Postcolonial Studies at NYU

Our Project

The Postcolonial Studies Project at New York University is based in the Department of English with strong links to many other departments at NYU, including the Departments of Anthropology, Cinema Studies, Comparative Literature, History, Media, Culture and Communications, Social and Cultural Analysis. The project aims to foster vital investigation into areas that include the legacies of imperialism; anti-colonial and postcolonial thought; literature, film and cultural production emerging from the postcolonial condition; problematics surrounding issues of gender, translation, diaspora, migration and indigeneity; multilingualism and vernacular literary traditions; interrogations of transnationalism, globalization, secularism and nationalism, as well as critiques of the field itself. Located in one of the world’s most diverse and dynamic cities, the Postcolonial Studies Project aims to become the New York City area hub for the field, connecting a variety of researchers, students and visiting scholars, and acting as a forum where they can share their work.

Inaugurated with the appointment of Robert J.C. Young as NYU Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature in 2005, the project draws on its core faculty in the English Department—Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Toral Gajarawala and Jini Kim Watson—other faculty with interests in various aspects of the field—Patrick Deer, Elaine Freedgood, Crystal Parikh, S.S. Sandhu, Jeff Spear, John Waters—as well as the many renowned academics with related interests from across the university. Numbering over sixty faculty in all, New York University offers what is probably the largest confluence of scholars working in the postcolonial field at any university in the world. In the past few years, the project has grown to become a vibrant site for intellectual exchange and innovative work in postcolonial studies, broadly conceived. Activities and events organized by those involved in the project include:

* a monthly colloquium with invited speakers, co-ordinated by the graduate students in the department
* a monthly seminar held in conjunction with CNRS (Paris)/NYU, the first Franco-American Research Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences (, on the topic of ‘Postcolonialism and Enlightenment: An Experiment in Reconstituting Knowledge’
* a major international conference in 2008 on ‘Postcolonialism and the Hit of the Real’
* a lecture series on translation studies
* student panels and workshops
* a teach-in on the international dimensions of the economic crisis
* a thriving graduate reading group
* a pilot project of an archive of the global South, The Tricontinental Archive
* funding for an NYU graduate student in English to attend the inaugural 2009 session of the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism, held at the Witwatersrand Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa
* participation in a collaborate research project with five universities around the world, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, on ‘Commodities and Culture, 1851-1914’. The program will include major three-day international workshops that will be hosted in London(2010), Kolkata (2010/11) and New York (2011)
* editing of the journal Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, whose office is in the English Department. Opportunities exist for graduate students to work as editorial assistants in the production of the journal.

Speakers at our conference and colloquia have included: Arjun Appadurai, Homi Bhabha, Pheng Cheah, Nicholas Dirks, Simon Gikandi, David Lloyd, Achille Mbembe, Alok Rai, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and many others. Drawing on the expertise of over sixty faculty in other departments at NYU whose interests affiliate with those of postcolonial studies, other related NYU institutions and centers, as well as primary research materials available in the Bobst Library, particularly in Caribbean Studies, and elsewhere in New York, the project offers unique opportunities for collaborative work and cross-disciplinary dialogue as we attempt to further our understanding of the flows and forces of people, cultures, goods and institutions that make up our complex world - a world that is excitingly visible in the New York City where we work