I am a lecturer in Gender, Sexuality, and Cultural Studies and the co-director of the Centre for Feminist Research at Goldsmiths. I joined the department in September 2018 and I currently convene the module Race, Empire and Nation.
My research lies in the intersections of gender, sexuality, race and 'everyday' politics and violence. I am interested in the affective and material structures, economies, and contours of 'everyday' violence and the questions these raise for thinking about subjectivity, space, agency, political mobilisations, intimacy, visual politics, regimes of gender, sexuality, and race, and the politics of women's violence. My doctoral dissertation (completed at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS, University of London in 2017) examines the 'everyday' mobilisations and violence of right-wing women in the Hindu nationalist movement in India and the Israeli Zionist settler project in Palestine. Titled, Right-Wing Sisterhood, it uses feminist, queer, and postcolonial theory, ethnographic and visual methods, and narrative writing and visual practice to interrogate the multiple subjectivities of women in violent cultural nationalist and settler colonial projects. My dissertation was awarded the Best Dissertation Award by the European International Studies Association (EISA) in June 2018. I am currently transforming this work into a monograph.
As an educator and teacher, I am interested in critical, intersectional, and decolonial pedagogies and the politics of teaching and the classroom. Inspired by bell hooks (Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, 1994), I think of the classroom as the 'most radical space of possibility in the academy' and shape and re-shape my pedagogical practices through constant engagement and conversations with my current and former students and with feminist colleagues of colour in academia, art, and activism. I am also an established photographer and aspiring filmmaker. In 2016, I was awarded the Rachel Tanur Memorial Prize in Visual Sociology by the International Sociological Association and I am currently learning and training to shape and build my visual and curatorial practice.
My research, teaching, and visual practice are deeply shaped by an ongoing engagement with three sets of questions. The first being questions on methods, methodologies, and ethics of intimate feminist and queer ethnographic and visual research with those deemed as 'violent' and 'difficult' interlocutors. The second being questions on narrative writing, story-telling, auto-ethnography, ethnography, and visual practice as research 'outputs' and pedagogical tools. The third being larger questions on the politics of knowledge production, on the politics of pedagogies and curricula, and on the politics of gender, sexuality, race, class, and (dis)ability in (higher) education, institutions, and universities.
From September 2016 to August 2018, I was a lecturer at the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex. While at Sussex, my colleague Dr Althea-Maria Rivas and I coordinated a decolonial and anti-racist pedagogical project called 'Mind the BAME Gap' that focussed on providing mentoring and support to students of colour in the university and on creating radical spaces of education, of joy, of politics, and of community within the university, spaces that refused the mere tokenism of 'inclusivity' and 'diversity' discourses and practices. At the University of Sussex, I taught both undergraduate and postgraduate modules and I was awarded two consecutive Student-Led Teaching Awards for Outstanding and Innovative Undergraduate Teaching (in 2016-17 and 2017-18).
I am on the editorial board for the Journal of Narrative Politics.
Mehta, Akanksha and Wibben, Annick T.R.. 2018. Feminist Narrative Approaches to Security. In: Caron E. Gentry; Laura J. Shepherd and Laura Sjoberg, eds. Routledge Handbook of Gender and Security. Routledge, pp. 48-58. ISBN 9781138696211
Mehta, Akanksha. 2019. Teaching Gender, Race, Sexuality: Reflections on Feminist Pedagogy. Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research, 5(1), pp. 23-30.
Mehta, Akanksha. 2015. The aesthetics of “everyday” violence: narratives of violence and Hindu right-wing women. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 8(3), pp. 416-438. ISSN 1753-9153