Kathy Davis is currently senior research fellow in the PARIS research program and the Department of Sociology at the VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Born in the US, she has taught psychology, sociology, and gender studies at universities in Europe and the Netherlands. Since 1990, she has worked as associate professor in women's studies and, later, as senior researcher at the Institute of History and Culture at Utrecht University. She has held visiting chairs and research fellowships in the United States at Wellesley College, Columbia University, the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies at Harvard University as well as in Germany (Maria Jahoda Chair for International Women's Studies), Sweden, Austria, and Finland.
She has a long-standing interest in feminist scholarship on women's bodies and health. Her work is situated at the cutting edge between cultural studies, gender studies, and the sociology of the body. She has published extensively on contemporary feminist approaches to the body, interaction between physicians and women patients, cultural constructions of beauty and beauty practices (PDF), and the political and ethical dimensions of surgical technologies, transnational feminist health politics, and tango as global dance culture. Her research interests also include sociology of the body, intersectionality (PDF) travelling theory and transnational practices, new forms of body activism, the use of emotions in critical inquiry, biography as methodology, and critical and creative strategies for academic writing (PDF). She is currently editing an international handbook on intersectionality studies with Helma Lutz and a book on Silences, neglected feelings and blind-spots in research practice is forthcoming (with Janice Irvine; see News and Books).
She has taught courses at undergraduate and graduate levels on the sociology of the body; body politics in a transnational context; representations of gender and race; intersectionality; transnational feminism; the rhetoric and ethics of public and scientific debates; qualitative methods of social research; and academic writing.
Kathy Davis is the author of Power under the Microscope (Foris, 1988), Reshaping the Female Body (Routledge, 1995), Dubious Equalities and Embodied Differences (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003) as well as several anthologies: The Gender of Power (Sage, 1991), Negotiating at the Margins (Rutgers University Press, 1992), Embodied Practices: Feminist Perspectives on the Body (Sage, 1997), The Handbook of Gender and Women's Studies (Sage, 2006) with Mary Evans and Judith Lorber, Transatlantic Conversations. (Ashgate, 2011) with Mary Evans, Dancing Tango: Passionate Encounters in a Globalizing World (NYUPress, 2015), and Contested Belongings: Spaces, Practices, Biographies (Emerald, 2018) with Halleh Ghorashi and Peer Smets.
Her book The Making of Our Bodies, Ourselves: How Feminism Travels Across Borders (Duke, 2007) explores how feminist knowledge and body/politics circulate transnationally, using the feminist classic on women and health, Our Bodies, Ourselves, as a case in point. This book was the recipient of several prizes: the Distinguished Book Prize for 2008 from the American Sociological Association Section Sex and Gender, the Eileen Basker prize from the American Anthropological Association, and the Joan Kelly prize for women's history from the American Historical Association.
She was the president of the research committee Biography & Society of the International Sociological Association from 1994 to 2002. Together with Mary Evans, Gail Lewis, and Dubravka Zarkov respectively, she co-edited The European Journal of Women's Studies from 2003 to 2017. The journal honoured her with a farewell conference and a special edition of the journal which included her editorials on 'hot topics' in the field of gender studies and feminist scholarship and tributes from those who have worked with her over the past decades. [ Farewell to Kathy Davis: European Journal of Women's Studies: SAGE Journals (sagepub.com) ]
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