Professor Rosinka Chaudhuri, director of the Centre for Studies in Social Studies, Calcutta, spent a productive eight weeks in Oxford during Michaelmas term 2017 and a further week in Hilary 2018 as the first Andrew W. Mellon-funded Global South Visiting Professor. Her presence here garnered press coverage in India and attracted very good audiences in Oxford bringing together colleagues and students from across the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as from across the UK and further afield.
The highlight of the Michaelmas term visit was the World Literature workshop held at St Hugh’s College on 9 November 2017 in which Professor Chaudhuri was joined by Elleke Boehmer (Oxford), Peter McDonald (St Hugh’s), Pablo Mukherjee (Warwick), and Stefan Helgesson (Stockholm). This event attracted a lively audience of around 60 students and colleagues. On 10 November Professor Chaudhuri gave a further well-attended talk on ‘The global significance of the 2016 student protest and arrests at Jawaharlal Nehru University’ as part of the TORCH ‘Race and Resistance’ programme. Before that she also participated in the launch of Fighting Words: Fifteen Books that Shaped the Postcolonial World on 20 October. In addition, she met regularly with undergraduates, graduates and colleagues working in her fields of interest throughout the term and in her final week she gave a seminar on world poetry as part of the World M.St. course in the English Faculty.
Her keynote for the second World Literature workshop held at St Hugh’s College on 7 March 2018 was the highlight of the Hilary visit. This was the culmination of a full afternoon programme of talks by established and early-career scholars from around the UK and abroad:
2pm Introductory talk Robert J. C. Young (NYU)
3pm Questions of method led by Asha Rogers (Birmingham, discussing The Literary Thing), Fariha Shaikh (Birmingham, Indian Arrivals) and Andrew Dean (Oxford, Artefacts of Writing) with Rosinka Chaudhuri, Elleke Boehmer (Oxford) and Peter McDonald (Oxford).
5pm Keynote lecture Rosinka Chaudhuri ‘Whose World?’
6pm Panel-led Q&A with Francesca Orsini (SOAS), Robert Young (NYU), Jane Hiddleston (Oxford), and Matthew Reynolds (Oxford).
The event attracted an audience of 80, including around ten graduate students from London, Birmingham, York and elsewhere in the UK who applied for the travel bursaries we offered using some of the Mellon funds.
The feedback on all these events has been extremely positive and the consequences of Professor Chaudhuri’s visit will continue to be felt for many years to come. It not only made it possible for her to consolidate her already strong collaborations with Elleke Boehmer, Peter McDonald and Francesca Orsini, but to establish new links with younger scholars like Asha Rogers and Fariha Shaik and with other visitors to Oxford including the Norwegian scholar Jakob Lothe and Stefan Helgesson from Sweden.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Andrew W. Mellon Fund and everyone at TORCH for making this possible and St Hugh’s College for hosting the main events.