College of Social SciencesUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa
Department of Sociology



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Nandita Sharma

Nandita Sharma

Associate Professor


Ph.D. University of Toronto

Dr. Sharma received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Sharma is an activist scholar whose research is shaped by the social movements she is active in, including No Borders movements and those struggling for the commons. She is the author of Home Economics: Nationalism and the Making of 'Migrant Workers' in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2006). She is also the co-editor (with Bridget Anderson and Cynthia Wright) of a Special Issue of the journal Refuge on “No Borders As a Practical Political Project” (26:2, released Fall 2011/dated Fall 2009).>



Nandita Sharma's research interests address themes of human migration, migrant labor, national state power, ideologies of racism and nationalism, processes of identification and self-understanding, and social movements for justice. Dr. Sharma is currently involved in a research project examining the social and historical construction of a divide between those variously constituted as "indigenous" or as "migrants" through the idea that only "natives" belong in the spaces designated as "native" land. She is also actively involved in research on the national state's organization of temporary, migrant workers who are rendered unfree by the terms of their immigration status. Dr. Sharma is also involved in collective research/activism that is trying to rejuvenate the demand for common lands here in Hawai'i as well as around the world.



Racism; nationalism; citizenship; state power; identification and self-understanding; globalization and transnational processes; politics of multiculturalism; social stratification, post-colonialism and; contemporary sociological theory

Dr. Sharma has supervised Ph.D. and M.A. projects in Sociology and served as a member of Ph.D. and M.A. committees in Sociology, Anthropology, Geography, Political Science, Adult Education and Law.



“The Cultural Logics of Neo-Racism: Migrants as Colonizers in Asian Settler Colonialism,” Hawaiian Journal of History. (2010) : A critical book review of Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance To the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai’i. Edited by Candace Fujikane and Jon Y. Okamura. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. 2008. Type: Article in international or national refereed journals

Co-Editor of the journal Refuge (Special Issue: No Borders: A Practical Response to State Controls on People’s Migration) (2010) : As nation states across the world enact ever-more restrictive immigration policies, there exists, simultaneously, a large and growing international movement of people. This paradox has led to a growing recognition of the ideological character of border controls: what is restricted is not migration per se but the rights and protections available to those who move across and into nationalized spaces. Such a situation calls into question the purposes served by the entire array of contemporary migration controls - the totality of which has made many migrants more vulnerable and their lives and livelihoods more precarious. One important and under-examined response to this situation is the emergence of calls for No Borders, appeals made on the basis of inter-related ethical, political, social and economic grounds. An explicit challenge to states’ claimed right to control people’s mobility, these appeals signal a new sort of liberatory project, one with new ideas of society and aimed at creating new social actors not identified with nationalist projects (projects deeply racialized, gendered, classed, and sexualized). As a practical, political project develops against borders, its relevance to other political projects grows, often challenging them in profound ways. There is a mounting need, therefore, to open an intellectual and political environment in which arguments for No Borders are further debated. In this Special Issue, contributors discuss the historical context for the emergence of No Border politics; critical examinations of specific or comparative No Borders/Open Borders arguments, projects and movements; the relationship of No Borders to other ideas and movements and; how arguments for No Borders take up issues of: colonization, identity and ‘belonging’, political community, labour organizing, and processes of capitalist globalization.
Type: Co-Editor of Special Issue of an International Journal Co-Authors: Bridget Anderson, Cynthia Wright Keywords: No Border politics, nationalism

“The Racialization of Space and the Spatialization of Belonging,” in The White Supremacist State: Eurocentrism, Imperialism, Colonialism, Racism” Arnold Itwaru (ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. (2009) Type: Chapters in books Keywords: Racism, White Nationalism, Belonging, Immigration Status

“Decolonizing Resistance, Challenging Colonial States,” Social Justice, 35:3. pp.120-138. (2009) : This essay responds to Bonita Lawrence and Enakshi Dua’s arguments in “Decolonizing Racism” that anti-racist theory excludes Aboriginal concerns; anti-racist praxis has “contribute[d] to the active colonization of Aboriginal peoples”; and that “people of color are settlers.” Challenging the conflation between migration and colonialism, this essay argues that the expansion of the category of “settler colonizer” to include all “non-Natives” has emerged within the context of the political consolidation of neo-liberalism and neo-racism. It concludes by considering ways to undo the “indigenous”/“migrant" divide by working towards anti-racist practices that are fully cognizant of the necessity of anti-nationalist and anti-capitalist decolonization. Type: Articles in international or national refereed journals Co-Authors: Cynthia Wright Keywords: settler colonialism; migration; neo-liberalism; neo-racism; indigeneity; commons; nationalism; de-colonization

“Organizing the Motley Crew and Challenging the Security of National States” in Activist Scholarship: Social Movements and Emancipatory Knowledge, Julia Sudbury and Margo Okazawa-Rey (eds.). Boulder, Co.: Paradigm Publishers. (2009) : In this paper, we examine the ideological split between academics and activists through a reflection on our planning of a transnational forum aimed at better uncovering, and more effectively countering, the “national security” agendas of North American states (Canada, US, Mexico). Type: Chapter in Book Co-Authors: Cynthia Wright

“Citizenship and the Disciplining of (Im)migrant Workers in the United States,” in Refugees, Recent Migrants and Employment: Challenging Barriers and Exploring Pathways, Sonia McKay (ed.) London: Routledge. (2008) : This chapter provides, first, a broad sketch of the current labour market position of various (im)migrant workers in the U.S. followed by an historical examination of legislative developments that have led to the positioning of the vast majority of contemporary (im)migrants as cheapened and weakened persons labouring in the fields, factories, fast-food restaurants, hospitals and carehomes, schools, convenience stores, and even, rarely, in the board rooms of the U.S. I employ the theoretical understanding of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari that forms of exclusion are better understood as methods of “differential inclusion” I will discuss how the exercise of state disciplinary power is central to the separation, differentiation and individualization of the social processes that subordinate most (im)migrant workers. I will also discuss how the dominant rhetoric of “border order” in the U.S. works ideologically to legitimate what can only be called a form of “global apartheid” operating in the U.S. labour market, an apartheid that creates hierarchal legal positions for various groups of people according to their national status in the country. By way of a conclusion, I will examine recent efforts at organizing for progressive change by (im)migrants and their supporters and the attempts to shift and even open up the discourse on (im)migrant rights to incorporate all subordinated workers in the U.S. as well as globally. The emergence of significant trends within the (im)migrant rights movement to turn it into part of the global movement for social justice provides us with a way of linking U.S. immigration policy to not only other U.S. policies (military, foreign, trade, etc.) that lead to people’s displacement and mobility but to expand our understanding of how national immigration policies can only rightly be understood within the global geo-political, economic and cultural contexts. Type: Chapter in Book

“A Dot and a Line: ‘Race’, Space and the Making of a Global Apartheid,” Cultural Studies Monthly, Issue No.71 (August). pp.39-53. (2007) : The formulation of an H Visa category in the United States (US) (which itself is separated into three different types of H Visas, each with their own selection criteria and set of regulations) produces a guest worker program of temporary migrant labour recruitment. In this paper, I will discuss the effects of the H Visa category upon the lives of individuals’ positioned within the national space of the US as ‘guest workers’. What does the existence of a category of people named ‘guest workers’ tell us about the character of social relations within the U.S.? This is a timely project as current policy debates and social mobilizations on immigration centre precisely on the expansion of the guest worker system. Indeed it is being touted by some as a “humanitarian” alternative to having people live and work as “illegal” migrants. Type: Articles in international or national refereed journals Keywords: USA H-Visa Program, guest workers

“Freedom To Discriminate: National State Sovereignty and Temporary Visa Workers in North America,” in Citizenship, Multiculturalism and Immigrant Incorporation Regimes in North America. Gökçe Yurdakul and Y. Michal Bodemann (eds). New York: Palgrave-Macmillan. pp.163-184. (2007) : In this paper, I ask whether we can rightly discuss the integration of immigrants in a context where a growing number of migrants are denied the rights of ever making a home in the places they live and work. My tentative answer to this question includes an obvious point: any discussion of integrating immigrants into Canadian society that fails to take into account the fact that state policies in Canada have created a separate legal regime for large numbers of people to ensure that they remain outside of the mainstream of these societies is unable to fully grasp the character of immigration policy formulation or the policies ostensibly aimed at integrating non-Whites into the mainstream of Canadian society. Moreover, to move in the direction of full equality, we must ensure that all people within the space occupied by ‘Canada’ are given equal and full status. To achieve this requires us to challenge the global system of national states that legalize and legitimate discrimination against all those deemed to be ‘foreigners’ within national societies. Type: Chapter in Book

“Global Apartheid and Nation-Statehood: Instituting Border Regimes” in Nationalism and Globalism. James Goodman and Paul James (eds.). New York: Routledge. pp.71-90. (2007) : Throughout the history of capitalist globalization, both the making and the maintenance of national borders have proven to be integral to the material and ideological practices of power. National borders have been organized through a set of institutionalized relationships based on the law, the market and extant social relations of ‘race’, class and gender within and across variously imagined spaces. National borders remain significant to such relations within the contemporary period of neo-liberal reforms. Type: Chapters in books

“Eating in Public,” in Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigation, Collective Theorization, Stevphen Shukaitis and David Graeber (eds). Edinburgh: AK Press. pp.180-88. (2007) : Eating in Public is an anti-capitalism project nudging a little space outside of the commodity system. Following the path of pirates and nomads, hunters and gathers, diggers and levelers, they gather at people's homes and plant free food gardens on private and public land. Unlike Santa and the State, they give equally to the naughty and the nice. They do not exploit anyone's labor. And they do not offer tax-deductions. They are, in all
the word's various definitions, free. Type: Chapter in Book Co-Authors: Gaye Chan

“White Nationalism, Illegality and Imperialism: Border Controls as Ideology” in (En)Gendering the War on Terror: War Stories and Camouflaged Politics. Krista Hunt and Kim Rygiel (eds.) Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishers. pp.121-44. (2006) : In this paper I wish to remind us that having juridical national status is ‘no small advantage’ (Kafka, 1969, p.11). In the post-9/11 world, such a reminder is crucial. In Canada, as elsewhere, the main targets of coercive state action have been those who fall into two broad groups: those constructed as non-members of national society regardless of whatever juridical status they may have and, secondly, migrants without citizenship status who have been negatively racialized and nationalized. Importantly, it is the latter who have faced the brunt of Canadian state power: people on visitors visas, student visas or without legal documents. Type: Chapters in books

Home Economics: Nationalism and the Making of ‘Migrant Workers’ in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. (2006) : A massive shift has taken place in Canadian immigration policy since the 1970s: the majority of migrants no longer enter as permanent residents but as temporary migrant workers. In Home Economics, Nandita Sharma shows how Canadian policies on citizenship and immigration contribute to the entrenchment of a system of apartheid where those categorized as ?migrant workers? live, work, pay taxes and sometimes die in Canada but are subordinated to a legal regime that renders them as perennial outsiders to nationalized Canadian society.

In calling for a "no borders" policy in Canada, Sharma argues that it is the acceptance of nationalist formulations of ?home? informed by racialized and gendered relations that contribute to the neo-liberal restructuring of the labour market in Canada. She exposes the ideological character of Canadian border control policies which, rather than preventing people from getting in, actually work to restrict their rights once within Canada. Home Economics is an urgent and much-needed reminder that in today?s world of growing displacement and unprecedented levels of international migration, society must pay careful attention to how nationalist ideologies construct ?homelands? that essentially leave the vast majority of the world?s migrant peoples homeless. Type: Books of original scholarship–author/co-author ISBN: 978-0-80204-8 Keywords: Immigration, Nationalism, Migrant Workers

“The Making of Citizen Self and Non-Citizen Other: Canada’s Non-Immigrant Employment Authorization Programme” Globalization and its Discontents. Stephen McBride and John Wiseman (eds.) Macmillan: London. pp.129-142. (2000) : Despite an often-repeated opinion that the nation-state is declining in power, the demand that the state 'protect our borders' has gained great appeal and legitimacy the world over. New borders are being erected and existing ones shored up. Even the supposed expansion of national borders, the European Union for instance, is locking into place older, well-established boundaries between North and South. This papers examines whether re-vamped nationalist calls are simply reactions to the much talked about transference of state power to capitalists or whether they are part of the strengthening of notions of 'nation-ness' which can be seen as integral to the restructuring of capitalism and nation-states. A case is made for the latter explanation. Type: Chapters in books Keywords: Globalization, Nationalism, Immigration, Racism

Editor of The National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) Voter’s Guide: A Women’s Agenda for Social Justice. Lorimer and Co.: Toronto. (1997) : The National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) was the largest feminist organization in Canada throughout the 1980s and 1990s with more than 600 member groups. The organization was dedicated to mobilizing its membership and the public on issues of concern to women. Originally prepared for the 1997 federal election, the NAC Voters' Guide was designed to create awareness of key issues to women--childcare, employment, violence against women, immigration and refugees, healthcare--and to assess the chief parties' response to them. The NAC Voters' Guide remains a useful analysis of where women think government should be going, and a resource for evaluating how governments act on women's concerns. Type: Edited volumes



SOC 218 (Fall 2018) : Intro to Social Problems - Download
  Section: 001

SOC SOC 620 (Fall 2018) : Seminar in Social Stratification - Download

SOC 725B (Spring 2018) : Seminar on Race and Ethnicity: Anti-Racism - Download

SOC 715 (Fall 2017) : Special Topics: Sociology of Migration - Download

SOC 612 (Spring 2017) : Seminar in Contemporary Sociological Theory - Download


SOC 612 (Spring 2016) : Contemporary Sociological Theory - Download

SOC 725 (Fall 2015) : Seminar in Race Relations - Download

SOC 612 (Spring 2015) : Contemporary Sociological Theory - Download

SOC 492 (Fall 2014) : Politics of Multiculturalism - Download
  Cross Listed: ES 492

SOC 612 (Spring 2014) : Contemporary Sociological Theory - Download

SOC 715 (Spring 2014) : Seminar in Current Issues in Sociology: Sociology of Postcolonialism - Download

SOC 492 (Fall 2013) : Politics of Multiculturalism - Download

SOC 725 (Fall 2013) : Seminar in Race Relations - Download