Premilla Nadasen is a professor of history at Barnard College and a scholar-activist who writes and speaks on issues of race, gender, social policy and labor history. She is most interested in visions of social change, and the ways in which poor and working-class people, especially women of color, have fought for social justice. She has published extensively on the multiple meanings of feminism, alternative labor movements, and grass-roots community organizing.

In addition to her writing, Nadasen has been engaged with social justice work for many years, including anti-apartheid and anti-racist activism, labor rights, feminism, immigrant rights, and low-income women’s advocacy. For the past 10 years she has worked closely with the domestic workers’ rights movement. Nadasen bridges her scholarship and activism, striving to make her research accessible and relevant. She speaks on college campuses and to community and activist groups and has written for newspapers, blogs and magazines, including Ms. Magazine and the Progressive Media Project.

She is the author most recently of Household Workers Unite (Beacon 2015), a history of domestic worker activism in the post-war period.



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In this groundbreaking history of African American domestic-worker organizing, scholar and activist Premilla Nadasen shatters countless myths and misconceptions about an historically misunderstood workforce. Resurrecting a little-known history of domestic-worker activism from the 1950s to the 1970s, Nadasen shows how these women were a far cry from the stereotyped passive and powerless victims; they were innovative labor organizers who tirelessly organized on buses and streets across the United States to bring dignity and legal recognition to their occupation.
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Alice Kessler-Harris

“Nadasen’s stirring account relies on the voices of household workers to expose the routine indignities and hopeful aspirations that encouraged some of the most disadvantaged American women workers to organize others. Nadasen’s empathetic, yet unflinching, narrative introduces us to a powerful form of historical storytelling. Bravo.”

Alice Kessler-Harris author of A Woman’s Wage: Historical Meanings and Social Consequences
Angela Davis

“Here at last is the story that finally positions black domestic workers at the center of mid-twentieth-century civil rights and anti-racist movement history. In the process of fighting for their rights as citizen-workers, the women whose phenomenal lives are explored in Household Workers Unite forged a legacy that deeply informs our social justice struggles today.”

Angela Davis Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz


The Welfare Rights Movement provides a short, accessible overview of this important social and political movement...It is perfect for anyone wanting to obtain an introduction to the welfare rights movement of the twentieth century.

"Armed with their own brand of feminism in the 1960s and 70s, Premilla Nadasen's Welfare Warriors fought militantly and relentlessly against racism, sexism and dehumanizing poverty."

"Three cheers for Nadasen, Mittelstadt, and Chappell for this stimulating- and provocative - introduction that highlights the significance of race and gender in women's lives."