Shuchi Kapila

Department head of Institute for Global Engagement

Assistant Vice President and Senior Global Officer

My scholarly work focuses on nineteenth century England, nineteenth and twentieth century British colonialism in South Asia, and literary and cultural production in postcolonial South Asia.  My teaching includes postcolonial regions in Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia and the settler colonies of New Zealand and Australia.  I study narrative primarily and have taught both the Victorian and the postcolonial novel. I am interested in thinking about the ways that literary forms travel and are transformed in different historical and social contexts.  In my book, Educating Seeta: The Anglo-Indian Family Romance and the Poetics of Indirect Rule (Ohio State Univ Press, 2010), I studied Anglo-Indian romances written by British colonials who lived in India during a period of indirect colonial rule. I argued that the paradoxes of indirect rule in British India were negotiated in “family romances” which encoded political struggle in the language of domestic and familial civility.  Though these novels share some aspects of the Victorian novel, they do not provide neat conclusions and smooth narratives. Instead they become a record of the limits of liberal British colonialism.  This project combined my interest in narrative fiction with colonial history and feminist theory. 

I am currently working on a project on the memory of the Indian partition of 1947, which created the two South Asian nations of India and Pakistan and partitioned the states of Panjab and Bengal.  I am writing about ‘postmemory’ of this event for second and third generations who grew up in independent India.  The partition was a major genocide in which a million people were killed and over ten million crossed the borders of the new nations fleeing from sectarian violence, the largest transfer of population in the twentieth century and an unplanned one at that.  There is now a large archive of partition testimonies, but I am interested in how memory travels and what kinds of cultural practices of memorialization have been progressive and successful in South Asia.  To understand this, I am using an ethnographic approach to narratives and memory practices in the subcontinent and the South Asian diaspora.  Related to this, I published an article on the literature of the Indian partition in South Asian Review in 2011. 

Education and Degrees

Ph.D., English, Cornell University B.A., M.A., M. Phil., Delhi University

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