal black goddess Kali’s body in order to explain how love could discover manifold ways of honoring and respecting various bodies. The book aims to contribute to medical humanities by emphasizing that art, literature, and music could be therapeutic in medical science by showing how bodies characterized as disabled, ugly or queer could be beautiful when seen with alternative eyes.  

Learn more about the Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies program.