Read. Watch. Listen. with Bipasha Baruah

Read. Watch. Listen. introduces you to the personal side of our faculty, staff and alumni. Participants are asked to answer three simple questions about their reading, viewing and listening habits – what one book or newspaper/magazine article is grabbing your attention; what one movie or television show has caught your eye; and what album/song, podcast or radio show are you lending an ear to.

Women’s Studies and Feminist Research professor Bipasha Baruah is the Canada Research Chair in Global Women’s Issues.

Today, she takes a turn on Read. Watch. Listen.

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All of Us in Our Own Lives by Manjushree Thapa. I love the way this novel weaves together issues of contemporary global relevance such as migration, globalization, poverty and inequality, aging and death, transnational caregiving and transracial adoption through the circumstances, obligations and choices of its cast of characters.

As someone whose response to the question “Where are you from?” has always been “How much time do you have to listen?” the themes of home and belonging in this novel as well as those about complicated identities, affiliations and personal journeys also resonated deeply with me.

I decided to assign this novel as a required reading for my undergraduate course on global gender issues because through its engagement with topics such as education, employment, labour, social inequality, trafficking, issues faced by sexual minorities and social vulnerabilities faced by men, it conveys exactly what I try to impress upon students: that the personal is political, and the personal is global. The novel begins and ends in Canada, but also takes the reader to the United States, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, Nepal and India.


Blinded by the Light Directed by Gurinder Chadha.

I watched this recently on a long transatlantic flight. I decided to watch it simply because it was directed by Gurinder Chadha whose earlier films (Bend it Like Beckham, for example) I loved.

Blinded by the Light is inspired by a true story about a British teenager of Pakistani origin experiencing racism and economic turmoil in Luton, England, in 1987. Javed writes poetry as a way to contend with the racism he experiences in his hometown and the expectations of his loving but conventional immigrant parents. When a classmate introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen, Javed finds a way to build a bridge to his ambitions of being a writer without building a wall between himself and his family.

Like Javed, I grew up in the 1980s loving the music of Bruce Springsteen. I loved the film for that reason alone. I also couldn’t help reflecting upon it in the contemporary context of Brexit and the resurgence of xenophobia and ethnonationalism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the world.


Politically Re-Active with W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu.

They take on everything – wars, elections, colonialism, race, representation, identity, inequality, LGBT issues, privilege, feminism, mansplaining – incisively but without being polemical. Hari Kondabolu’s stand-up comedy shows are currently on high school and college curricula across the United States for precisely these reasons.  I would love to invite him to Western.

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