This book is the product of the insights, commitments, passion, and vision of
the activists whose work makes social justice possible. My heartfelt gratitude
goes to all those who participated in this project and sustained it with their
unwavering belief in its importance. My comrades and friends in South Asian
Women for Action have lived this project with me. I owe my politics and
my thinking on social change to these incredible women—Serena Sundaram,
Riti Sachdeva, Ramani Sripada-Vaz, Kalpana Subramanian, Hardeep Mann,
Sameeta Ahmed, Sunu Chandy, Latha Ravi, Lina Sheth, Karen Vasudavan,
Sunita Mani, Falu Bakrania, and Maya Rege. The circle of love with which they
surrounded me in Boston has traveled with me. While Laurie Prendergast was
not part of sawa, she hung out with us, and I am glad she did. I have benefited
immensely from her love, care, wisdom, and her superb indexing. The friend-
ship that Bhairavi Desai has extended to me has been an unexpected gift. I have
learned much from her about organizing. She and the New York Taxi Workers
Alliance Organizing Committee taught me one of my most important lessons—
the place of compassion in political work.
A number of activists based in the academy have also supported my work.
Becky Thompson committed herself to seeing this book in print. She gave me
my first tutorials in publishing, and my dissertation was reborn as a book in her
living room. Each chapter has benefited from her valuable feedback and con-
stant encouragement. Linda Carty’s rigorous attention to questions of political
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