The Executive Committee of the Ann Snitow Prize is excited to name its first honoree, Premilla Nadasen. The annual award of $10,000 recognizes a feminist of outstanding vision, originality, generosity, and effectiveness, whose work combines intellectual and/or artistic pursuits with feminist and social justice activism.
The Awards Ceremony will take place, via Zoom, on January 14 at 6 PM. It will feature a conversation about care work, race, and grassroots organizing between Professor Nadasen and the historian, writer, and longtime activist Barbara Ransby.
Ann Snitow was a feminist writer and teacher best remembered for her critical engagement with second-wave feminist causes, her long-term grassroots organizing and activism, and for serving on the faculty of The New School for Social Research, where she established gender studies, for over thirty years. In her own words, the hallmark of Snitow’s feminism was an embrace of uncertainty: “An odd banner to fly under,” she acknowledged, but one that recognized that “feminism keeps changing — and should.”
It is a momentous year to inaugurate the Ann Snitow Prize: a year of continued police killings of Black people and massive Black Lives Matter protests; a presidential election marked by violence, disinformation, and disenfranchisement; the consolidation of a Supreme Court majority poised to roll back more than a century’s worth of civil rights gains; and a pandemic that manifests America’s deep historic racialized health and economic inequities. Everything that feminists care about — state violence, racism, reproductive justice, and workers’ rights, to name a few — is on the line.
The Committee received fifty nominations, an excitingly diverse and accomplished group; it was hard to decide. But we wanted to recognize both this extraordinary year and also a person whose work engages the many interrelated questions it has brought to light.
Premilla Nadasen is that person. A woman of African and Indian ancestry, Nadasen grew up in South Africa and moved to the U.S. as a child. She became an activist in high school and joined the student anti-apartheid movement at college in the 1980s. As activist, historian, and pedagogue — she now teaches at Barnard College — Nadasen lifts up often invisible working women and women’s social justice movements, including the Black-led 1960s welfare rights movement, grassroots multi-issue organizing by low-income Southern women, and the vibrant labor organizing among domestic workers, a force made up largely of women of color and immigrants. It feels apt that the Prize this year recognizes a feminist whose focus is on care workers both paid and unpaid, whom the pandemic finally reveals as “essential” to everyone’s wellbeing and survival.
Bringing together the politics of care, global migration, labor, race, and poverty under a feminist rubric, Premilla discovers new points of intersection, broadening and deepening both the definitions and possibilities of feminism.
“I am deeply humbled to be the inaugural recipient of this prize in honor of pioneering feminist Ann Snitow,” said the awardee. “It is a recognition of the work of many poor and working-class women of color who fought for economic justice, racial equity, and feminism, and who mobilized to make their political voices heard. Through their activism, they cultivated a feminist politics that is even more urgent and relevant today.”
We extend our congratulations to Premilla Nadasen and our gratitude to the Nomination Committee and our generous donors. And, in these terrible times, we reflect on Ann’s genius for organizing, thinking, and friendship, and wish she were here.