by Diya Gupta, PhD researcher, Department of English
Two-and-a-half million men from undivided India served the British during the Second World War. Their experiences are little remembered today, neither in the UK where a Eurocentric memory of the war dominates, nor in South Asia, which privileges nationalist histories of independence from the British Empire. And yet military censorship reports from the Second World War, archived at the British Library’s India Office Records and containing extracts from Indian soldiers’ letters home, bear witness to this counter-narrative. What was it like fighting for the British at a time when the struggle for India’s freedom from British rule was at its most incendiary?
Extracts from these letters, exchanged between the Indian home front and international battlefronts during the Second World War, become textual connectors linking the farthest corners of the Empire and imperial strongholds requiring defence against the Axis alliance. Such letters map the breadth of a global war and plunge deep into the Indian soldier’s psyche, revealing ruptures in the colonial identity foisted on him. Continue reading ‘We become crazy as lunatics’: Responding to the Bengal famine in Indian letters from the Second World War
By Diya Gupta, PhD researcher, Department of English – find her here.
“Choti yeh hai teri saanp ki hi lehar Dogana
Khati hun tere vaste main zahar Dogana
(This plait of yours is the wave of a serpent, Dogana
I take poison because of you, Dogana)”
– Lines from nineteenth-century Urdu Rekhti poet Insha Allah Khan
What do we know about the representation of same-sex romantic and sexual relations in early nineteenth-century north India? And how does this relate to the transnational realm of early twentieth-century democratic thought? A postcolonial conversation on recent publications by two outstanding postcolonial scholars revealed how love and desire, revolutionary ethics and aesthetics, connect these two worlds in the final King’s in Conversation with series for 2015/16.
Continue reading Loving, Living and Resisting: a Postcolonial Conversation
By Prof. Josephine McDonagh, Professor of Nineteenth Century Literature and Dr Rowan Boyson, Lecturer in English Literature
How might the humanities contribute to an understanding of the current refugee ‘crisis’? That was the general question that generated the informal session of staff and researchers in the English Department held on 10th February, 2016.
Continue reading Research Hour: Refugees and Migrants
By Sinéad Murphy, PhD student in Comparative Literature
The King’s Fantastic Talks series came to life with its first instalment on 23rd October, with Prof Pablo Mukherjee delivering a riveting and trenchant study of third world non-aligned science policy and science fiction in India in the mid-twentieth century, focusing on the fiction of Satyajit Ray. Though Ray is better-known outside of India for his films, Mukherjee argues that Ray’s fiction and films are bound by similar aims, particularly the drive to achieve a modernist style which can adequately reflect the process of uneven modernisation in a newly postcolonial third world nation.
Continue reading King’s Fantastic Talks