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Photo of Kapadia, Ronak K.

Ronak K. Kapadia, PhD

Director of Interdepartmental Graduate Concentration and Associate Professor

Gender and Women's Studies

Pronouns: he/him/his


Building & Room:

1218 UH


601 S Morgan St.

Office Phone:

(312) 996-2715



Ronak K. Kapadia (he/him) is Associate Professor and Director of the Interdepartmental Graduate Concentration in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and affiliated faculty in Art History, Global Asian Studies, and Museum & Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Previously, he was a 2019-2020 Visiting Scholar at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute of New York University, and he held a 2012-2013 University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Riverside. Kapadia received a BA with honors and distinction in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University, where he was awarded the Robert M. Golden Medal for Excellence in the Humanities, and he received his PhD in American Studies from the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University.

An interdisciplinary queer studies scholar of race, culture, war, and empire in the late 20th and early 21st century United States, Kapadia is author of Insurgent Aesthetics: Security and the Queer Life of the Forever War (Duke University Press, 2019) which won the 2020 Surveillance Studies Network Best Book Prize. Insurgent Aesthetics theorizes the world-making power of contemporary art responses to US militarism in the Greater Middle East. Kapadia’s writing appears in Journal of Popular Music Studies, Feminist Formations, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, Asian American Literary Review, Post45 Contemporaries, and edited volumes that include: Shifting Borders: America and the Middle East/North Africa, Critical Ethnic Studies: A Reader, and With Stones in Our Hands: Racism, Muslims and US Empire. With Simone Browne and Katherine McKittrick, Kapadia co-edited the 2017 special issue of Surveillance and Society on race and surveillance. He has also begun several new collaborative projects with colleagues at UIC, including a virtual seminar series on the reciprocal politics of bed space activism across contemporary social movements for disability justice, migrant justice, and abolition feminisms funded by the Mellon Humanities Without Walls Program and a new curatorial project with the emerging Veteran Art Movement (eVAM) under the relational framework of the two “forever wars” in United States history — the American Indian Wars and the “Global War on Terror.” Finally, Kapadia is at work on a new book-length project, entitled “Breathing in the Brown Queer Commons,” which examines race-radical queer and trans migrant futurisms and visual cultures to develop a critical theory of healing justice and pleasure across transnational sites of security, terror, and war and in the wilds of ecological chaos and US imperial decline. For a link to publications and upcoming events, you can see his website and follow his twitter.

Kapadia's broader research interests include critical studies of US empire, national security, and state surveillance; counterinsurgency policing and militarized warfare; visual culture and aesthetics; South Asian and Middle Eastern diasporas; queer and feminist criticism; radical social movements; and theories of affect, embodiment, and sensation. His research has been supported by the NYU Henry MacCracken Fellowship, the Mellon/ACLS Fellowship, the Consortium for Faculty Diversity in the Liberal Arts Colleges Dissertation Fellowship, the NYU Dean's Dissertation Award, the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, the UIC Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy Faculty Fellowship, the UIC Great Cities Institute Faculty Scholarship, the UIC LAS Dean’s Award for Faculty Research in the Humanities, and the Mellon Art History Publication Initiative. Kapadia has received awards for his undergraduate and graduate teaching from the UIC Teaching Recognition Program (2020-2021) and the NYU College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award (2010).

Kapadia is currently on the National Council of the American Studies Association (2020-2023) and the Advisory Board of the journal Verge: Studies in Global Asias (2022-2025), and he has held leadership positions with the Association for Asian American Studies (2010-2012) and the Newberry Library's Scholarly Seminar on Gender and Sexuality (2018-2020). Outside of academia, Kapadia has served on the board of directors of FIERCE, working to build the leadership and power of queer and trans youth of color in NYC.


PhD, American Studies, New York University