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Dr. Elena Gambino

Elena Gambino is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University. She works at the intersections of feminist, queer, and critical race theories, focusing in particular on how everyday political actors have developed and deployed these traditions to build coalitions, how they seek to contest and repair the inequalities that underpin modern political communities, and how they imagine radical futures premised on racial and sexual accountability.

Elena’s book project reconstructs a range of radical political claims made by lesbian feminist writers and activists ranging from the late 1970s through the early 1990s, and turns to feminist political archives often overlooked by political theorists, such as the popular lesbian feminist magazine Sinister Wisdom and many other artifacts of feminist print culture. The project shows that the practice of intersectional accountability developed by lesbian feminists such as Cherríe Moraga, Audre Lorde, Barbara and Beverly Smith, Adrienne Rich, and Maria Lugones, and many others, offers valuable insights for theorists grappling with how to imagine more radical and accountable coalitions in the present. 

Elena is also working on several new projects, including work on anti-colonial and feminist critiques of the concept of "the household," on the contemporary intersections of queer and Native feminisms, and on digital archives on the topic of "colonized sexuality." 

At Rutgers, Elena teaches courses in the Women and Politics subfield, where she brings together ideas at the intersection of political theory, feminist theory, and histories of sexuality. She offers a range of courses, including The Nature of Politics, Gender and Political Theory, Contemporary Feminist Theory, and Queer Power and Politics. At the graduate level, she teaches courses in feminist political theory and feminist methods.


Elena’s work has been published in Political Theory and Contemporary Political Theory, and she is the recipient of the 2020 Leo Strauss award, presented by the American Political Science Association for the Best Dissertation in Political Philosophy. Her paper “Politics as Sinister Wisdom: Reparation and Responsibility in Lesbian Feminism” was also selected for the Best Paper award by APSA’s Women, Gender, and Politics section in 2020.

Areas of Interest

Feminist Political Thought, Intersectionality, LGBTQ and Queer Politics, Historical and Archival Methods

Graduate Courses

790:660 Contemporary Debates in Feminist Theory

Undergraduate Courses

790:101 Nature of Politics
790:365 Gender and Political Theory
790:379 Topics in Political Theory: Queer Power and Politics
790:423 Contemporary Feminist Theory
790:473 Critics of Modernity

Recent Publications

Gambino, Elena. Forthcoming. "‘Red Roots’ of Solidarity: Paula Gunn Allen and the Queer Audiences of Intellectual Sovereignty." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society

Gambino, Elena. 2021. "Politics as Sinister Wisdom: Reparation and Responsibility in Lesbian Feminism." Contemporary Political Theory. Online first. 

Gambino, Elena. 2019. ‘“A More Thorough Resistance”? Coalition, Critique, and the Intersectional Promise of Queer Theory,’ Political Theory 48(2), p. 218-244.


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