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Madhu Krishnan (University of Bristol)

31 January 2020

Election address

My name is Madhu Krishnan. I am Professor of African, World and Comparative Literatures in the Department of English at the University of Bristol, where I have been employed since 2013. I was previously a Teaching Fellow at Newcastle University, after having completed my PhD from the University of Nottingham. I am running as a candidate for the role of Representative of women members (HE).

I first joined the union as a student member when I moved to the United Kingdom to pursue my doctoral studies in 2009. Since joining the University of Bristol I have become increasingly involved in my local branch, first as departmental representative and now as representative for the Faculty of Arts, responsible for termly Joint Trade Union meetings with the Dean and other senior managers. My history of feminist activism, particularly as a facilitator and educator, has left me well placed for this work.

This kind of activist work is especially urgent to me as a feminist, woman of colour and advocate for my women colleagues, especially early career and precarious workers, of whom I supervise many. I have had the misfortune in my time in HE to witness the impact of sexual harassment and gender-based bullying firsthand, as I've tried - often in vain - to assist more precarious colleagues. Through this, I've seen how fiercely institutions exist to protect themselves, at the expense of less represented, often-marginalised workers. I've seen myself how many brilliant minds we have lost, whether it is through the combined impact of BAME and gender pay gaps in the workplace; the amplified impact of precarity and casualisation on women members; or the slow death by a thousand cuts that is the demand on our emotional labour, and subsequent loss of ability to dream another way of working.

I am fiercely intersectional and trans-positive in my approach to women's issues. As a senior colleague, I believe it is not just my duty but my privilege to use my platform and relative safety to fight for the rights of my more vulnerable, more precarious colleagues. I am particularly motivated by the outsized impact of marketisation on our professional services colleagues, the majority of whom (at least in my institution) are women and who suffer greatly from the erosion of their working conditions. If elected, I promise I will lobby fiercely to protect the rights of all women workers, with a particular emphasis on the impact of casualisation on women; the gender pay gap; the intersection of BAME rights with women's rights; and the right to workplace dignity for our trans* sisters and non-binary colleagues.


Last updated: 29 January 2020