- English professor at Cornell University
- Former member of the Cornell Forum for Peace and Justice
Born in Orissa, India, Satya Mohanty earned a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois and has been an English professor at Cornell University since 1983.
As a member of the now-defunct Cornell Forum for Peace and Justice, Mohanty was a strong critic of President George W. Bush and his administration’s post-9/11 war on terror. In an October 14, 2002 interview with Z Magazine founder Michael Albert, Mohanty agreed with Albert’s assessment that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a foolhardy pursuit rooted in aggression, arrogance, a lust for oil, and corporate greed. America’s “disastrous foreign policy,” said Mohanty, “is to a great extent about what powerful corporations want.”
In 2000 Mohanty co-founded the Future of Minority Studies Research Project (FMS), a think tank which claims that “progressive social change” is dependent upon “an adequate conception of minority identities.” “Minority” groups, says FMS, are “those whose access to social institutions is restricted because of their group identities, based on such factors as race, gender, sexuality, class, and disability.” From January 2005 until December 2010, Mohanty served as director of the FMS Summer Institute, which has received funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Mohanty has authored one book, Literary Theory and the Claims of History: Postmodernism, Objectivity, Multicultural Politics (1997), and has edited a few books for FMS. Moreover, he co-edited and contributed to the 2006 book Reconsidering Identity Politics: An Introduction. In that volume, Mohanty and one co-editor wrote that while “social movements associated with identity politics have been castigated” by many people across the political spectrum, “we, the editors of this volume, believe that these critiques of identity politics are largely mistaken, too often based on anecdotes about incidents where specific groups used poor political judgment rather than empirical studies of identity-based movements from which a larger analysis of their effects can emerge.”
Mohanty wrote a June 1, 2010 article for Inside Higher Ed entitled “Diversity's Next Challenges,” asserting that “negative social stereotypes” and “inequality of access [and] opportunity” cause great harm to nonwhite minorities in the United States. The piece also emphasizes “the importance of group identification for the psychological well-being of those who are from socially marginalized groups.”