A.A. in Social and Behavioral Sciences, Ventura College, Ventura
B.A. in English, California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo
M.A. in English, University of California Riverside, Riverside
Sri Lankan / South Asian Anglophone literature
Sri Lankan / South Asian North American literature
Asian American studies
I read anything that falls expansively under the category of “Sri Lankan Anglophone” literature (and many more things that can’t be listed here) to look at how these works make ethical demands of readers in relation to a war that is, in many respects, not over. I think about the limits and potentials of literature to ethically engage questions of trauma, justice, and memory. I’m invested in how the literary, the ‘real,’ and the clinical intersect to muddy our understanding of what forms of knowledge and practice are accepted and privileged in responding ethically to violence. To this end, I trace how the works I read resist “trauma” as it has come to be understood, practiced, and theorized within the Western academy. I think about the imaginative potential of fiction to recognize lived realities that foreground a different way to approach theory, such that literature and theory might together respond to political violence.
My interests lie at the intersection of language, trauma, and otherness. I’m currently interested in examining how South Asian American / Anglophone literature depicts life lived within and around trauma. Specifically, I look at how these depictions illustrate trauma as operating differently from its theorizations by traditional, Western-oriented trauma studies.
By examining how Sri Lankan Anglophone literature depicts the negotiation of the trauma of both human-created and natural disasters, I trace how representations of trauma by Sri Lankan authors push against trauma studies as it is understood and practiced within its Euro-American theorizations. I am invested in abiding by the ways in which the literary, the ‘real,’ and the clinical intersect to muddy our understanding of what forms of knowledge and practice are accepted and privileged in responding ethically to violence. My work pushes me to think about what it means to consistently read a body of literature that depicts trauma, and about how this literature is one of the few ways in which the object of Sri Lanka and its people become legible to the world. Thus, while I suggest that Sri Lankan Anglophone literature depicts trauma in ways unaccounted for in Western trauma theory, I also insist on thinking through the ways in which this literature also depicts happiness, pleasure, and joy as sitting alongside trauma.
Recent Activity – Conference Presentations
“In front of us the way is seen, but behind us the road is gone”: Counter-Moments to Trauma in Shyam Selvadurai’s The Hungry Ghosts and Jean Arasanayagam’s “All is Burning.” Paper presented at American Comparative Literature Society’s Annual Conference, March 2018.
“‘I try to explain love in shillings’: Harboring Love and Remittances in Shailja Patel’s Migritude.” Paper presented at the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States Conference. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, April 2017.
“The Global South Speaks Back: Queering Love and Remittances in Shailja Patel’s Migritude.” Paper presented at The Deep South in the Global South Conference. University of Louisiana at Lafayette, April 2017
“Killing Theory: A Defiance of Trauma Theory in Nayomi Munaweera’s Island of a Thousand Mirrors.” Paper presented at (E)racing Theory, (En)gendering Praxis Conference. University of California, Irvine, March 2017.
“Humanity for Robots: A Guide to Passing as a Person.” Paper co-presented with Ande Murphy at the 30th Annual California State University Student Research Competition. California State University Bakersfield, April 2016.
“Imagine me”: Why We Might Want to Imagine Humbert in Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita.” Paper presented at the 7th Annual Sage Student Research Conference. California State University Channel Islands, May 2015
Co-Founder, Explosions and Survival Reading Group a UC Riverside (2017 – present)
President, Graduate Students in English Association at UC Riverside (2017-2018)
Co-Chair, (Dis)junctions Graduate Conference at UC Riverside (2017-2018)
Representative, Graduate Student English Association at UC Riverside (2016-2017)
Co-Founder, Asian American / Anglophone Literature Reading Group at UC Riverside (2016-present)
Co-Founder, Explosions and Survival Reading Group at UC Riverside, (2017-present)
Co-Chair, “The Inadequate Human: A Mini Symposium on Gender, Disability, and Robots” at California State University Channel Islands (2015)