Literature & Social Justice Keynote

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Lehigh Culture & Community / Literature & Social Justice

This year, thanks to generous support from the English Department, the Literature and Social Justice Graduate Conference will host its first external keynote speaker: Dr. Kavita Daiya.


Dr. Kavita Daiya is Associate Professor of English and Affiliated Faculty in the Women’s Studies Program and Global Women’s Institute at George Washington University.  In AY 2015-2016, she held the NEH endowed Chair in the Humanities at Albright College, focusing on Global Migration and Asia.  She was Mellon Regional Faculty Fellow at the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania (2014-2015).  She serves as Associate Editor of the MLA-Allied Association journal “South Asian Review.” She has also been a Research Fellow at the Globalization Project at the University of Chicago.

Prof. Daiya’s research and teaching expertise spans postcolonial literature and cinema, gender studies, globalization, peace and conflict studies, and ethnic American studies. Her current book focuses on ethnic migrations, citizenship, and gender in South Asia and the United States.  She has written numerous articles on the 1947 Partition, South Asian literature and culture, South African Literature, gender studies, and transnational cinema, and her first book was published in the US and India: Violent Belongings: Partition, Gender and National Culture in Colonial India (Philadelphia: Temple UP, [2008] 2011; New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2013).

She directs a Digital Humanities Histories of Violence and Migration initiative (  She has co-edited a special issue “Imagining South Asia” of the “South Asian Review,” and has been invited to present her work at the US State Department, University of Chicago, Amherst College, University of Maryland, University of Pennsylvania, Brandeis University, Georgetown University, and the University of Michigan, among others.  Her research has been generously supported by fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, and George Washington University’s Global Women’s Institute and Sigur Center for Asian Studies. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of The 1947 Partition Archive. In 2013, she co-founded the Philadelphia South Asian American Association.


As Hannah Arendt and Zygmunt Bauman noted fairly early, global migration has been the defining feature of modernity in the twentieth century. These border-crossings and their postcolonial legacies are the focus of Dr. Daiya’s keynote talk, “Modernity, Postcoloniality, and Border Crossings,” which starts out in post-45 Asia, and ends in the contemporary United States. Engaging an eclectic aesthetic archive of border-crossings that includes literature, media, and film, she maps the violent legacies of displacement, decolonization, and walled states for those who become its refugees.

The keynote will take place on Friday, March 10 at 4:10pm in Williams Hall, Global Commons as the start of the 2017 Literature and Social Justice Graduate Conference. It is free and open to the public. Please join us in welcoming Dr. Daiya to Lehigh!

For more information, visit the conference website and follow us on social media: @lsjlehigh for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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