Elena Gambino

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Elena Gambino is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, where she works at the intersection of contemporary political theory, feminist studies, and historiography. Her current dissertation project examines the dominant historiographical frameworks typically used to understand and evaluate changes in the modes of analysis central to academic feminism since the 1970s. While these historiographical frameworks (for example, the ‘wave’ framework and the narrative of ‘methodological innovation’) are nearly always understood on the terms of the changing stakes of knowledge production, she argues that they are better understood as institutional and political strategies of legitimation with deep – and often paralyzing – implications for the ways that feminists address directly political issues of power and inequality. By turning to a growing network of archives documenting the political, institutional, and professional activities of feminist theorists, her research instead interrogates the political and institutional contexts in which these major theoretical shifts took place and offers a reading of these key methodological changes as contingent institutional strategies. Drawing on a generation of black and lesbian feminists, then, the dissertation project attempts to reconstruct a more directly political vocabulary with which to rebuild the links between academic feminism and such issues of power and inequality. Elena holds a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.A. from Lehigh University, has presented work at conferences and colloquia in Political Science and Feminist Studies, and has served as the organizer of the Minnesota Political Theory Colloquium. Her theoretical and archival work has been funded by the University of Minnesota Graduate School, the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, and the Albert and Virginia Wimmer Foundation. Her general research interests include: the intersections of postmodern, queer, and feminist theories, institutional histories of the academy and the discipline of women’s studies since the 1970s, political histories of the women’s movement, late modern political theory, and emancipatory theory.

Educational Background & Specialties


  • Feminist Theory, Late Modern Political Theory, Genealogy, History and Historiography
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Diversity Committee Graduate Student Representative: September 2016 - August 2017
  • Graduate Student Life Committee Co-Chair: October 2015 - November 2016
  • Minnesota Political Theory Colloquium Co-chair: September 2014 - December 2015