Premilla Nadasen is a native of South Africa who came to the United States with her parents at the age of five. She became involved in the anti-apartheid movement in high school and immersed herself in anti-racist activism on the campus of the University of Michigan where she was an undergraduate student. She moved to New York City in 1990. In 2012 she was asked by the Guggenheim Museum to write a personal narrative of her family’s history of migration, which was performed as part of the Museum’s Transhistoria Project in Jackson Heights Queens.
Nadasen earned her Ph. D. in history from Columbia University and taught for 15 years at Queens College, City University of New York. She is currently an Associate Professor of History at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she is affiliated with the Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, and the Institute for Research in African-American Studies. She also serves on the editorial board of the following academic journals: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, the Journal of Civil and Human Rights, and sits on the advisory committee of the New York Historical Society’s Center for the Study of Women’s History. Nadasen has given workshops and presentations for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the Ms. Foundation’s Economic Justice Program, the Department of Labor and the New York State Labor Committee.
Nadasen has written several books on welfare, including the award-winning Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States and, with Jennifer Mittelstadt and Marisa Chappell, Welfare in the United States: A History With Documents. She writes scholarly and popular articles about welfare, domestic work, social movements, and African American women’s history and has published in the Journal of Policy History, Feminist Studies, Race and Reason, Scholar and Feminist Online, Feminist Formations, Working USA, and the Journal of Civil and Human Rights. She co-authored, with Tiffany Williams, Valuing Domestic Labor, a policy brief that was a joint project of the Barnard Center for Research on Women and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
She has won numerous fellowships and honors for her work, including the American Studies Association’s John Hope Franklin Book Prize and the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Article Prize, and served as the first Visiting Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies at Brooklyn College. She has received grants for her research from the Aspen Institute, Williams College, the Mellon Foundation, the CUNY Graduate Center, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation.
Nadasen grounds her work in social justice, both by making contributions to theoretical understandings of social change and by making her writing accessible and relevant to social movement organizing. She believes that bridging the academic/community divide opens up a collaborative space between those inside and outside the academy where new synergies can emerge.
For a full list of academic publications see: www.barnard.academia.edu/PremillaNadasen