Gnei Soraya Zarook

A.A., Ventura College, Ventura
B.A., California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo
M.A., University of California Riverside, Riverside

Research Areas:

Sri Lankan / South Asian Anglophone literature
Sri Lankan / South Asian North American literature
Postcolonial studies
Trauma studies
Terrorism studies
Gender and violence
Narrative medicine

Research Interests:
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 also 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. I am also part of the SWANA Region Radio Collective: http://anchor.fm/swana and the Women’s Rights After War project: https://www.wrawproject.org/.

Recent Activity:

University Service

Member, UC Riverside South Asia Graduate Student Initiative, 2019—present
Co-organizer, Interrogating South Asia: Faculty Roundtable and Artist Talk, UC Riverside, Winter 2020
Co-organizer, A Reading and Dialogue with Anuradha Bhagwati, UC Riverside, Spring 2019
Co-chair, (dis)junctions 2017: Trauma and Mourning in a Time of Insecurity, UC Riverside, Fall 2017
Co-organizer, Nayomi Munaweera: A Reading and Conversation, UC Riverside, Spring 2017
Co-organizer, The Inadequate Human: A Mini Symposium on Gender, Disability, and Robots, CSU Channel Islands, Fall 2015

Department Service

Member, English Graduate Admissions Committee, UC Riverside, 2018—2019
Panelist, First Generation Experiences, English Open House, UC Riverside, 2018, 2019
President, Graduate Students in English Association, UC Riverside, 2017—2018
Representative, Graduate Students in English Association, UC Riverside, 2016—2017 

Invited Talks

Lecture and discussion. “Fatimah Asghar: Ways to Be a Writer,” Perspectives on Multicultural Literature, CSU Channel Islands, Fall 2019.

Lecture and discussion. “Negotiations of Place in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide,” ENGL102W: Introduction to Critical Methods, UC Riverside, May 2019.

Lecture and discussion. “‘It is the same air this side as that’: Windows and The Mutability of the Self in Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine.” ENGL139: Asian American Literature, UC Riverside, May 2018.

Lecture and discussion. “Killing Theory: A Defiance of Trauma Theory in Nayomi Munaweera’s Island of a Thousand Mirrors,” ENGL139T: Studies in Asian American Literature, UC Riverside, February 2018.

Discussant. “Art Place Japan LA: A Conversation on Creative Placemaking,” USC, Los Angeles, CA, November 2015. 

Conference Presentations

“‘To live in both words’: Holding Love, Grief, and Trauma in Sonali Deraniyagala’s Wave,” Interrogating South Asia: Borders, Epistemology and Relationalities, UCI, Irvine, CA, Fall 2019. 

“‘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,’” 28th Annual British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference (BCPS), Savannah, GA, February 2019.

“‘I try to explain love in shillings’: Queering Love and Remittances in Shailja Patel’s Migritude,” The Deep South in the Global South Conference (DSGS), University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, LA, April 2017.     

“Harboring Affect in Shailja Patel’s Migritude,” 31st Annual MELUS Conference, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA, April 2017.

“A Defiance of Trauma Theory in Nayomi Munaweera’s Island of a Thousand Mirror,” (E)racing Theory, (En)gendering Praxis, UC Irvine, Irvine, CA, March 2017.

“Humanity for Robots: A Guide to Passing as a Person,” 30th Annual California State University Student Research Competition, CSU Bakersfield, Bakersfield, CA, April 2016.