Dr Arunima Bhattacharya

Profile

I returned to Leeds as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in October 2019, having completed my Leeds International Research Scholarship (LIRS) funded doctoral research project here in July 2019.

My Doctoral thesis titled, “Narrativization of Calcutta through Handbooks: 1880-1940” was supervised by Prof. Graham Huggan.

The AHRC funded project where I am engaged now is titled, The Other from Within: Indian Anthropologists and the Birth of a Nation at the School of History in the University of Leeds.

I had joined the Institute of Advanced Studies in Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh as the Anniversary Fellow in August 2019 and continued there as a Visiting Research Scholar till December 2020.

I am also involved in planning and teaching on a module that deals with  Decolonial Approaches to critical thinking and has evolved from the LHRI funded Sadler Seminar series project, ‘Curating/Creating a Decolonial Classroom’ for which I worked as the Project Support Officer.

Before joining the University of Leeds as a doctoral candidate I was employed as an Assistant Professor in the West Bengal Education Service and posted at Durgapur Government College, India. 

Research interests

The “Other from Within” project involves academics from the Universities of Leeds, Edinburgh, and Manchester and focuses on the contributions made by Indian anthropologists to global networks of research that aspired towards the reinvention of anthropology as a cosmopolitan, transnational discipline and contributed to the process of decolonisation in India. Following from my doctoral research on colonial and postcolonial urban environments I am looking into official anthropological interventions into analysing the refugee resettlement crisis in Bengal and the influences that dominated the kind of research that was being undertaken by the Indian government as a basis for policy formulations. The other strand of research that I am invested in is following up the kinship networks between early sociologists, academic and political, that shaped the initial academic interest in Sociology and Anthropology in universities located in principal cities of India. This research is invested in the transnational context that fostered inter-disciplinary and anti-colonial critical thinking that shaped the initial trajectories of these disciplines in independent India.         

In my work at the IASH during my brief period as the Anniversary Fellow before joining the above project and later as a Visiting Research Scholar I have focused on the Andaman islands and its history of strife with the Indian mainland, particularly over the turbulent shifts of power during the later years of the Second World War. This study is located at the interface of ecological crisis, migration, and settlement and the concept of the Indian nation-state as it was emerging into an independent country over this decade (1940-1950).

My doctoral research funded by Leeds International Research Fellowship examined handbooks and guidebooks written during the turn of the twentieth century in and about colonial Calcutta, the first capital of the British Raj in India. My work contextualizes a close textual study of handbooks in a critical reading of colonial urban geographies. Using an interdisciplinary methodology, I showcase the impact of colonial governmental measures on colonial historiography and the regulation of space and body as is registered in the handbooks of the period. My work looks at the handbook form as a distilled reflection on colonial policies of segregation and control. The textual manipulation of space, body, and history is explored in the context of official historiography, the complex paradigms of race inflected with class and urban planning measures. I am currently developing this into a monograph.
 

I co-founded and co-directed Women's Paths: Rewriting Physical and Discursive Borders,
a research group about women's writing around the world.
As a co-director along with two others, my role comprised organizing and chairing reading group discussions and a year-long seminar series where PhD students, early career researchers and academics from within and outside of the university present their current research. These events were networking opportunities and contributed towards an awareness of the UK research climate in gender studies. As directors, we have also engaged with the community by organizing poetry readings with Yorkshire-based poets and also presented events in conjunction with the Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
This project has been awarded by the sponsorship for two consecutive years from the following sources apart from conference organisation grants:
Leeds Humanities Research Institute (2015-2016)
Faculty of Arts. Research Group Grant (2016-1017)
We ensured that the group continued in its third year with new directors who received renewed funding.

Selected  Publications:

Editor:

Current, Editor of ‘Out of the Blox’, the blog section of the journal Sanglap: Journal of Literary and Cultural Inquiry an online, peer- reviewed, open-access, biannual journal in literary and cultural studies, indexed in DOAJ, ProQuest, & MLA Directory of Periodicals, and archived in the Library of Congress, British Library, National Library of Scotland, and others.

Editor of “The Other from Within: Indian Anthropology and the Birth of a Nation” website and blog.

“B.S. Guha’s Studies in Social Tensions Among the Refugees from Eastern Pakistan” blog for The Other from Within: Indian Anthropology and the Birth of a Nation, 2020, available at https://www.theotherfromwithin.com/post/b-s-guha-s-studies-in-social-tensions-among-the-refugees-from-eastern-pakistan

 

Journals:

“Introduction” in “Cities, Space and Literature”, special issue of Sanglap: Journal of Literary and Cultural Inquiry, ed. by Arunima Bhattacharya and Anuparna Mukherjee, 3:2., 1-26 (2017).

“That was my last act of love’: Sylvia Plath and The Bell Jar". Pegasus Volume on Reading and Writing Difference: Gender and Literature. (Ed.) Sanjukta Das. Kolkata: Monfakira, 2013. Print. pp. 142-154 (ISBN: 978-93-80542-56-0)

 

Edited book:

‘Producing the Colonial Capital: Calcutta in Handbooks’, in Other Capitals of the Nineteenth Century, ed. By Richard Hibbit, Laura Scuriatti and Arunima Bhattacharya, Palgrave Literary Urban Series (London: Palgrave, forthcoming)

 

Book Chapter:

‘Everyday Objects and Conversations: Experiencing ‘Self’ in the Transnational Space of UK’, in Asian Women, Identity and Migration Experiences of Transnational Women of Indian Origin/Heritage. ed. by Nish Belford and Reshmi Lahiri-Roy (London: Routledge, 2021). <https://www.routledge.com/Asian-Women-Identity-and-Migration-Experiences-of-Transnational-Women/Belford-Lahiri-Roy/p/book/9780367516819> 

 

Invited contribution:

 

Conference and event Organisation:
 

As part of The Other from Within: Indian Anthropologists and the Birth of a Nation (@withinother) Oct 2019-Now

As Project Support Officer on the Curating/Creating a Decolonial Classroom project (@decolclassroom): Jan 2019-July 2019

  • “Empire, Coins and Sea trade: Coinage and Shipping Documents from British India in the Special Collections at Leeds University Library”, co-organised with Leeds University Library Special Collections, 14th June 2019.
  • “Why is My Curriculum White: Interactive Workshop for students by students” 15 May 2019.
  • “Decolonising Historical Research” with academics from Leeds, York, Manchester, and Sheffield. 18th March 2019.
  • Immersive performance by Momin Swaitat and role of theatre as a means of recuperation. 18 January 2019.
  • Roundtable Discussion: “Theatre as an engaged, community-focused medium, and on performance as epistemic practice”. 16 January 2019.

As part of the Women’s Paths Project:

  • ‘Reclaiming the Darkest Corners’: Discussing Women’s Participation in Protest Marches Organised as the co-director of Women’s Paths Research Group, University of Leeds, 5th June 2017. Funded by the Faculty of Arts Research group grant.
  • ‘A Room of Her Own: Writing Women’s Independence around the Globe’. Organized as the co-director of Women’s Paths Research Group, University of Leeds, 20th May 2016. Funded by Leeds Humanities Research Institute.

 

Selected Conference Presentations:

 

  • (Work-in-progress talk) ‘Disciplining the aberrant body in Colonial Calcutta: Calcutta handbooks as regulating devices’. Institute of Advanced Studies in Humanities, University of Edinburgh. 1 July 2020. https://www.iash.ed.ac.uk/ArunimaBhattacharyaWiP 
  • “Studying Gender and Caste as variables that impact ‘social tension’ between East Pakistani refugees and the Indian state in West Bengal: B.S. Guha’s ‘Studies in Social Tensions Among the Refugees from Eastern Pakistan”, in The Other From Within Online Workshop, Oct 13th-15th 2020.
  • “Producing the Colonial Capital: Calcutta in Handbooks.” In Other Capitals of the Nineteenth Century American Comparative Literature Association Annual Convention, University of Utrecht. July 6-9, 2017.
  • “Locating the Other City in Calcutta Guidebooks: Narrativizing the Colonial Capital during the Turn of the 20th Century” in The Uncanny City: Strangers and Strangeness in Urban Literature. Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. June 15-16, 2017.
  • “The Reconfiguring of Core and Periphery in Ahmed Ali's Twilight in Delhi and Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger." Special Panel, ‘Peripheral Modernity and the South Asian Literary-World.’ 24th ECSAS Biennial Conference. University of Warsaw. 27-30 July 2016.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Qualifications

  • PhD in English Literature, University of Leeds (2019)
  • M.Phil in English Litearture (UGC Junior Research Fellowship) Jdavpur University (2013)
  • MA in Englsih Literature, University of Calcutta (2010)
  • BA in English, Presidency College, University of Calcutta (2008)

Professional memberships

  • Institute of Adavnced Research in Humanities, IASH, University of Edinburgh
  • Sanglap: Journal of Literary and Cultural Inquiry (Editorial board member)
  • Postcolonial Studies Association (PSA)

Student education

Currently, my teaching responsibilities include teaching on Decolonial methodologies for research to third-year students. Previously I have taught in the School of English and the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies on introductory modules on prose, drama, and World Literatures. 

I have conducted Final Year Project workshops with students and co-supervised two final year projects in the School of LCS. In 2020 I have served as an external examiner for an M.Phil dissertation on colonial urban space and Crime Fiction from Jadavpur University.  

In recognition of my professional expertise in higher education teaching, I have been awarded Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).