Afshan Jafar

Afshan Jafar, Associate Professor of Sociology

Assistant Professor of Sociology
Joined Connecticut College: 2008

B.A., Ohio Wesleyan University; Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Transnational women's movements
Nationalist and fundamentalist movements
Muslim immigrants in the U.S.

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Afshan Jafar joined Connecticut College in 2008 as an assistant professor of Sociology.

Her forthcoming book, Women’s NGOs in Pakistan (Palgrave Macmillan), uncovers the skillful maneuvering that women’s NGOs have to perform in order to survive a hostile environment. How do NGOs overcome the suspicion and perception of them as Western agents? What means do they employ to convince people that contrary to common perceptions, they are not there to “lead women astray from Islam” nor are they going to make them “shameless"? And how, in a country like Pakistan, where poverty, violence, fundamentalism, ethnic conflict are wide-spread, do women’s NGOs convince people that women’s issues merit attention in the first place?

Drawing on interviews, participant observation and published materials, she analyzes the strategies and modes of argumentation used by Pakistani women’s NGOs to advance women’s rights in a conservative and antagonistic environment. She has published many articles in Social Problems, Gender Issues, Critical Half and Sexuality and Culture. She is also a regular contributor for University of Venus at

Her current research explores the role of globalization as it paradoxically dismantles and reinforces colorism among South Asians. She focuses on the following questions: What is the significance of skin color among South Asians today? To what extent have colorism and the quest for lighter skin via skin bleaching become entrenched among the younger generations of South Asians who are exposed to global media and marketing? What, if any, are the differences in the degree of importance accorded to one’s skin color among South Asians living across the globe?

Afshan Jafar teaches Introduction to Sociology; Family Analysis and Lifestyles; Sex, Gender, and Society; Gender and Media; and Sociology of Globalization.

Visit the sociology department website.