Elena Gambino

Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics



Pettengill Hall, Room 173



I am a Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics, working at the intersections of feminist, queer, and critical race theories, focusing in particular on how everyday political actors have deployed these traditions to build coalitions, how they seek to contest and repair the inequalities that underpin modern political communities, and how they imagine radical futures premised on racial and sexual accountability.

My research reconstructs the practices and theories of lesbian political groups ranging from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. In my work, I reconstruct the diverse political claims made by lesbian writers and activists by turning to lesbian political archives often overlooked by political theorists, such as the magazine Sinister Wisdom, showing that the practice of racial responsibility developed by lesbians such as Cherríe Moraga, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, and Monique Wittig, among others, offers valuable insights for theorists grappling with how to imagine more radical and accountable coalitions. Finally,I argue that while the political challenges posed by lesbians have historically been considered less sophisticated than queer theories, the lesbian conception of accountability is a point of contact with contemporary theories of grounded responsibility, such as in debates over Indigenous land and racial reparations.

At Bates, I teach courses at the intersection of Political Theory, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and History.  In particular, I am thrilled to offer courses less often offered as part of a political theory curriculum, such as Intersectional Political Theory: Lesbian, Black, and Indigenous Feminisms, The Household and Political Theory, and Sexuality in the Stacks: How the Archives Shape Political Memory. Each of these courses is designed to put the core questions of Political Theory – what is freedom? who gets to be free? what are the best ways to contest arbitrary power? – in conversation with Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies, anti-colonial political thought in the U.S., and on qualitative and historical methods.


Current Courses

Fall Semester 2019

GSPT 292
Political Freedom

GSPT 304
Intersectional Political Theory: Lesbian, Black, and Indigenous Feminisms

PLTC 457
Senior Thesis

Winter Semester 2020

PLTC 295
Reading Marx, Rethinking Marxisms

PLTC 297
The Household and Political Theory