Interview with Harjant Gill

Dublin Core


Interview with Harjant Gill


Women's studies; Women's rights--Cross-cultural studies ; Ethnographic films; Transnationalism; Transnational education; Motion pictures and transnationalism; South Asia


This is an interview with Harjant Gill. Dr. Gill is a Professor of Anthropology at Towson University. His course focus on topics of visual anthropology and filmmaking. Gill is also an awarded filmmaker who continues to produce films about gender, sexuality, religion, and transnational movement in South Asia, particularly in India. The interview covers topics of visual anthropology, ethnographic film, and alternative pedagogical practices that can be used in these fields.


Lang, Abigail
Gill, Harjant






College of Wooster Libraries


Presented with permission from Harjant Gill

In copyright










College of Wooster; Townsen University

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Lang, Abigail


Gill, Harjant


College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio


[00:00:02] Abigail Lang: Ok. I am Abby Lang (waves) I am a WGSS and History double major. I am here today on September 14th, 2018 with Harjant Gill from Towson University. So, my first question today is about your primary area of study and how you incorporate queer and feminist pedagogy into your approach to teaching?

[00:00:25] Harjant Gill: Yeah. Well, thank you for having me here. I teach anthropology and I’m an ethnographic filmmaker. I teach courses that are in gender, that are in ethnographic film, that are based in South Asia. Most of my work is on masculinities, gender, and sexuality in South Asia. So, in addition to focusing specifically on queer and feminist issues in South Asia, a lot of the courses that I teach tend to focus on, looking at queer and feminist representations in ethnographic film. And also… I try to privilege narratives that are made by or from the perspective of queer and feminist film makers, as well as diasporic film makers, as well. So, kind of broadly, transnational feminist filmmakers.

[00:01:26] AL: Mmhmm. Alright, and who or what are some of your biggest influences in feminist and queer pedagogies? So that could be anything from teachers, mentors, books, even life experiences or people just within you field?

[00:01:41] HG: Well, I will talk about films instead of books, because there aren’t a lot of books out there that are very influential [where ethnographic film is concerned. Although] I should say, you know, Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan’s work, [specifically, the book Scattered Hegemonies” on] feminist critique and pedagogies is very influential. But most importantly in terms of films I think the filmmakers who’ve had the most sort of influence on my work is Marlon Riggs, who is a queer African American filmmaker and he made Tongues Untied, which is the film that made me to want to pick up a camera and make a film and be a filmmaker. As well as the work of Trinh T Minh-ha. She’s an ethnographic filmmaker. You know, I think a lot of the people who really inspire me tend to be people who are working on the margins or the boundaries or not necessarily part of the canon or are usually excluded from the canon. And you know, so that tends to be my, my sort of area where I draw my influence.

[00:02:59] AL: Ok, and when was a time where you saw feminist or queer pedagogy have a positive influence or work well implemented in the classroom?

[00:03:08] HG: (pause) Hmm. That’s a good question.
[00:03:17] AL: Mmhmm. And the follow up question to that would be what kind of challenges do you think professors face bringing these into the classroom?

[00:03:25] HG: Mmhmm.

[00:03:26] AL: So like, in implementing the techniques, even the classroom dynamic or even a more institutional level, bringing queer and feminist pedagogy into the hiring process, reviews, promotion, and tenure, like the institutional level.

[00:03:41] HG: Of course. So, let me begin with the challenges first and then I’ll take about, you know, successes that I’ve had. I’d say that often times when you’re teaching a kind of knowledge base such as anthropology, which is you know, [an] established discipline, there is an impulse to do kind of do a chronological history of anthropological thought or anthropological theory or ethnographic film or visual anthropology, whatever discipline you’re in. When you’re in sort of a more established discipline you tend to kind of do a chronology and what that does is that tends to privilege a very particular non-queer, you know, non-margins narratives tend- things that are already partly established, academic (makes finger quotes) framework, you know, and knowledge base and what I find that in my work what I do is I tend to kind of flip that around and we begin from the margins and work towards the center and what I find [is] that students then are not thinking about my discipline of anthropology as something that is done in the past, you know? Which, that, if they don’t get or they don’t understand what anthropologists from a hundred years ago or even fifty years ago were talking about or what, that they’re not getting the discipline, you know, I think it can be very sort of, a way of freeing them up to allow them to experiment and realize that this is a discipline that has- that is very multi- it’s multifaceted and has all sorts of different approaches and lots of people who have experimented in different ways and some experiments that have been successful, some haven’t really been successful, some theoretical models that have been useful, some that haven’t been useful. So, by kind of breaking out of that chronological order of things, of that progressive movement of knowledge or acquisition of knowledge, you know, I like to think that my students have a much more transformative experience when I approach my field, my course, with a specifically queer feminist pedagogical perspective… An intention really, because that requires a particular kind of intention to be able to do that.

[00:06:25] AL: And what motivated you to participate in this workshop today and what do you hope to get out of it?

[00:06:33] HG: Well, it’s… So, I’m just in the process… of starting my position as an associate professor. I just got tenured and this next coming year I will hopefully have a sabbatical and that’ll give me an opportunity to revamp and revise some of my courses that I’ve been teaching for the past 5, 6 years. And even though I really enjoy teaching them, they’re beginning to get a little stagnant. So, I thought being- participating in this workshop would allow me to be able to you know, sort of think about and learn from other queer feminist scholars in my field and in related fields and look at their approaches to teaching and maybe that will inspire me to do the same and as I think about how my classes and my pedagogy evolves, how can I improve on what I’ve been doing and these sort of workshops are really great places to do that because it’s a very intimate environment where you can have this exchange of ideas and suddenly like lots of lightbulbs go off in your head and so that’s why I’m here really, to just be stimulated intellectually. (laughs) And, you know, to sort of recharge almost.

[00:08:02] AL: And finally, is there anything that we have not discussed that you would like to bring up?

[00:08:06] HG: Uh, no, I think we’ve covered a lot of it. (laughs)

[00:08:09] AL: Ok, well, thank you for coming today.

[00:08:10] HG: Thank you so much, thank you for having me.





Lang, Abigail and Gill, Harjant, “Interview with Harjant Gill,” WGSS at Wooster: Past, Present, and Future , accessed July 22, 2024,