Photo of Kapadia, Ronak K.

Ronak K. Kapadia, PhD

Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor

Gender and Women's Studies


Building & Room:

1218 UH


601 S Morgan St.

Office Phone:

(312) 996-2715



Ronak K. Kapadia is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and affiliated faculty in Art History, Global Asian Studies, and Museum & Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. An interdisciplinary cultural theorist of race, security, sensation, 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 UP 2019). This book theorizes the world-making potential of contemporary artistic responses to US militarism in the Greater Middle East. Kapadia traces how new forms of remote killing, torture, confinement, and surveillance have created a distinctive post-9/11 infrastructure of racialized state violence. Linking these new forms of violence to the history of American imperialism and conquest, Kapadia shows how Arab, Muslim, and South Asian diasporic multimedia artists force a reckoning with the US War on Terror's violent destruction and its impacts on immigrant and refugee communities.


Kapadia’s broader research and teaching fields include: critical ethnic studies; race radical and transnational feminisms; queer of color critique; Arab/Muslim/South Asian diasporas; national security and surveillance; critical prison and military studies; visual and performance studies; affect and new materialisms; radical social movements; and US Empire. His writing also appears or is forthcoming in Asian American Literary Review, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Feminist Formations, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, International Journal of Cultural Studies, and edited volumes including: Shifting Borders: America and the Middle East/North Africa (AUB Press 2014), Critical Ethnic Studies: A Reader (Duke UP 2016), and With Stones In Our Hands: Writings on Muslims, Racism, and US Empire (U Minnesota Press 2018). With Simone Browne and Katherine McKittrick, Kapadia is co-editor of the spring 2017 special issue of Surveillance and Society on race, communities, and informers. Kapadia has also begun work on his second book project, tentatively titled Breathing in the Brown Queer Commons, which develops a critical theory of healing justice in the wilds of imperial decline and ecological chaos. For updated links to his publications and upcoming talks, you can see his website and follow his twitter.


Kapadia’s research has been supported by the NYU Henry MacCracken Fellowship, the Mellon/ACLS Fellowship, the Consortium for Faculty Diversity in the Liberal Arts Colleges, 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, and the UIC LAS Dean’s Award for Faculty Research in the Humanities. He has held leadership positions in the American Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies, and he currently co-coordinates the Newberry Library’s Seminar on Gender and Sexuality. Outside of academe, he is a former board member of FIERCE, a member-led community organization working to build the leadership and power of queer and trans youth of color in New York City and Sage Community Health Collective, a worker-owned health and healing justice collective in Chicago. You can follow his Spring 2018 Queer Theory (GWS 362) class Instagram account here and his Spring 2019 Feminism and Abolition (GWS 494) class Instagram here.


PhD, American Studies, New York University