comparative literature and world literature
anticolonialism, postcolonialism, tricontinentalism
Twentieth-Century Solidarity Movements and Activism
HIV/AIDS Crises and their Afterlives
Current writing & research
I write about activism: anticolonial revolutionaries in the 1910s-1920s; anti-racist thinkers in the 1930s-1940s; Third World solidarity in the 1950s-1960s; anti-apartheid movements in the 1970s; and AIDS activism in the 1980s-1990s.
World Literature for the Wretched of the Earth: anticolonial aesthetics, postcolonial politics
My academic work so far has focused on anticolonial and antiauthoritarian movements in British India in the early twentieth century. I have written about Bhagat Singh, M.K. Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar, W.E.B. Du Bois, Emma Goldman, among others. I have published essays in many journals including Postcolonial Studies, Interventions, and the PMLA.
My book on radical anticolonial thought in India, World Literature for the Wretched of the Earth, is forthcoming with Fordham University Press in Fall 2020. This book shows how anticolonial thinkers theorised practices of reading as ways to enact egalitarian politics for a postcolonial world.
YOU ARE LAMAR: an autobiography of my uncle
I am currently writing about how we remember the initial HIV/AIDS crisis – and, more importantly, how we forget it. I look at the ways we romanticise AIDS activism, and how we forget those still living with HIV in favour of focusing on those who died too soon. I am interested in how we recover certain lives and practices while ignoring others, and the various ways in which we wrestle with our pockmarked histories. I have published essays on this across the internet, including Public Books.
My current book project, You Are Lamar, is an ‘autobiography’ my great-uncle who died from HIV/AIDS in 1993. The book is about about gay uncles, the ongoing AIDS crisis, and queer inheritance. It is a book about discovering that the ‘families we choose’ might include the families we have had all along.
Anticolonial Sociology: Afro-Asia from Vitalism to Solidarity
My next academic book, Anticolonial Sociology, reveals how anticolonial and postcolonial activists drew on early twentieth-century social scientific theory to envision solidarities and communities ‘underneath the colour line’ during the Cold War. This project shows how the most vibrant sociological thinkers in the twentieth century — W.E.B. Du Bois, B.R. Ambedkar, Kwame Nkrumah, among many others — were students from the colonised world. So far, I have published essays about B.R. Ambedkar’s anti-caste sociological and historical methodologies in volumes for Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press.
Advocacy & activism
I approach human rights by starting from histories of people of colour, diasporic communities, and other marginalised communities.
In South Asia, I am committed to recuperating the legacy of B.R. Ambedkar and asserting Dalit (formerly 'untouchable') rights, as well as LGBTQ+ rights. I have written essays about the 1989 Prevention of Atrocities Act, the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, and Supreme Court cases involving human rights issues. In South Africa, I work on post-Apartheid anti-racist activism, especially movements to decolonise university curricula. In the US, the UK, and Canada, I seek to reveal the afterlives of the 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis, as well as to foreground ongoing health crises that disproportionately affect queer people and people of colour. I have also written about the relationship between human rights and global climate change.
In Hong Kong, I am committed to demands for the right to assembly, for egalitarian representation, for political accountability, for the duty to protest inequality, and for a world without imperialism and injustice.
I am an assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong. In 2018-2019, I was a Fellow in the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University; in 2015-2016, I was the Mellon Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow in ‘Bibliomigrancy’ at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I received my PhD from Northwestern University in 2015.
I write book reviews, personal essays, and other sorts of things for sites around the internet, including pieces for Los Angeles Review of Books, Scroll, and Public Books. I am also translating Asja Lacis's memoir about avant-garde theatre, Bertolt Brecht, and Walter Benjamin, from German to English. I love to swim, make reading lists, and wander aimlessly in cities.
When I was seventeen, I wrote and directed a musical based on the epic of Gilgamesh.