Kavita Daiya

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Kavita Daiya

Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.


Email: Kavita Daiya
Office Phone: (202) 994-6637
801 22 St. NW Washington DC 20052

Dr. Daiya served as visiting NEH Chair in the Humanities at Albright College (2015-2016) and as Andrew W. Mellon Regional Faculty Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Humanities Forum (2014-2015, 2012-2013). She also served as Associate Editor for Book Reviews of the interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal South Asian Review (Taylor and Francis) from 2012-2018. She currently serves as an elected member of the Dean’s Council. She has been invited to contribute essays to edited volumes and encyclopedias like The Novel in South and South-East Asia, ed. Alex Tickell (Oxford UP); The Cambridge History of the Indian Novel in English, ed. Ulka Anjaria; Blackwell Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, eds. Henry Schwarz and Sangeeta Ray; MLA Guide to Teaching South Asian Women's Writing, eds. Deepika Bahri and Filippo Menozzi; and Representations of War, Migration and Refugeehood: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, eds. Daniel Rellstab and Christiane Schlote (Routledge).

Postcolonial Literatures and Cinema/ Asian American Studies/ Postcolonial Theory/ Gender and Sexuality Studies/ Migration and Globalization Studies/ Race, Religion, and Ethnicity/ Visual and Material Culture/ Peace and Conflict Studies/ Digital Humanities/ Cinema Studies.

My scholarship revolves around the cultural histories and socio-political legacies of modern migrations, and is located at the intersection of Postcolonial Studies, Asian American Studies, feminist critique, and critical race theory. I am interested in how migrations generate forms of postcolonial belonging and unbelonging in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, in Asia, Africa, and the United States. In its sustained commitment to how gender and sexuality shape the public sphere negotiation of citizenship, nationalism, intimacy, and human rights I work on, my scholarship also contributes to transnational Gender and Sexuality Studies. I am especially interested in how geopolitical conflict and displacement have shaped the cultural imagination of belonging and gendered identity in Asia and North America, and how literature and media cultures become sites for contestation and critique. My first book Violent Belongings: Partition, Gender and National Culture in Postcolonial India (Philadelphia: Temple UP, [2008] 2011; New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2013) illuminated how ethnic violence after decolonization and the 1947 Partition of India influences ideas about Indian nationalism from 1947-2008. My second book Graphic Migrations: Precarity and Gender in India and the Diaspora (forthcoming, Temple UP, 2020), links India and its north American diaspora; it offers a feminist analysis of how geopolitical displacement and refugee experience are narrated in South Asian and Asian American public culture across a range of media, from literature, film, photography, print culture, and art. My interest in transmedia and public cultures as sites for socio-political critique also led to my edited volume Graphic Narratives about South Asian and South Asian America: Aesthetics and Politics (Routledge, 2019), which is the first edited volume to document the interventionist, critical energy of South Asian graphic narratives on issues like gender based violence, ecological justice, authoritarianism, and colonialism, among others. Recent articles and reviews have appeared in edited volumes as well as journals like PMLA, Genders, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, American Book Review, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of South Asian History and Culture, among others. My interest in how digital media can be used to advance story-telling and memorialization of the mid-twentieth century’s global histories of war and displacement have led to my work as a member of the Founding Board of Directors of the 1947PartitionArchive.org. I am currently working on my third book, which focuses on gender, race, and media cultures in Asia and Asian America. I received my PhD from the University of Chicago.



Undergraduate: “Around the World in 80 Days: Travel and Cross-Cultural Encounter in Global Literature and Film;” “Travel, Gender, and Land in Postcolonial Literature and Film;” “Love and Longing in Postcolonial Literature and Cinema;” “Gender and Literature in an International Context;” “Introduction to Colonial and Postcolonial Literature and Theory.”


Graduate: “The Location of Postcolonial Theory;” “Contemporary Feminist Theory;” “Ten Great Books to Read Before You Graduate;” “From Imperialism to Globalization: British and Postcolonial Literature and Film;” “Nationalism, Religion, and Secularism in South Asia;” 

“Inequality, Minoritization, Gender, and Race in the 21st Century.”


Graphic Migrations: Precarity and Gender in India and the Diaspora. Temple University Press, 2020.

Graphic Migrations: Precarity and Gender in India and the Diaspora. New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2021 (South Asia edition).


Book Reprint:

Violent Belongings: Partition, Gender and National Culture in Postcolonial India. Temple University Press, 2008, 2011. New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2013.


Edited Volume:

Editor, Graphic Narratives from South Asia and South Asian America: Aesthetics and Politics. Routledge, [hardcover, 2019] paperback, 2021. Rpt. of special double issue of South Asian Review 38:1-2 (2018).


Refereed articles:

“The 1947 Partition, War, and Internment: Hidden Histories of Migration and Displacement in Transnational Asia” in Volume II: Asian American Literature in Transition (1930-1965), eds. Victor Bascara and Josephine Park. Cambridge UP, 2021.

“Reframing Partition: Gender, Migration, and Storytelling in Conflict Zones,” MLA Guide to Teaching South Asian Women's Writing, eds. Deepika Bahri and Filippo Menozzi, MLA, 2021.

“Gender, Sexuality and the Family in South-Asian Fiction,” Oxford History of the Novel in English (Volume 10). The Novel in South and South-East Asia, ed. Alex Tickell. Oxford UP, 2018. 44-57.

“The World After Empire, or Whither Postcoloniality?” PMLA, Volume 132, Number 1, January 2017, pp. 149–155 (7).

“Partition,” Blackwell Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, eds. Sangeeta Ray and Henry Schwarz. Wiley-Blackwell, 2016. 1278-1286.

“Ecologies of Intimacy: Gender, Sexuality, and Environment in Indian Fiction” in The Cambridge History of the Indian Novel in English, ed. Ulka Anjaria. Cambridge UP, 2015. 221-236.

“Refugees, Gender and Secularism in South Asian Literature and Cinema” in Representations of War, Migration and Refugeehood: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, eds. Daniel Rellstab and Christiane Schlote. Routledge, 2014. 263-280.

“Visual Culture and Violence: Inventing Intimacy and Citizenship in Recent South Asian Cinema” in South Asian Transnationalisms: Cultural Exchange in the Twentieth Century (Routledge South Asian History and Culture Series), ed. Babli Sinha. Routledge, 2012.

“Visual Culture and Violence: Inventing Intimacy and Citizenship in Recent South Asian Cinema,” South Asian History and Culture 2.4 (2011): 589-604.

“Home and the Nation: Women, Citizenship and Transnational Migration in Postcolonial Literature.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 44.4 (Dec 2008): 391-402.

“Postcolonial Masculinity: 1947, Partition Violence and Nationalism in the Indian Public Sphere,” Genders March 2006. www.genders.org

“Provincializing America: Engaging Postcolonial Critique and Asian American Studies in a Transnational Mode,” South Asian Review 26.2 (Dec 2005): 265-275.

“’No Home But in Memory:’ Migrant Bodies and Belongings, Globalization and Nationalism in Amitav Ghosh’s Novels,” in Amitav Ghosh: Critical Essays, ed. Brinda Bose. New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2003. 36-55.

“‘Honourable Resolutions:’ Gendered Violence, Ethnicity and the Nation,” Alternatives: Global Local Political 27.2 (April-June 2002). 72-86.


Other Articles, Essays, Book Reviews:

"Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and Transnational Dialogue: Reframing South Asian Textile Arts," in Critical Asian Studies, Feb 2021. https://doi.org/10.52698/IBXK1739.

“South Asia in Graphic Narratives,” in Graphic Narratives from South Asia and South Asian America: Aesthetics and Politics, ed. Kavita Daiya. Routledge, 2019.

“South Asia in Graphic Narratives,” special topic double issue of South Asian Review, on “South Asia in Graphic Narratives” Vol. 38: 1-2, 2018, pp. 3-10.

“Why Partition survivors in the US believe it’s vital to keep talking about the trauma of 1947,” Scroll.in, May 2016.

“Rohith Vemula: The rot of caste privilege and the price of a Dalit scholar’s life,” blog post, www.womeninand beyondtheglobal.org, Jan 25, 2016.

Book Review, Deepti Misri’s Beyond Partition: Gender, Violence and Representation in Postcolonial India, in The Journal of Asian Studies Volume 74, Issue 04, November 2015, pp 1059-1061.

“Zoos and Provincial Intimacies.” Piece on Indian Jewish community in American Book Review, special issue on “Little India,” ed. Saikat Majumdar, Volume 36, Number 6, September/October 2015, p. 9.

“Domestic Violence in Urban India: A Middle-Class Story,” blog post, www.womeninand beyondtheglobal.org

“Gender, Cultural Politics and History in I am Malala,” article commissioned by GWU Global Women’s Institute’s I Am Malala Digital Curriculum, 2014.

Book Review, Realism in the Twentieth Century Indian Novel by Ulka Anjaria, South Asian Review 36:1 (2014).

Book Review, Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India by Neeti Nair, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 55 (2012): 183-213.

Book Review, Constructing the Criminal Tribe: Acting like a thief by Henry Schwarz, Journal of South Asian History and Culture 2.03 (2011): 447-450.

Co-author, “Introduction: Imagining South Asia,” Special Issue of South Asian Review, Winter 2008.

“Cultural Politics,” Verve, September 2009.

“26/11: A Historical Perspective,” Verve, special issue on 26/11, January 2009.

Book Review, Lyrical Movements, Historical Hauntings: On Gender, Colonialism, and Desire in Miraji's Urdu Poetry by Geeta Patel, Catamaran: Journal of South Asian American Writing, Spring 2007.

Book Review, Gyan Prakash’s Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999) and Raka Ray’s Fields of Protest: Women's Movements in India (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1999) in University of Chicago South Asian Studies Newsletter, December 2000.


Refereed articles forthcoming:

“Intimacy, Imperialism, and America: Revisiting Post-47 Postcolonial and Asian American Writing,” in Asian American Literature in Transition: 1956-1996, eds. Asha Nadkarni and Cathy J. Schlund-Vials. Cambridge UP (forthcoming, 2021).

Co-author with Sreyoshi Sarkar, “Envisioning the Role of South Asian Gender and Sexuality Studies in the Transcultural Humanities,” in Transcultural Humanities in South Asia: A Critical Anthology, eds. Waseem Anwar and Nosheen Yousaf. Routledge (forthcoming, 2021).

Co-author with Turni Chakrabarti and Sukshma Vedere, “Gender, Embodiment, and the Aspirational Middle-Class Imaginary of Indian Advertising,” in Female Body Image and Self-identity in Contemporary Indian Literature and Popular Culture, eds. Srirupa Chatterjee and Shweta Rao Garg. Temple University Press (forthcoming).



Guest Editor, special topic double issue of South Asian Review, on “South Asia in Graphic Narratives,” Vol. 38: 1-2, 2018. Guest Co-editor, special topic issue of South Asian Review, on “Imagining South Asia,” with Amardeep Singh. Winter 2008.


Media Appearances and Public Scholarship:

Panel Describes Pandemic’s Impact in India,” by B. L. Wilson, GW Today, May 10, 2021.

WGSS master’s program applications triple for this fall,” by Ishani Chettri, The Hatchet, Mar 31, 2021.

#OnlyAtGW: Former U.S. Attorney General Makes Virtual Classroom Visit,” GW Today, 19 October 2020.

5 Ways to Financially Survive the Pandemic,” Inside Higher Ed, 5 October 2020.

Observations on the anniversary of the Partition of India,” 19 August 2020, https://templepress.wordpress.com/

New International Students Should Not Be Barred Entry this Fall,” academeblog.org, the blog of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Magazine Academe, 12 August 2020.

GW All Access: Kavita Daiya of CCAS,” 11 August 2020.

“The current plight of international students,” Inside Higher Ed, 16 June 2020. https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2020/06/16/colleges-need-help-international-students-now-opinion

Interviewed by Arielle Mitropoulos from ABC News, “Loss of international students could damage US economy, experts say,” July 14, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/Business/loss-international-students-damage-us-economy-experts/story?id=71754388

Podcast, “Episode 6: Conversations with Kavita Daiya and Chris Cantwell,” Inside C21 Podcast, February, 2020. https://uwm.edu/c21/media/inside-c21-podcast/

Interview, “Why Your New Year’s Resolution Should Be Self-Acceptance,” by Kristen Mitchell, 16 December 2019, GW Today. https://gwtoday.gwu.edu/why-your-new-year%E2%80%99s-resolution-should-be-self-acceptance

Quoted in “Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program to launch ‘brown bag’ seminar series,” by Cristina Cestone, GW Hatchet, September 24, 2019.

Ph.D. Department of English Language and Literature, University of Chicago

M.A., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

B.A., magna cum laude, University of Rochester

Visiting Scholar, Worcester College, Oxford University