Kavita Daiya

Kavita WGSS GWU English
Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
Phillips 631
Phillips Hall
801 22 St. NW
Washington, District Of Columbia 20052
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

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.

Current Research

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 Colonial 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.




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



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


Graphic Migrations: Precarity and Gender in India and the Diaspora. Temple University Press (forthcoming 2020).


Gender, Media Cultures, and Activism in Asia and Asian America. Book manuscript in progress.




Editor, Graphic Narratives from South Asia and South Asian America: Aesthetics and Politics. Routledge, 2019.



Refereed articles (published and forthcoming):


“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 (forthcoming 2021). 


“Intimacy, Imperialism, and America: Revisiting Post-47 Postcolonial and Asian American Writing,” Asian American Literature in Transition: 1956-1996, eds. Asha Nadkarni and Cathy Schlund-Vials. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming 2020).


“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: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming, 2020).


“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: Oxford University Press, 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. London: 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. London, NY: 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. New Delhi and London: 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.


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).

Classes Taught

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.”