Comparative literature and world literature
ANTICOLOnialism, postcolonialism, tricontinentalism
Twentieth-Century Solidarity and ActivisM
HIV/AIDS Crises and their Afterlives

Elam-Iran-Photo.JPG

Academic research & teaching

I work on literature & history of the 'global south', especially anticolonial and antiauthoritarian movements in British India in the early twentieth century. I also work on Black American anti-racist thought in the 1920s and 1930s, Third World solidarity movements during the Cold War, and anti-Apartheid activism in South Africa in the 1960s-1980s. 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

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong. In 2018-2019, I am a Fellow in the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University. I have previously taught at the University of Toronto, and in 2015-2016, I was the Mellon Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow in 'Bibliomigrancy' at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

My teaching has focused on comparative world literature, especially literature from South Asia, Africa, and the Black Diaspora. I regularly teach courses on world literature, postcolonial theory, diaspora studies, and human rights law & literature.

 A crowd for M.K. Gandhi

A crowd for M.K. Gandhi

Human rights advocacy & public engagement

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. 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. 

I am currently working on a series of public essays on twentieth-century activism, focusing especially on movements like Afro-Asian solidarity in advance of the 1955 Asian African Conference at Bandung, Indonesia; and ACT-UP. 

 Steve Biko

Steve Biko

Personal projects & research

I am currently working on a book about queer relatives and the families we find out we had all along. I am also translating Asja Lacis's memoir about avant-garde theatre, Bertolt Brecht, and Walter Benjamin, from German to English.

I have written various book reviews, personal essays, and other sorts of things for sites around the internet, including pieces for Los Angeles Review of Books, Quarterly Conversation, and Public Books.

When I was seventeen, I wrote and directed a musical based on the epic of Gilgamesh. 

 
 Two men swing dancing at Fire Island, NY, 1970s

Two men swing dancing at Fire Island, NY, 1970s