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Urvi Desai

Urvi Desai

The Jean-Marie Fecteau Prize


Urvi Desai, “Complicating the Feminist: Intellectual Legacies of Birth Control in India” (Economics and Politics Weekly, LV:12 (March 21. 2020), 39-45).

Urvi Desai’s article is a gripping intellectual history of the politics of feminism, reproductive justice, and colonialism in India during the twentieth century. The article pulls together ideological concerns over birth control presented in the speeches and writings of public figures B. R. Ambedkar, M. K. Gandhi, and Margaret Sanger. Desai highlights the enduring historical tensions of the feminist movement in an under-examined geographical context, while complicating binaries such as East and West, liberal and illiberal. Her theoretical approach is well situated in contextual understandings and is stylistically approachable, as well as notably attentive to themes such as language, class, and caste. Desai’s work seamlessly integrates multiple perspectives into a strong historical analysis and repeatedly demonstrates the significance and relevance of the work to understanding intersectional feminism.


Valeria Téllez Niemeyer, « Nuit électrique : atmosphères lumineuses à Montréal au XIXe siècle », RACAR, vol. 45, nº1, 2020, p. 36-48.

Valeria Téllez Niemeyer’s text focuses on the moment when the Montreal public was introduced to light and electricity in the nineteenth century, an event little explored in the literature until now. The impact of lighting marks a crucial moment in the formation of public life at the time. Téllez Niemeyer develops the substance of her argument in a precise and focused manner through the methodological use of images to further describe the importance of the role of electricity in the formation of Montreal’s identity and social life. Her work makes an original and important contribution to the analysis of luminosity and public space in various fields of study including history and communications.

Rachel Lobo, “The Archive as Prefigurative Space: Our Lives and Black Feminism in Canada,” Archivaria: Journal for the Association of Canadian Archivists 87 (May, 2020), 68-86.

By reporting on the collection of issues of Our Lives: Canada’s First Black Women’s Newspaper in the on-line Rise Up! Feminist Archive, Rachel Lobo moves between the history of (Academic) Black feminism in English Canada in the 1980s, the Rise Up! archive as an activist archive, and the emancipatory possibilities of activist and on-line archives more generally. Lobo’s reading of the newspaper issues reveals much about a relatively recent moment in history and the relationship between Our Lives and the subsequent history of Black feminism in Canadian universities and the arts particularly. The issues Lobo describes are all available on-line from Rise Up!, which leads to an excellent discussion about that archive’s collections. In the last part of the article, Lobo draws together the Our Lives collection, the Rise Up! archives, and archival studies to reflect on the importance of easily accessible activist archives to not only preserve social movements’ pasts but to speak to their present and future.