PhD, Department of Sociology, Simon Fraser University (Canada)
MA, Social Science, University of Colorado (US)
BA, Social Science, Middlesex University (UK)

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Studies and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. My scholarship is located at the intersection of the Social Sciences and Humanities. I study and work on critical race, postcolonial, transnational and feminist theory; intersectionality, social movements and critical social theory; colonialism, indigeneity and racial violence; globalization, citizenship and migration; South Asian women’s, gender and sexuality studies; representations of Islam and Muslims in South Asian and Western media; and Muslim Women, Islamophobia and the war on terror.

The geographical areas of my research include Canada, the US, South Asia and the South Asian diaspora.

My academic work is informed by a commitment to the scholarship of engagement and by my activism in the anti-racist, feminist and anti-war movements. In this capacity, I have served as:

* the Director of the Race, Autobiography, Gender and Age (RAGA) Center, which laid the groundwork for a Critical Race Studies Program at UBC (2008-2012);

* a founding member of Researchers and Academics of Colour for Equity (RACE), the cross-Canada network to promote the scholarship of academics of colour and of Indigenous Ancestry (2001-Present);

* the Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair of Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University (1996-2000);

* the first woman of colour President of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, Canada’s then largest feminist organization (1993-1996).

My research and teaching address emergent issues of concern to disenfranchised and marginalized communities, including within the University. I also work closely with women’s and community organizations and social movements in Canada and at the international level. I helped organize, and have spoken at, numerous international conferences, including the NGO Forum at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, the First International Women’s Conference on APEC in Manila, Philippines, the first Asian-Pacific Women’s Conference in the US, and the National Association of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Councilors and the Black Feminism conference in the UK.

In recognition of my scholarship of engagement, I have most recently been awarded the Sarah Shorten Award by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (2017) and the Hands Against Racism Community Award by Spice Radio (2017), among others.


Photo taken by Fatima Jaffer


* Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. (2007)

Authors: Sunera Thobani

Publication Link:

*States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century.  (co-edited with S. Razack and M. Smith) Toronto: Between the Lines (2010)

Authors: Sherene Razack, Malinda Smith and Sunera Thobani (Editors)

Publication link:

* Asian Women: InterConnections. Canadian Scholars’ Press/Women’s Press (2005)

Authors: Tineke Hellwig and Sunera Thobani (Editors)

Publication Link:

Select Journal Articles:

* ‘From Neo-Liberal Multiculturalism to Civilizational Exaltation: The Cultural Politics of the West’, Fudan Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences. (June, 2018) 11: 161-174.

* ‘The Secularity of Empire, the Violence of Critique: Islam, Race and Sexuality in the Politics of Knowledge Production’, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy.  Vol. 32, No. 3.  (Summer, 2017) 715-730.

*Sovereignty, Culture, Rights: The Racial Politics of Gendered Violence in Canada’, Borderlands. Vol. 14, No. 1. (2015) 1-27.

* ‘Performing Terror, Mediating Religion: Indian Cinema and the Politics of National Belonging’, International Journal of Communication. 7 (2013) 483-505.

* ‘Slumdogs and Superstars: Negotiating the Culture of Terror’, Studies in South Asian Film and Media, Vol. 1 Issue 2 (December 2009). 227-248.

* ‘Reading TWAIL in the Canadian Context: Race, Gender and National Formation’, International Community Law Review. Vol. 10. No. 4.  (2008) 421-430.

* ‘White Wars: ‘Western’ Feminisms and the ‘War on Terror’, Feminist Theory, Special Issue. 8(2).  (August, 2007). 169-185.

* ‘What’s Rights Got to do with It? Citizenship in an Age of Global Terror’, Supreme Court Law Review.  Vol. 33. Ottawa (2006).

Select Book Chapters:

* ‘Citizenship’, Coloma, R. S. & G. Pon (eds.) Asian-Canadian Studies Reader. Toronto: University of Toronto Press (2017). 29-48.

* ‘Race, Sovereignty and Empire: Theorizing the Camp, Theorizing Postmodernity’, Bakan, A. and E. Dua (eds.) Theorizing Anti-Racism: Linkages in Marxism and Critical Race Theories. Toronto: University of Toronto Press (2014). 280-310.

* ‘Fighting Terror: Race, Sex and the Monstrosity of Islam’, Razack, S. and S. Perera (eds.)  At the Limits of Justice: Women of Colour on Terror. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. (2014). 472-496.

* ‘Vigilante Masculinity and the War on Terror’, Tareq Y. Ismael and Andre Rippon (eds.)  Islam in the Eyes of the West. London: Routledge (2010) 54-75.

* ‘Gender and Empire: Veilomentaries and the War on Terror’, Chakravortty, P. and Zhao, Y. (eds.) Global Communications: Towards a Transcultural Political Economy. Boulder, CO:  Rowan & Littlefield. (2008) 219-242.

*  ‘Imperial Longings, Feminist Responses: Imagining Canadian Nationhood After  9/11’. Chunn, D. E., Boyd, S. B. and Lessard, H. (eds.) Reaction and Resistance: Feminism, Law and Social Change.  Vancouver: UBC Press. (2007) 98 – 123.

* ‘War Frenzy’, Crow, B. A. & Gotell, L. (eds.) Open Boundaries: A Canadian Women’s Studies Reader.  Prentice Hall. (2005). 134-139.

Other Select Publications

* ‘Prologue’, Haritaworn Jin, A. Kunstman and S. Posocco (eds.) Queer Necropolitics. London: Routledge. (2014) Xv-Xviii.

* ‘Interview – Sunera Thobani: A Very Public Intellectual’ (Interview by William K. Carroll), Socialist Studies. (Autumn, 2012). 8 (2). 12-30.

* ‘Breaking Consensus: The War on Terror, Islamophobia and Social Justice Movements’, Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action. Toronto: UTA Press (2011) Vol. 13.

*‘No Academic Exercise: The Assault on Anti-Racist Feminism in the Age of       Terror’, Racelink: The Newsletter of Researchers and Academics of Colour for Equity (Spring, 2008) 2-8.

* ‘The Fight For Feminism: An Interview with Sunera Thobani’, Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action. No. 5, Toronto: UTA Publications (2007). 47-59.


* Racial Violence, Islamophobia, War on Terror

* Islam, the West, Modernity and Gender

* Representations of Muslims in South Asian and Western Cinemas

* Citizenship, Migration, Race and the South Asian Diaspora

* Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism and Canadian Nation-State Formation

* Race and Coloniality in the Canadian University

Winter 2019

ASIA333 Contemporary South Asian Gender and Sexuality Studies Sections

Main theories and key concepts with a particular focus on the changing status of women, and gender and sexual minorities.

Winter 2019

ASIA389 Life Writings of South Asian Diasporic Women Sections

Auto/biographies and life writings of South Asian women in the Diaspora. Emphasizes theories of representation, subjectivity, agency, difference, and memory.

Winter 2019

ASIA399 Films of the South Asian Diaspora Sections

Contemporary films of the South Asian Diaspora, with a focus on Canada, US, and UK. Emphasizes theories of representation, visual and cultural analysis.

Winter 2019

ASIA433 The Cinematic Lives of Muslims in South Asia Sections

Depictions of Muslims in South Asian cinema, with a particular focus on the Hindi film industry.

Winter 2019

ASIA580A Directed Readings - DIRECTED READING Sections


* ASIA 333: Issues in Contemporary South Asian Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

* ASIA 438: The Cinematic Lives of Muslims in South Asia

* GRSJ 300: Intersectional Approaches to Gender Relations

* GRSJ 480: Thinking/Doing Social Justice: A Practicum


  • ‘Colonizing Critical Race Studies: Social (In)Justice in the Neo-Liberal Academy’, British Association of Canadian Studies, Senate House, University of London, UK (April 20, 2018).
  • Transnational Feminist Solidarities? Race, Gender and Politics of Empire, Keynote Address, Doha Institute of Graduate Studies, Qatar (December 12, 2017).
  • ‘Race, Gender and Settler Colonialism in the University’, Dalhousie and St. Mary’s Universities (November 17, 2017).
  • Feminist Ethics in an Age of Global Terror’, Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory Conference (FEAST), ‘Contested Terrains: Women of Colour, Feminisms, and Geopolitics’, Clearwater Beach, FL. US. (Oct 1-4, 2016).
  • ‘The Contemporary Crisis in Critical Theory’, Bangladesh Sociological Association, Sociology Department, Dhaka University ((January 11, 2016).
  • Gender, Media and Empire’, The Fifth Sino-Nordic Women and Gender Studies Conference, Social Science Forum of the Chinese Academy of Social Science, Beijing, China (22 September, 2014)
  • Feminism and Islamophobia: Making Sense of Race, Religion and Gendered Violence’, New Approaches to World Islamic and Middle East Studies, Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (March 15, 2014).
  • ‘Race, Rights and the Nationalizing State: Challenges to Anti-Racist Feminism in the Canadian Context’, Black Feminism Conference, Trafford Rape Crisis, Manchester, UK (March 9, 2012)
  • The War on Terror, Islamophobia and Social Justice Movements’, OPIRG, University of Toronto (September 13, 2011).
  • Equity Issues: Local and Global Social Justice Movements’, Congress 2010, McGill University, Montreal (May 31, 2010).
  • ‘The Crisis of American Masculinity’, The Human Condition Series, “Terror’, Laurentian University, Ontario. May 2, 2008.
  • ‘Perpetual Strangers? Immigrant Women, Canadian Nationhood and the Politics of Social Change’, NGOs and Women’s Empowerment Conference, Punjab University, Chandigarh, India (February 23, 2006).


  • Racial (Injustice) In the Canadian University: The Politics of Race, Diversity and Settler Colonialism, UBC, Vancouver. March 16, 2017. Co-Convener with UBC Faculty Association.
  • Race, Sex and Empire, Critical Race & Postcolonial Feminist Theory Group, Liu Institute, UBC (March 18, 2013). Workshop Convener.
  • Terror, Occupation, Partition: Making Meaning of Post/Colonial Violence: A Film Series, Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC (March 21-24, 2012.) Organizer.
  • Women for Peace: Multifaith Perspectives, UBC & SFU (February 2-4, 2012). Co-organizer.
  • Film Series (Fall, 2010 at UBC)
  • Community Film Series (Winter 2011, Langara College)
  • Dance and Women’s Empowerment, Fundraiser for Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (February, 2011). Organizer.
  • Social Justice Praxis: Theory, Research and Activism on Campus and in the Community (March, 2011). Co-organizer.
  • Islamophobia: Implications for Global Health, Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC, (January 20-21, 2011). Co-organizer.
  • Commemorating 100 Years of South Asian Presence in Canada (Nov. 17-23, 2008). Events organized in Vancouver, Surrey, New Westminster and Abbotsford, BC.