UMass Boston

Professor Chris Bobel Receives Fulbright Scholar Award

06/27/2024| Crystal Valencia

Bobel to teach Gender Studies at Kadir Has University in Istanbul

Chris Bobel
Professor Chris Bobel
Image By: Javier Rivas

Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Chris Bobel has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to teach in Istanbul, Turkey this fall.

Through the prestigious Fulbright award, Bobel will teach PhD students in Gender Studies at Kadir Has University for a full academic year, an experience she says will challenge her in exciting ways as a public intellectual and feminist educator and mentor.

“I love travel as the best means of accessing and learning from cultures different than my own. And the chance to do my job in another place really excites me,” Bobel said. “Turkey is unique in its interesting tensions between East and West, the secular and the religious, and the traditional and modern. The complexities of Turkey today are a fruitful site for thinking critically about the gendered dimensions of a range of pressing social issues.”

A UMass Boston faculty member since 2001, Bobel teaches courses on Gender & the Body, Feminist Theory, Feminist Research Methods, Women in US Social Movements and Feminist Activism. She also coordinates the WGS Internship Program for WGS majors and minors.  Her scholarship lies at the intersection of social movements, gender, health and embodiment, or how feminist thinking becomes feminist doing at the most intimate and immediate levels. She is currently working on a book about grief-induced activism.

“It is an exciting time for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies,” she said. “As a field, it has dramatically transformed in a matter of mere decades from a reparative integration of women’s lived experiences into existing disciplines to a global multi- faceted interdisciplinary and intersectional field of study made stronger by the very transnational debates and contestations at its core. Engaging Gender Studies in Turkey will have multiple ripple effects. I will meaningfully interact with the future arbiters of the field who hold its future in their hands, and I plan to continue to nurture the relationships I develop at Kadir Has University when I return home.”

In addition to teaching, she plans to mentor PhD students working on their dissertations and support junior faculty who need guidance with their research, writing, and publishing. Bobel said the opportunity to work with graduate students was a big draw for her. UMass Boston’s Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is an undergraduate program, so Bobel has limited opportunities to work closely with graduate students.

“When I do get the chance, I really enjoy that work. So teaching PhD students in Gender Studies in Turkey for a full academic year—a place where the field is burgeoning in a really complicated political climate—will be a career culminating experience, and a chance to strengthen our field’s authority and impact,” she said.

Bobel says she has been using the Duolingo app to learn some Turkish language as she prepares for the trip, although she is struggling a bit.

“My partner and I have been watching Turkish films set in Istanbul and documentaries about Turkish history,” Bobel said. “I just checked out three highly recommend books about Istanbul. I have so much to learn! It is a bit daunting, but also thrilling and I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity.”

She finds the idea of living in Istanbul especially compelling.

“I have never lived in a megacity, so that alone really intrigues me (as does the delicious food and temperate climate, not to mention the famously friendly feral cats that roam the city ). What’s more, the city connects two continents—Europe and Asia. My life will be intercontinental, literally,” she said. “I will live in Asia and commute about one hour to my university in Europe. Being in such an old city with an incredibly rich history will be endlessly fascinating.”

Bobel is among more than 800 U.S. citizens who will teach or conduct research abroad for the 2024-2025 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Bobel says her time in Turkey will help her develop new strategies, and strengthen existing ones, that she hopes will benefit her students and colleagues when she returns to Boston.

“Every time I teach and every time I mentor a student or a colleague, I improve my practice, and this benefits those I serve as well as my own work as a scholar and writer,” she said. “I will make mistakes, and I hope I learn from them.”