Dr Sourit Bhattacharya

Lecturer in Global Anglophone Literatures

Background

I am a Lecturer in Global Anglophone Literatures at the University of Edinburgh. I received my PhD at the University of Warwick in 2017 and have previously taught at the universities of Calcutta, Warwick, Glasgow, and IIT Roorkee, India. My research and supervision interests include colonial and postcolonial studies, South Asian literatures and cultures, environmental and disaster studies, famine and food studies, and materialist theories.

Qualifications

PhD in English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick

MPhil in Social Sciences, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, Jadavpur University

MA in English, Jadavpur University

BA (Hons) in English Literature, Presidency College, University of Calcutta

Responsibilities & affiliations

Student Engagement Officer, 2022-

Postgraduate teaching

Spring Sem 2022: MSc

Theories and Methods of Literary Study II

Literature and Modernity II

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Areas of interest for supervision

I am interested in guiding PhD projects that fall broadly within my research areas which include colonial and postcolonial including South Asian and minority ethnic Scottish literatures and cultures; environmental humanities, disaster studies, and postcolonial ecocriticism; world literature from the margins; race and antiracism; diaspora, migration, and postcolonial nationhood; caste and subaltern theories; global modernisms; and Marxist critical theory.

Current PhD students supervised

Marianna Golunucci (Glasgow): Anti-racism and Scottish women writers and activists

Past PhD students supervised

For three terms:

Shruti Shukla (Glasgow): African American and Dalit female writers

Laura Scott (Glasgow): Scottish minority ethnic writers

Research summary

My research lies at the intersections of empire, postcolonial, food, and environmental discourses. I am interested in understanding how literary and artistic representations of disasters (especially famines and slow violence such as food poverty) in the colonial, postcolonial, and postimperial worlds reveal complex social dynamics and structural inequalities. My first book, 'Postcolonial Modernity and the Indian Novel: On Catastrophic Realism' (Palgrave, 2020), shortlisted for the University English First Book Prize 2022, explored these questions through a close reading of the novels of three catastrophic events from late-colonial and postcolonial India: 1943 Bengal Bengal Famine, the Naxalbari Movement, and the Indian Emergency.

I have followed these questions in a couple of research projects of late. A Carnegie Research Incentive Grant has helped me to explore the literary and cultural works of 1943 Bengal famine which would result in an online annotated bibliography of the works. I also hold a Royal Society of Edinburgh Network Award on the British empire, Scotland, and Indian famines bringing scholars and public bodies in the UK and India together to interrogate colonialism's role in 'making' and preventing famines in India, and how these famines fuelled anti-colonial nationalist writings and campaigns. This will allow to hold four events through this Network until 2024, details here: https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/rseaward_indianfamines/

These interests have also led me to co-found a Food Sovereignty Research Network at the University of Glasgow, which I am now affiliated to, and which works on how local food growing and distributions initiatives aim to tackle food poverty challenges of the twenty first century metropolis. I am additionally interested in food banks and their cultural reception among ethnic minority communities. Webpage here: https://www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/artslab/labsandthemes/collegewidethemes/foodsovereignty/

My other interest lies in reading postcolonial and world literatures from the periphery. How do we read 'vernacular' or untranslated literatures and 'local' literary networks in late colonial/mid-20thC India which actively participated in contemporary world-literary dialogues but are not widely known (i.e., translated in major European languages and/or published by major Euro-American presses)? Is there a world-form (uneven and coeval) in peripheral literatures? I have addressed some of the these questions in a co-edited volume on the radical Indian-Bengali writer, Nabarun Bhattacharya: Aesthetics and Politics in a World after Ethics (Bloomsbury, 2020). I'm currently collaborating with Dr Arka Chattopadhyay, IIT Gandhinagar, on a 'vernacular' world modernism project that has arisen out of an ACLA seminar and a subsequent journal special issue and Dr Chattopadhyay's Charles Wallace fellowships at IASH, Edinburgh.

Forthcoming publications:

  • “Disaster and Decolonisation: Famine, Gender, and Partition Writing from Bangladesh.” South Asian Review 
  • “Commodities of Empire: Indigo, Extraction, and Anticolonial Art in Dinabandhu Mitra’s Nil Darpan” in Sudesh Mishra &Caitlin Vandertop and eds., Commodities and Literature (Cambridge UP)
  • “Plants in Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Indian Writings”, in Bonnie Lander Johnson, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Plants (Cambridge UP)
  • “Postcolonial Disasters and Literary Aesthetics: An Eco-materialist Reading” in Kerstin Oloff, Treasa DeLoughrey, Claire Westall, and Sharae Deckard eds., The Routledge Companion to Literature and the  Environment (Routledge)
  • “Food Crisis and Postcolonial Indian Literature: Kamala Markandaya’s Novels” in Literature and Cinema in Postcolonial India (Routledge)
  • “The Postcolonial Afterlife in South Africa: AIDS, Xenophobia, and the Community of Healing in Phaswane Mpe’s Welcome to Our Hillbrow”, in Sreejith Varma and Ajanta Sircar eds., Contagion Narratives (Routledge)

Research activities

View activity on Research Explorer

Current project grants

Carnegie Research Incentive Grant (RIG009840): Representing the 1943 Bengal Famine: Colonialism, Food Crisis, Culture (July 2021 till Sep 2022)

Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Network Award (69777): The British Empire, Scotland, and Indian Famines: Writings on Food Crisis in Colonial India (March 2022 till March 2024)

View all 37 publications on Research Explorer