Dr. Priya Kumar
Specialization: Study of India, Language and Literature (non-U.S.)
Home institution in US: University of Iowa, Iowa City
Host Institution in India: Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi       
Start date/Month in India: September 2012
Duration of grant: 9 months

Brief Bio:
Dr. Priya Kumar earned her Ph.D. in English from McGill University, Canada. She is an associate professor in the English Department at the University of Iowa, where she teaches postcolonial studies and South Asian literature. She is the author of Limiting Secularism: The Ethics of Coexistence in Indian Literature and Film (University of Minnesota Press 2008), which considers the fraught question of religious coexistence in post-independence India and its entanglement with the concept of secularism. Taking on the issue of the anomalous place of religious minorities in a liberal state and society, this project examines literary and cinematic narratives that direct us to the possibility of an ethical relationship with those who have been rendered outside the conditional circles of religious community and nation. Recently, she co-edited a special issue of the South Asian Review on South Asian diasporas. She has also published several essays on the Partition of the Indian subcontinent, on South Asian literature, and on Hindi cinema. Currently, she is working on a second book-project on cross-border migrations within the Indian subcontinent. Her essay on Jacques Derrida’s work on living together and hospitality is forthcoming in a new collection of essays from Fordham University Press, Living Together: Jacques Derrida’s Communities of Violence and Peace, edited by Elisabeth Weber.

Dr. Kumar’s Fulbright project, “Other Exiles: Literature of Displacement and Exile,” will provide research for her current book-project on the mass-displacements that took place in the aftermath of the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 and in 1971. Her goal is to look at these massive population movements and the identities and conflicts that they produced in terms of their enduring legacies. She examines South Asian literature and film that depict the travails of different diasporas--and their descendants--produced by the process of nation-making in the subcontinent. She will also spend part of her time teaching courses on Indian literature and film treating the figure of the migrant and the refugee.