Associate Professor of Sociology
Joined Connecticut College: 2008
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Transnational women's movements
Afshan Jafar’s research and teaching interests include globalization, transnational women's movements, fundamentalist and nationalist movements, gender, media, and the body. Professor Jafar regularly teaches, Introduction to Sociology; Sociology of the Body and Embodiment; Sex Gender, and Society; Sociology of Globalization.
Professor Jafar is the 2014 recipient of the The Helen Mulvey Faculty Award, presented to an assistant professor who regularly offers classes that challenge students to work harder than they thought they could and to reach unanticipated levels of academic achievement.
Her first book, "Women's NGOs in Pakistan" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 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?
Her next two books (edited collections with Erynn Masi de Casanova), "Global Beauty, Local Bodies" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and "Bodies Without Borders" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) bring together two fields: the study of globalization, and the study of the body and embodiment. These books show how globalization is experienced and embodied in particular ways, in specific locations. In a departure from previous studies, the research compiled in both the books takes as its starting point the intersection of bodies and globalization.
The chapters in "Global Beauty, Local Bodies" initiate a long overdue discussion that engages the local and the global simultaneously rather than being a catalogue of practices and ideals around the world. This innovative volume debuts original research and personal reflections on: media depictions of Nordic metrosexual athletes; prostitutes working at the U.S./Mexico border; beauty ideals among Somali migrants to Kenya; Nigerian beauty pageants, and the popularity of nose jobs among Iranian women, among other timely and understudied topics.
"Bodies without Borders" also features original empirical research and personal reflections on a range of migrating body practices and ideals that stretch across national boundaries: Zumba fitness classes, martial arts in Thailand, fashion blogs in Malaysia and Singapore, and the meanings of tattooing and body modification, among others.
Professor Jafar’s research has been published in journals such as Social Problems, Gender Issues, Critical Half and Sexuality and Culture. She is also a co-editor for a forthcoming (2015) special issue on gender and religion for the foremost journal in gender studies, Gender & Society. She is a regular contributing editor for the University of Venus blog at InsideHigherEd.com. Her blogs and columns have also been published in The Guardian (UK), Gender & Society Blog, Girl w/ Pen, and the Career Advice column for InsideHigherEd.
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