Imagine Otherwise: Nitasha Tamar Sharma on Recalibration and Balance

Nov 11, 2021 | Podcast

We’re reaching that time of year when the days shorten and we start to wonder if we’ll get everything done we wanted to this year. In this season, many of us yearn for more balance in our daily routines and the second year of an ongoing global pandemic has made that feeling even more intense.

What does balance even mean in this context and how can we cultivate it in ways that feed our collective desires for justice?

In episode 143 of Imagine Otherwise, I interview Nitasha Tamar Sharma, whose scholarly, pedagogical, and creative work demonstrates the worldmaking possibilities that live at the intersections of movements for racial, gender, and sexual justice.

In our conversation, Nitasha and I chat about what balance means during a pandemic as well as across the course of interdisciplinary careers.

She shares how she has learned to recalibrate her work and life to better align with the impact she wants to have on the world, including privileging holistic mentoring and collective care in how she approaches publishing and book promotion.

Finally, we close out the episode with Nitasha’s vision for forging solidarities that can extend beyond the present and into more just futures.

Nitasha Tamar Sharma wearing gold hoop earrings. Quote reads: Balance for me is not something I can think of attaining in the day-to-day. But I think of it as a marathon. There are moments, which might include years, in which I put my attention in one area more than the other, never to fully neglect the other. I’m also recalibrating my ideas about what I want at different stages.

Nitasha Tamar Sharma

Nitasha Tamar Sharma is a professor of African American studies and Asian American studies at Northwestern University and a faculty fellow with the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR). Nitasha analyzes inter-minority relations to understand racisms across non-white groups and ethnographically chart models of broad scale solidarities.

She is the author of Hawai‘i Is My Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific (Duke University Press, 2021), an ethnography of Black life in the Hawaiian Islands that analyzes race and Indigeneity through Black and Hawaiian relations and documents anti-Black racism in “paradise.”

She is also the author of Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness (Duke University Press, 2010), a cultural studies ethnography that charts the lives and music of South Asian American hip hop artists whose racialization illuminates alliances among Black and Asian communities in the US.

Working toward a more just world for all people is how I end my book. It’s how I end every class that I teach. It’s the reason I’m in ethnic studies and not in another kind of field. It’s the reason why I’m a professor.

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