Dr Nilmini Fernando is a Sri Lankan born migrant settler of colour currently living and working in Narrm on the stolen lands of the Kulin Nation. She is a Postcolonial/Black Feminist scholar and educator who focuses on critical intersectional and race praxis in settler colonial sites to advance authentic transformation and push new paradigms from the ground up. With a background in radio, spoken work and theatre of the oppressed, Nilmini was an originator of Loving Feminist Literature- a collective of artists/academics/activists who bring the intellectual, philosophical, political, literary and spiritual contributions of Black, Indigenous and global feminists of colour to public spaces.
As an early career interdisciplinary sociologist and woman scholar of colour with strengths and expertise in critical race theory, intersectionality, gender and migration, Critical Intersectional Praxis is to date my principal research contribution. Based on a meticulous and expansive translation of critical race and intersectional theories, I have designed a tool for bridging theory and practice. The tool, known as the Diamond Matrix Model of Intersectional Practice, which I am now piloting in the Women’s and Multicultural sectors in Australia, is a continuing focus of my research program. Pursuing its further development in academia is timely, as in February 2020 it will be presented to and reviewed by eminent scholar and distinguished Professor of Sociology, Patricia Hill Collins, on whose ground-breaking theoretical work it is based.
This important research/praxis intervention emerges from the confluence of my disciplinary and theoretical knowledge and my professional experience and expertise in the Women’s NGO sector in Australia.
The formidable global influence of intersectional theories over the past twenty years, particularly among organisations, social movements and governments, has regrettably been unmatched by a set of appropriate processes and tools for operationalizing and incorporating intersectional analyses into programs, policies and institutional orientations. My research contributions are therefore significant and innovative, and I am thus becoming increasingly recognised in the domains of race and feminist theory and gender policy for being one of few researchers who is able to bridge the academic/ professional domains. Indeed, I have an emerging national reputation for bringing intersectional theory and practice together in the fields of women, asylum, family violence and mental health.
A distinctive element of my research-practice nexus are my research methodologies. My research innovations are based on participatory and co-design methods that move beyond ‘giving voice’ to decolonizing research paradigms and unsettle dominant powers through centralizing—rather than ‘adding in’—narratives of lived experience
To mark International Women's Day for Wire, Dr Nilmini Fernando moderated a panel of feminist leaders to explore what intersectional leadership looks like in practice.
The panelists were Nayuka Gorrie, Diana Sayed, Navanita Bhattacharya and Alex Bhathal.
Through process, design and action, we acknowledge, respect and thank the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation on whose lands this project is based.
Twosixty is a carbon neutral project.