Ananya Jahanara Kabir is Professor of English Literature at King’s College London. She researches the intersection of the written text with other forms of cultural expression within acts of collective memorialization and forgetting.
Through an ERC Advanced Grant (2013-2018), she led ‘Modern Moves’, an interdisciplinary investigation into African-heritage social dance and music. For her innovative work in the Humanities, she received the Infosys Humanities Prize (2018), awarded by the Infosys Science Foundation, India, and the Humboldt Forschungspreis (Humboldt Prize, 2018), awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Germany.
She is currently writing ‘Alegropolitics: Connecting on the Afromodern Dance Floor.’ Her new research projects explore further the concepts of transoceanic creolization through cultural production across the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds. She loves the challenge of working across languages and genres. The role of pleasure in inflecting the politics of cultural production remains a long-standing interest through various specialisations she has undertaken, from the medieval to the postcolonial periods.
Research Interests and PhD Supervision
- Conflict, culture, creativity, and heritage; creolisation
- Relationship between the written text and non-textual cultural production, including: dance; music and music notation; visual and plastic art; film.
- Memory Studies, including comparative approaches between South Asian and other areas; the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean
- South Asian Literary and cultural production, especially relating to the Partition of India and the Kashmir conflict
- Medievalism and postcolonialism
Professor Kabir has supervised successfully numerous PhDs who are now placed in institutions worldwide. She welcomes unconventional research plans that want to cross languages, genres, and periods, and theoretical orthodoxies. She is happy to help shape PhD projects that work with languages other than English: especially French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Bengali, and Creoles, and has supervised theses using French, Spanish, Bengali, Assamese, and Siraiki. Projects must be interested above all in unpacking the pleasures, protocols, and politics of literary texts.
For more details, please see her full research profile.
Expertise and Public Engagement
Drawing on her research and outreach work as director of Modern Moves, Professor Kabir regularly gives seminars and workshops at dance festivals worldwide and collaborates with festival organisers to shape the research element of their productions.
In Berlin, she is engaging with curatorial programming delivered at several high profile cultural instiutions, including the House of World Cultures and SAVVY Contemporary.
She has appeared on radio and TV nationally and internationally to speak on a range of subjects within my expertise, from the Kashmir conflict to the pleasures of texts about maroons and pirates.
One of her most memorable aspects of public engagement has been acting as cultural consultant for Mattel, Inc., one of the world’s largest producers of children’s toys, on the new series of their television programme Thomas and Friends, set in India.
Professor Kabir teaches modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels that cross-cut historical periods and geographic spaces, and make students think harder about how literary production intersects with the big picture through the history and politics of colonialism, postcolonialism, slavery, neoliberal politics. Her modules are always research-led, which means that she updates her teaching to reflect shifts in her research agenda. In the past, therefore, she has offered modules on the Partition of India, writing from Pakistan, and the Kashmir conflict; more recently, her modules involve pirates and sugar plantations.
- Dance and Decolonization in Africa, co-edited with Elina Djebbari, special issue of Journal of African Cultural Studies 41.4 (2019)
- Partition’s Post-Amnesias: 1947, 1971 and Modern South Asia (Women Unlimited, Delhi, 2013, and University Press, Dhaka, 2014)
- Territory of Desire: Representing the Valley of Kashmir (University of Minnesota Press, 2009; Permanent Black, Delhi, 2009). Shortlisted for the 2010 European Society for Studies in English Prize
- Debating the Afropolitan, co-edited with Emilia María Durán-Almarza and Carla Rodríguez González (Routledge, 2018)
- Postcolonial Approaches to the European Middle Ages: Translating Cultures, co-edited with Deanne Williams (Cambridge University Press, 2005; paperback re-issue 2010)