Sreya Mallika Datta

Sreya Mallika Datta

Profile

My research explores philosophies of "community" in postcolonial West African literatures in terms of how "community", as a philosophical project in these literatures, activates the literary text as well as is manifested as such. I look at Anglophone writing primarily by Nigerian and Ghanaian authors, to assess how "community as philosophy" is articulated as literature, and how as a performative philosophical category, "community" has a definite ontological locus in the architecture of the African postcolonial novel. Broadly, my research hinges on an inescapably interdisciplinary approach, as I grapple with the ways in which disciplines become intimate with one another, and how they inevitably interilluminate and interpenetrate each other's discursive fabrics.

My project traces the ways in which literary development in postcolonial West Africa evolves as a critical discourse on community; alternatively, how community as philosophical discourse autoproduces or generates itself as literature. My thesis moves significantly away from conceptions of community in terms of narrow anthropological categorisations of different ethnicities and their respective customs. It also challenges the view that community is the transcendental, a priori “worldview” or governing consciousness of African literatures, a view that is rampant in critical literature on African fiction.  Instead of viewing community as being anterior to literature, saturating the text with a pre-formed overarching consciousness, I look at how “community as philosophy” is coterminous with the development of African literature itself. In other words, communal philosophy as what can be called “performative theory”, is simultaneously created as it performs its own process of development, instead of being an already completed or established worldview which is then inertly reflected in literature. In placing my analysis at the critical praxis of the philosophy-literature interface,  I investigate the modalities of and developments in philosophies of community throughout the postcolonial period as a critical cognitive, performative, and processual endeavour in West African literature.

Teaching Commitments

Foundations of English Studies

Research Activities

Posters

Datta, Sreya Mallika. "Palm-Wine, Yams, and Pepper Soup: "Performing Community" in Nigerian literatures." Arts, Humanities & Cultures Poster Conference. University of Leeds. 1st November, 2017.

Papers

Datta, Sreya Mallika. "The City and the Bush: Narrative Ecologies in the Works of Cyprian Ekwensi and Amos Tutuola." African Studies Association UK Biennial Conference. University of Birmingham. 11-13th September, 2018.

Datta, Sreya Mallika. "The "Conflagration of Community" in Chigozie Obioma's The Fishermen: New Directions in Postcolonial Nigerian Literature." Researching Africa Day. University of Oxford. 3rd March, 2018.

Datta, Sreya Mallika. “The ‘black canvas of night’: The Afropolitan Aesthetic and The Myth of Return in Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria.” Palaver XIV. Centre for Studies in African Literatures and Cultures. 14-15th March, 2017.

Datta, Sreya Mallika, and Utsa Mukherjee. “Bollywood’s midsummer (night’s) dream: 10 ml Love and the problem(atics) of adaptation.” ‘Indian Shakespeares on Screen’ conference. Asia House, London. 27-29th April, 2016.

Datta, Sreya Mallika, and Anil Pradhan. “‘Women in love’: Zami and the Politics of the Black Lesbian Body in the Diaspora.” Bodies at Work: Reimagining the Lines of (Re)production. Fourth Annual UTA English Graduate Conference, the University of Texas at Arlington. April 7-8th, 2016.

Datta, Sreya Mallika. “Empire on a Plate: Colonial Food Cultures and Cosmopolitan Modernity.” British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS) Conference, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University. 6th-8th April, 2016.

Datta, Sreya Mallika. “uNosilimela: Performing Resistance, an Afrocentric Paradigm.” Journey of Performance and Performing Art Forms within Africa and Beyond. International Conference on African Literatures and Cultures, Centre for Studies in African Literatures and Cultures, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. 11th-12th January, 2016.

Datta, Sreya Mallika, and Utsa Mukherjee. “'So sweet a changeling': The Indian Boy and the politics of representation in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Shakespeare Reconsidered- 25th University Grants Commission International Conference and Theatre Festival. Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. 20th March 2015.

Datta, Sreya Mallika, and Utsa Mukherjee. “’Monstrous Childhoods’: Frankenstein in conversation with The Fifth Child.” The Centre for Studies in Romantic Literature (CSRL). Presidency University, Kolkata, India. 6th February 2015.

Datta, Sreya Mallika, and Utsa Mukherjee. “’Travelling Travel’: Reassessing Contemporary Travel Narratives.” National Seminar ‘Placing the Space: Facets and prospects of Travel Writing’. Aliah University. Kolkata, India. 25th September 2014.

Datta, Sreya Mallika, and Utsa Mukherjee. ‘“Pukka sahibs’ and ‘yellow faces’: reassessing ambivalence in Orwell’s Burma.” International Orwell Symposium ‘Orwell Now!’. University of Lincoln, UK. 12th June 2014.

Other Activities

I am a member of the following academic groups:

  1. LUCAS (Centre for African Studies)
  2. Postcolonial Studies Association
  3. 'Critical Life' research group , University of Leeds
  4. African Studies Association UK

I  co-run the Compton Centre reading group for my supervisor's (Dr Samuel Durrant's) bibliotherapy project. 

I am one of the two School of English postgraduate representatives for the 2018-2019 academic year.

I am a mentor on the Leeds Excellence in the Arts Programme (LEAP) scheme. I also run a discussion group as part of this scheme. 

I co-run the Finding Africa Seminar Series in Leeds.

Awards and Grants

My research is fully funded by the School of English's Bonamy Dobree Scholarship (2017-2020).

I received a travel grant from the Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre to present at the British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS) Annual Conference held at the University of Cambridge in April 2016. 

I received a travel bursary from LUCAS (Leeds University Centre for African Studies) for presenting a paper at the 'Researching Africa Day' conference held at the University of Oxford in March 2018.

I received an Arts, Humanities and Cultures (AHC) Research Dissemination Award to present my research at the ASAUK conference held at the University of Birmingham in September 2018.

Publications

Conference Proceedings

Datta, Sreya Mallika. "uNosilimela: Performing Resistance, an Afrocentric Perspective." Palaver: proceedings of the Forum for Scholars of African Studies, vol. 5. Kolkata: Centre for Studies in African Literatures and Cultures, Jadavpur University (forthcoming 2018).

Book Chapters

Mukherjee, Utsa & Datta, Sreya Mallika. "Travelling Travel: An Indian King's Tryst with Europe." Travel Writing: Travel in Writing: An Anthology of Critical Essays, eds. Ahmed, Tajuddin and Sharmistha Chatterjee Sriwastav. Kolkata: Viswakos Parisad, 2017. pp. 36-44.

Datta, Sreya Mallika and Utsa Mukherjee. “ ‘Pukka Sahibs’and ‘Yellow Faces’: Reassessing Ambivalence in Orwell’s Burma.” George Orwell Now!, ed. Richard Keeble. New York: Peter Lang, 2015. pp.161-174.

Research interests

My research interests are broadly in African literatures, philosophies and theories of community, postclonial studies, and critical theory. 

Qualifications

  • 2017-Present (PhD, University of Leeds)
  • 2015-2017 (M.A. English, First Class, Delhi University)
  • 2012-2017 (B.A. English, First Class, University First Rank, Presidency University, Kolkata)