Dr. Kavita Daiya

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Dr. Kavita Daiya

Professor of English and WGSS

Core Faculty


Office Phone: (202) 994-6637
801 22nd St. NW Washington DC 20052

Dr. Daiya is Professor of English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; she is also Affiliated Faculty in the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, the Sustainability Program, and the Global Women’s Institute. A cultural critic, she is interested in how gender and sexuality have historically shaped the cultural imagination of nationalism, and of modern world migrations generated by geopolitical conflict, in South Asia and Asian America. Her feminist analysis of how literature and visual culture aesthetically present conflict, citizenship, and statelessness attends to how race, religion, and class intersect with gender and sexuality. Professor Daiya’s research has been generously supported by the NEH, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, and the George Washington University’s Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Global Women’s Institute. She is committed to creating, and promoting conversations across the Humanities and Social Sciences in inclusive, innovative, and collaborative ways that build on existing strengths and create relationships across departments and programs. Dr. Daiya’s articles and reviews have appeared in edited volumes as well as journals like the PMLA, Genders, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, American Book Review, Journal of Asian Studies, among others. Previously, she served as the Director of the M.A. Program in English (2010-2014).

She, Her, Hers

Dr. Daiya is Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, as well as the former director (2018-2021) of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at GWU. She is the recipient of several honors. Most recently, she received The Award for Excellence in Graduate Faculty Mentoring in The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in 2022. She was also selected as the CCAS Administrative Fellow (with a focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) in the Faculty Administrative Leadership Program (Fall 2021). In Spring 2021 she founded and now directs the Immigration and Migration Studies Micro-Minor in CCAS.

In the past, she has served as visiting NEH Chair in the Humanities at Albright College (2015-2016) and was the Andrew W. Mellon Regional Faculty Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Humanities Forum (2014-2015, 2012-2013). She is a former M.A. Program Director in the English Department (2010-2014). Professor Daiya also serves as Affiliated Faculty in the Global Women’s Institute, the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, the Sustainability Program, and the Peace Studies Program. She was the Associate Editor (Book Reviews) of the interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal South Asian Review (Taylor and Francis) from 2012-2018. She currently serves as an elected member of the Dean’s Council. 

Daiya has also been a visiting scholar at Oxford University, a Ford Foundation Research Fellow at The Globalization Project at the University of Chicago, and a Research Fellow at the Global Women's Institute at GWU. 

Ph.D., English Language and Literature, University of Chicago.

M.A., English Language and Literature, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

B.A., English Language and Literature, Magna cum laude, University of Rochester.

Visiting Scholar, Worcester College, Oxford University.

My scholarship about the cultural histories and socio-political legacies of modern immigration and migration is located at the intersection of Postcolonial Studies, Asian American Studies, Transnational Feminisms, and Race and Ethnic Studies. In its sustained commitment to how gender and sexuality shape citizenship, displacement, and power in the United States and Asia, my scholarship contributes to new directions in Transnational Feminist Studies. My first book Violent Belongings: Partition, Gender, and National Culture in Postcolonial India (Philadelphia: Temple UP, [2008] 2011; New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2013) illuminates how South Asian and South Asian American literature and cinema represent decolonization and gendered violence during the 1947 Partition of South Asia, from 1947-2008. My second book Graphic Migrations: Precarity and Gender in India and the Diaspora (Temple UP, 2020; Yoda Press, 2021) draws upon the insights of Critical Refugee Studies, to offer a feminist analysis of post-1947 geopolitical displacement, diaspora, and refugee experience. It studies migration stories through South Asian and Asian American public culture across a range of media, from literature and film to graphic narratives, photography, print culture, oral histories, advertising, and art. My interest in transmedia and public culture as sites for socio-political critique also led to my edited volume Graphic Narratives about South Asian and South Asian America: Aesthetics and Politics (Routledge, 2019), which is the first edited volume to document the interventionist, critical energy of South Asian and diasporic graphic narratives together, on issues like gender-based violence, ecological justice, authoritarianism, human rights, and colonialism, among others. Recent articles and reviews have appeared in edited volumes as well as journals like PMLA, Genders, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, American Book Review, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of South Asian History and Culture, among others. My work as a member of the Founding Board of Directors of the 1947PartitionArchive.org (2015-2021) is animated by my investment in engaging digital media to advance story-telling and memorialization of the twentieth century’s global histories of displacement. I received my PhD from the University of Chicago.

  • Ten Great Books to Read Before You Graduate: The World After Empire
  • Gender, Modernity, and Globalization in South Asian Literature
  • Contemporary Feminist Theory in a Transnational Context
  • Gender and Sexuality in Global Literature and Film
  • Feminism, Migration, and Media
  • Gender, Race, and Media in Ethnic America
  • Postcolonialism, Race, and Gender in Literature and Film
  • Postcolonialism and Migration in Literature and Film
  • Inequality, Minoritization, and Violence in the 21st Century


Graphic Migrations: Precarity and Gender in India and the Diaspora. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2020. New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2021 (South Asia edition).

Violent Belongings: Partition, Gender, and National Culture in Postcolonial India. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008, 2011. New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2013.

Edited Volume

Graphic Narratives from South Asia and South Asian America: Aesthetics and Politics. Routledge, [hardcover, 2019] paperback, 2021.

Select Refereed Articles

“Intimacy, Imperialism, and America: Revisiting Post-47 Postcolonial and Asian American Writing,” in Asian American Literature in Transition: 1956-1996, eds. Asha Nadkarni and Cathy J. Schlund-Vials. Cambridge University Press, 2021. 326-344.

“The 1947 Partition, War, and Internment: Hidden Histories of Migration and Displacement in Transnational Asia” in Asian American Literature in Transition: 1930-1965, eds. Victor Bascara and Josephine Park. Cambridge University Press, 2021. 87-107.

“Reframing Partition: Gender, Migration, and Storytelling in Conflict Zones,” MLA Guide to Teaching South Asian Women's Writing, eds. Deepika Bahri and Filippo Menozzi, MLA, 2021. 41-51.

“Gender, Sexuality and the Family in South-Asian Fiction,” Oxford History of the Novel in English (Volume 10). The Novel in South and South-East Asia, ed. Alex Tickell. Oxford University Press, 2018. 44-57.

“The World After Empire, or Whither Postcoloniality?” PMLA, Volume 132, Number 1, January 2017, pp. 149–155 (7).

“Partition,” Blackwell Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, eds. Sangeeta Ray and Henry Schwarz. WileyBlackwell, 2016. 1278-1286.

“Ecologies of Intimacy: Gender, Sexuality, and Environment in Indian Fiction” in The Cambridge History of the Indian Novel in English, ed. Ulka Anjaria. Cambridge University Press, 2015. 221-236.

“Refugees, Gender and Secularism in South Asian Literature and Cinema” in Representations of War, Migration and Refugeehood: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, eds. Daniel Rellstab and Christiane Schlote. Routledge, 2014. 263-280.

“Visual Culture and Violence: Inventing Intimacy and Citizenship in Recent South Asian Cinema” in South Asian Transnationalisms: Cultural Exchange in the Twentieth Century (Routledge South Asian History and Culture Series), ed. Babli Sinha. Routledge, 2012. 133-148.

“Home and the Nation: Women, Citizenship and Transnational Migration in Postcolonial Literature.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 44.4 (Dec 2008): 391-402.

“Provincializing America: Engaging Postcolonial Critique and Asian American Studies in a Transnational Mode,” South Asian Review 26.2 (Dec 2005): 265-275.

Co-authored refereed articles

With Sreyoshi Sarkar, “Envisioning the Role of South Asian Gender and Sexuality Studies in the Transcultural Humanities,” in Transcultural Humanities in South Asia: A Critical Anthology, eds. Waseem Anwar and Nosheen Yousaf. Routledge, 2022.

With Turni Chakrabarti and Sukshma Vedere, “Gender, Embodiment, and the Aspirational Middle-Class Imaginary of Indian Advertising,” in Female Body Image and Self-identity in Contemporary Indian Literature and Popular Culture, eds. Srirupa Chatterjee and Shweta Rao Garg. Temple University Press, 2022.

Select Media Appearances and Public Scholarship

“Panel Describes Pandemic’s Impact in India,” by B. L. Wilson, GW Today, May 10, 2021.

“WGSS master’s program applications triple for this fall,” by Ishani Chettri, The Hatchet, Mar 31, 2021.

“#OnlyAtGW: Former U.S. Attorney General Makes Virtual Classroom Visit,” GW Today, 19 October 2020.

“5 Ways to Financially Survive the Pandemic,” Inside Higher Ed, 5 October 2020.

“Observations on the anniversary of the Partition of India,” 19 August 2020, https://templepress.wordpress.com.

“New International Students Should Not Be Barred Entry this Fall,” academeblog.org, the blog of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Magazine Academe, 12 August 2020.

“GW All Access: Kavita Daiya of CCAS,” 11 August 2020.

“The current plight of international students,” Inside Higher Ed, 16 June 2020. https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2020/06/16/colleges-need-help-international-studentsnow-opinion

Interviewed by Arielle Mitropoulos from ABC News, “Loss of international students could damage US economy, experts say,” July 14, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/Business/loss-internationalstudents-damage-us-economy-experts/story?id=71754388

Podcast, “Episode 6: Conversations with Kavita Daiya and Chris Cantwell,” Inside C21 Podcast, February, 2020. https://uwm.edu/c21/media/inside-c21-podcast/