I was raised in the southern US state of Kentucky on a 12 acre farm nestled into the city of Louisville. I continue to be an avid horse rider, right now of a white Irish Draft/Thoroughbred mare named Miss Marple. Since the age of 17, I have studied and lived abroad, respectively, in India, the Pacific Northwest, Great Britain, and The Netherlands. Travel remains a passion of mine.
Currently I am an Assistant Professor in Cultural Analysis teaching at the Film and Literary Studies Department and Art History Department at the Leiden University Center for the Arts in Society (tenured). I coordinate the university-wide minor in Gender and Sexuality in Society and Culture and supervise PhDs on topics of film, media, digital culture, critical race theory, feminism and queer theory.
I am committed in my work to map out the interconnections of social realities with cultural productions, that is, how art-making can be socially embedded and culturally responsive. This synergy is also my lived reality as I have long collaborated on film festivals and art exhibitions that aim to improve the visibility of gender diversity (2003-present).
My long-time interest in transgender studies is due to the way it potentially innovates any discipline by challenging assumptions of binary organization of people, knowledge, and hierarchies. My research analyzes trans cultural production to understand how frameworks of visuality embedded in specific visual mediums shape one’s reading of bodily difference. I aim to affirm representations of trans embodiment while accounting for the difficulties of being seen as a legitimate person. I also identify as a non-binary trans person –some might say as genderqueer– and use the pronouns they/them/their. I describe my attitude towards my profession as “me-search” in the preface to my 2019 book Shimmering Images (Duke University Press).
I received my PhD in Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam in 2011 with a full fellowship from the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. My Masters in Cultural Studies (with distinction) was granted by the University of Leeds in 2004. I am also a proud Alumni of the Mahindra United World College of India and The Evergreen State College.
Since 2013, I serve as the first editor of arts and culture for TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly and from 2019 I am co-editor with Susan Stryker of Duke University Press’s new book series ASTERISK: Gender, Trans-, and All That Comes After. I am a founding editorial board member for the open access journal Capacious: Journal for Emerging Affective Inquiry and one of the managing co-editors of Museum & Society (University of Leicester).
Nationally I serve as a member of the Education Commission (Onderwijsraad) for the The Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies (NOG), which is the national affiliation body for all Research MA students, PhDs and faculty in Gender, Ethnicity and Diversity Studies. As a member of the Advisory Board of the NIAS-Lorentz International Science Center I evaluate various kinds of applications for interdisciplinary scholarship and activities. I am also a scientific member of the Advisory Board to the Queering the Collections (QTC) Network of The Netherlands.
Current Research Program:
I am the project leader the NWO Smart Culture project “The Critical Visitor: Intersectional Approaches for Rethinking and Retooling Accessibility and Inclusivity in Heritage Spaces” (2020-2025). The Critical Visitor investigates how heritage institutions can achieve inclusion and accessibility within their organization, collection, and exhibition spaces that meets the breadth of demands placed by today’s “critical visitors.” Fifteen heritage partners collaborate on activities to develop language and tools that dismantle intersecting oppressions, forms of exclusion, and marginalization. The project asks, “How can initiatives in the Dutch cultural sector become more intersectional, in the sense of developing multi-issue approaches to inclusion and accessibility?” Like our Facebook page to get updates on our activities.
I am an active member of a number of scholarly, activist and cultural organizations.
Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis (NICA)
Netherlands Research School for Gender Studies (NOG)
Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality (ARC-GS)
Leiden University Center for the Arts in Society (LUCAS)
SCHOLARLY NETWORKS & ASSOCIATIONS
Association for Cultural Studies (ACS)
Cultural Studies Association (CSA)
Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS)
International Research Association of Institutions of Advanced Gender Studies (RINGS)
National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA)
European Society for Literature Science and the Arts (SLSA-eu)
European Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS)
European Association for Gender Research, Education and Documentation (ATGENDER)
Somatechnics Research Centre, Institute for LGBT Studies, University of Arizona, US
Centre for Fine Art Research (CFAR), Birmingham Institute for Art & Design, UK
Institut für Queer Theory (Institute for Queer Theory), Berlin, DE
Vlaams-Nederlands Netwerk LGBT Onderzoek (Flemish-Dutch Network for LGBT research)
European Summer School for Cultural Studies (ESSCS)
The Netherlands Transgender Film Festival (NTGF)
TranScreen Amsterdam Transgender Film Festival
The European Queer Film and Arts Festival Alliance
Interviews given to the Dutch Press (2015-2016)
Review of my talk on Chris Rijksen’s photographic exhibition opening at IHLIA (January 21, 2013)
Trans-ErotiXXX workshop, “Get Bent! A Festival of Queer Diversity” (Manchester, 2007)
Introducing my film, FEETISH, “MIX NYC Queer Experimental Film Festival” (New York City, 2006).