Nandini Dhar

Associate Professor

B.A. (Sociology) (Presidency College, Kolkata); M.A. (Comparative Literature) (Jadavpur University); M.A. (Comparative Literature) (University of Oregon); Ph.D. (University of Texas)

As a comparatist specializing in late 20th and 21st century literary cultures, Nandini is interested in thinking of the emerging category of “global Anglophone” as it interacts with the non-Anglophone – more specifically, the Francophone novel, various cultural productions in South Asian languages (especially in Bangla and Hindi), and the archives of world literature in translation. She has an abiding interest in categories such as “capital” and “neoliberal”, and much of her work engages with the social categories which shape and transform how we write and what we write. 

This finds expression in the two book projects Nandini is currently working on. The first, titled Only My Revolts Are Mine: Contemporary Historical Novels and Slavery’s Transnational Memories, examines the significance of histories of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and subsequent plantation slavery for 21st century novels within continental and diasporic Africa. Analyzing novels from nations such as Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Canada, Jamaica, Haiti, Great Britain and United States, she argues, these texts draw on a powerful and productive tension. On the one hand, by engaging in deep archival work as the foundation of their creative-artistic labor, these texts provide a corrective on the under-representation of slavery’s histories in traditional historical archives. In doing so, they create a range of consumable representations of enslaved subjectivity, which generally uphold the values of liberal individualism. On the other hand, the explosion of these novels during our contemporary moment points to a popular desire to transform slavery’s complicated histories of wageless labor into strategic allegories that can be used to narrate the forms of economic and political precarity that characterize our present moment of globalized capital and its attendant forms of expropriation.

The second, tentatively titled Edible Memories, Edible Domesticities: Ideologies of Gender and Alimentary Domesticity in Contemporary South Asian Women’s Food Memoirs is a study of food memoirs written by first generation immigrant Indian women who use their memories of a childhood in India to construct a distinct form of cultural and culinary capital in the West. Locating these texts in the context of the contemporary global emergence of food-centric cultural productions, Nandini argues the emergence of the food-memoir as a genre must be studied in the context of the global explosion of food media in contemporary times, and therefore, cannot be separated from a distinctly neoliberal aesthetics, which often places consumption at its very center. 

Nandini has published on writers such as Edwidge Danticat, Dionne Brand and Amitav Ghosh, focusing on such issues as memory, trauma, and the emergence of a 21st century critical retrospective realism in postcolonial novels.  She is also a practicing poet and the author of a full-length collection titled Historians of Redundant Moments: A Novel in Verse (Agape Editions). She is also the author of the chapbook Occupying My Tongue, as part of the project FIVE — a collaborative chapbook project by five Indian poets, and spearheaded by two literary journals, Aainanagar and Vayavya

With degrees from University of Calcutta (Presidency College), Jadavpur University, the University of Oregon and the University of Texas at Austin, Nandini comes to JGU with extensive teaching experience both in US and India. As an instructor, she has taught graduate and undergraduate classes on the postcolonial historical novel, food literature, the culture of domesticity in postcolonial and US ethnic novels, and theories of the everyday.