Meet our Faculty : Dr. Jyoti Puri
As a senior faculty member in Simmons's Gender/Cultural Studies (GCS) program, Professor Jyoti Puri asks provocative questions at the intersection of society and politics — questions rooted in issues of immigration, race and gender diversity, sexuality, and class. "We're living in a particularly dynamic, charged moment," she says. "So it's urgent that we discover a conceptual and critical basis to think about these issues: how do we come at them and what might we do about them?" For Puri, one response is to take on bold and powerful research.
Puri's areas of interest include sexuality, gender, nationalism, states, and transnational feminist studies. Drawing on her background in sociology, her first book, Woman, Body, Desire in Post-colonial India: Narratives of Gender and Sexuality, examined the effect of sexuality and gender on upper- and middle-class women in Bombay and Delhi. For her latest project — a book about laws governing homosexuality in India — Puri interviewed police, activists, state and national officials, and gay individuals in five cities, including her native Mumbai. Like many gender/cultural studies topics, this one inspires new branches of inquiry. "I'm excited to start comparing the U.S. and India in terms of racial politics and sexual states," says Puri.
Advancing a Vision
Puri is also dedicated to keeping the GCS program — one of the first in the country — truly innovative. That means a curriculum that not only cuts across disciplines but also emphasizes flexibility, intellectual rigor, and personal passion. She points to two recent capstone projects that embody the program's progressive mission: the first analyzes the applicability of American queer theory to French culture, while the second explores issues of self-identity in Haitian- American women.
The Common Thread
Although the program's research is fascinatingly varied, Puri says that GCS graduates share formidable strengths. "Our students come away able to understand social and political worlds more deeply, no matter what areas or environments they work in," she says. "They have the critical basis to connect to the issues that shape our lives."