Premilla Nadasen

Associate Professor

Department of History, Barnard College

Premilla Nadasen is a Visiting Associate Professor of History and is affiliated with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program.  Her research and teaching interests include women and gender, race, public policy, labor, poverty, and social movements. Prior to joining the faculty at Barnard she taught at Queens College, City University of New York.
Her book, Welfare Warriors, analyzed how grass-roots welfare activists forged a distinctive brand of feminism out of the political and cultural circumstances of their lives and in the process remapped the contours of radical politics and influenced the contested terrain of welfare policy.  Her current project examines how class, gender, race, culture and law constitute the meanings of the work of social reproduction and the ways in which domestic workers disrupted these meanings and claimed a right to organize as workers. Professor Nadasen has won fellowships and honors for her work, including the American Studies Association’s John Hope Franklin Book Prize, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Article Prize, and a Mellon Residential Fellowship at the CUNY Graduate Center. 
Nadasen is a long-time scholar-activist and works closely with community organizations. She has written policy briefs, served as an expert academic witness, and speaks widely on issues of labor and poverty.  She has written for Ms, the Progressive Media Project, as well as other media outlets.
Her book, Domestic Workers Unite!, on the history of domestic worker organizing in the United States is forthcoming from Beacon Press (2015). She is currently co-editing, with Eileen Boris, a special issue of the International Working-Class History Association journal on organizing domestic labor.

Academic Focus: 

U.S. History



Domestic Workers Unite!:  Household Workers’ Organizations (Beacon Press, 2015)

Rethinking the Welfare Rights Movement (Routledge 2012)

Welfare in the United States: A History with Documents, co-authored with Jennifer Mittelstadt and Marisa Chappell (Routledge 2009)

Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States (Routledge, 2005)

Selected Articles

“Citizenship Rights, Domestic Work, and the Fair Labor Standards Act” Journal of Policy History (January 2012)

“Is it Time to Jump Ship? Historians Rethink the Waves Metaphor” Kathleen Laughlin,  Julie Gallagher, Dorothy Sue Cobble, Eileen Boris, Premilla Nadasen, Stephanie Gilmore, and Leandra Zarnow Feminist Formations, (Spring 2010).

 “’Mothers at Work’: The Welfare Rights Movement and Welfare Reform in the 1960s” in The Legal Tender of Gender: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Welfare Law, State Policies and the Regulation of Women’s Poverty, ed. Shelley Gavigan and Dorothy E. Chunn, (Hart Publishing, 2010)

 “Power, Intimacy, and Contestation:  Dorothy Bolden and Domestic Worker Organizing in Atlanta in the 1960s” in Intimate Labors: Cultures, Technologies, and the Politics of Care, ed. Eileen Boris and Rhacel Parrenas (Stanford University Press, 2010)

“Sista’ Friends and Other Allies:  Domestic Workers United” in New Social Movements in the African Diaspora: Challenging Global Apartheid, ed. Leith Mullings (Palgrave MacMillan 2009) 

“We Do Whatever Becomes Necessary: Johnnie Tillmon, Welfare Rights, and Black Power” in Want to Start a Revolution?: Women in the Black Revolt, ed. Jeanne Theoharis, Dayo Gore, and Komozi Woodard (NYU Press, 2009)

“Domestic Workers Organize!” with Eileen Boris in Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society (December 2008)

 “’Welfare’s A Green Problem’: Cross-Race Coalitions in the Welfare Rights Movement” in Feminist Coalitions, ed. Stephanie Gilmore (University of Illinois Press, 2008)

“From Widow to ‘Welfare Queen’:  Welfare and the Politics of Race” Black Women, Gender, and Families, (Fall 2007)

"Expanding the Boundaries of the Women's Movement:  Black Feminism and the Struggle for Welfare Rights" Feminist Studies (Summer 2002) 

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