Celebrating Women in March: Vipasha Bansal Spotlights Columbia University Professor
I emailed Professor Bansal a series of questions and this was her response. The questions given to her were not easy to answer. I am extremely grateful to her for taking the time out of her already busy schedule to give each question the deep thought that it deserved. For doing so, the UPRIZINE Team extends our sincerest thank you. The perspectives that you shared with us come highly appreciated and valued.
Who was a woman in your life who inspired you to become who you are today?
Professor Patricia Williams at Columbia University.
In what ways did she help you become the person you are today?
Professor Williams taught a class called "The Anatomy of Autonomy: who is a person before the law?". This may sound vague but actually goes to the heart of who we are as individuals in any society. By intellectually considering who is included in the definition of a "person", I came to understand the shortcomings of my profession, i.e. the law.
Like so many lawyers, a part of me dreams of being a novelist. Patricia Williams is probably one of the most talented writers I have read. She manages to bring the world of literature and imagination to the law. This was new to me, it allowed me to stretch the limits of my own writing.
The list of things I learnt from Professor Williams is rather long. But on the most personal level, she taught me something profound about the world and my own place in it. Somehow, just by sitting in her classes, I got to know myself better.
What aspects of her do you see manifested in yourself?
I wish there were aspects of her manifested in me. I would like to be able to think critically about the most devastating aspects of humanity and still maintain a sense of humor. Also, I must admit that I would love to have her combination of authority, presence, and style.
How do you carry on her life or legacy?
I suppose she inspired me to become a teacher, a writer, and a lawyer who can simultaneously love and hate the law.
Vipasha Bansal lectures on international development law and policy. She is an international development consultant, working with both government and non-governmental agencies on law and policy issues. Before moving to Japan, she worked at the World Bank in Washington D.C., covering legal aspects of the Bank's portfolio in Latin America, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. She qualified as a solicitor in 2011 after training with Linklaters LLP in London, where she focused mainly on project finance and corporate transactions in the energy sector.