Dr Maya Caspari
My PhD research examined the politics of touch in contemporary world literature, with a focus on authors including Teju Cole, Han Kang, Claudia Rankine and Katja Petrowskaja. Bringing insights from feminist phenomenology, postcolonial theory and trauma studies into dialogue, my project explored how these authors engage, problematise and extend recent theorisations of literary resistance through their experimental poetics. My project was funded by the AHRC WRoCAH consortium.
Engagement and Impact
I am very interested in how academic research can be translated into public exhibitions, events and digital spaces. Before beginning my PhD, I worked at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), where I edited the ICA Bulletin and co-ordinated digital content. I have continued to work as a freelance writer and editor. This has included projects with the ICA, Frames of Representation (FoR) film festival, the Migration Museum and work as a freelance reader for Granta magazine. Other recent projects include:
- Curatorial work with the Durban Holocaust Centre in South Africa, as part of the AHRC project "Mobilising Multidirectional Memory to Build More Resilient Communities in South Africa". This involved the organisation of a public film screening and commemoration event in Durban, South Africa.
- Co-organising the symposium 'Life Narratives: Self-Representation in an Age of Human Rights', as well as a knowledge exchange event with museum professionals.
- Organising a public film screening of Concerning Violence + director Q&A at Hyde Park Picturehouse, as part of the Archives of Resistance conference.
- Collaboration with the Critical Life research group to initiate a digital platform for interviews, articles and discussion exploring the question of what it means to live and read critically today.
- Programming and coordinating Queer Migrations at the Migration Museum in London, a late event including spoken word poets, a panel conversation and music.
‘Moving Archives, Touch and World Literary Melancholy in Han Kang’s The Vegetarian’, Journal of Postcolonial Writing (forthcoming)
‘Subjunctive Remembering; Contingent Resistances in Katja Petrowskaja’s Vielleicht Esther’, in Minority Discourses in Germany since 1990: Intersections, Interventions, Interpolations, ed. by Jonathan Skolnik, Ela Gezen, and Priscilla Layne (Berghahn, forthcoming 2021).
‘Writing Violence: In conversation with Katja Petrowskaja’, Wasafiri, 34.3 (2019), 71–74.
‘Dystopian Motherhood’, Another Gaze: A Feminist Film Journal, 2 (2018), 126–30
Reviews and Interviews
‘Writing Whitness: A Conversation with Claudia Rankine’, wasafiri.org, 2020
“There Are No ‘Other’ People”: A Conversation with Katja Petrowskaja, Los Angeles Review of Books, 2018
‘Review: 'Teju Cole’s “Known and Strange Things”’, Wasafiri, 32.2 (2017)
‘Review: “The Future Perfect”’, Another Gaze: A Feminist Film Journal, 1 (2017)
‘The Art of Witnessing: Son of Saul’, ICA Bulletin, 2016
‘Impunity, Fear and Filmmaking: Joshua Oppenheimer’s Documentaries’, ICA Bulletin, 2015
The Past is Never Dead: An Interview with Joshua Oppenheimer, ICA Bulletin, 2015
“Touch, race and the Development of ‘the Human’: Claudia Rankine's poetics”, material encounters: a workshop on more than human touch, Leeds, January 2020;
'The Politics of Touch - Subjunctive Remembering/Contingent Resistances' with response from Cathy Caruth, Recognition Reparation and Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma, Stellenbosch South Africa, December 2018;
'Feminist Resistance and World Literature: Melancholy, Touch and Performance in Teju Cole's Open City and Han Kang's The White Book', Archives of Resistance, Leeds, June 2018; ‘Touching Histories: Empathy in the Body of World Literature', Memory Studies Association Conference, December 2017;
'The Poetics of Potentiality as Feminist Resistance', Sibéal Annual Conference: The Art of Resistance: Interdependencies and Co-Becoming, November 2017;
'"Subjunctive Remembering" in Katja Petrowskaja's Vielleicht Esther', Life Narratives: Self-Representation in an Age of Human Rights, Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre (JHGC), June 2017;
'The Limits of Cosmopolitan Empathy: Teju Cole's Open City', MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory, University of Manchester, September 2017;
“Emigrants, as is well known, tend to seek out their own kind”: W. G. Sebald and the Ambivalence of Empathy', Beyond Sebald: New Trajectories in Sebald Studies, University of Leeds, May 2017;
'Touching Histories: Multidirectional Memory in Katja Petrowskaja's Vielleicht Esther', Minorities and Minority Discourses in Germany since 1990: Intersections, Interventions, Interpolations, UMass Amherst, March 2017
Funding and Awards
Postcolonial Studies Association and Journal of Postcolonial Writing Postgraduate Essay Prize (2020)
AHRC WRoCAH Doctoral Studentship (2016-2019)
WRoCAH KEP Award for Life Narratives and Human Rights Symposium (Johannesburg, 2017); Queer Migrations (London, 2019)
Provost's Studentship (UCL, 2013-4)
Fitzgerald Prize; Waugh Scholarship (University of Oxford, 2008-12)
- BA English and Modern Languages (German), University of Oxford, First Class
- MA Comparative Literature, UCL, Distinction
Research groups and institutes
- Centre for World Literatures
- Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies