Dr Shameem Black

BA, Yale University, PhD, Stanford University
Fellow, Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History and Language
College of Asia & the Pacific

Research interests

Globalization, literature, and culture; Anglophone literatures of South Asia and its diaspora; 20th and 21st-century postcolonial literature; yoga and mindfulness; gender studies; transitional justice and reconciliation; humanitarian crisis narratives; ethics and sympathy; microfinance; literature and public advocacy; digital narratives


I joined the Australian National University from the United States, where I received my PhD from Stanford University and served as an Assistant Professor of postcolonial literature in the English Department at Yale University. My work focuses on globalization, culture, and ethics in contemporary Anglophone fiction, with particular attention to South Asia, Asian diasporas, and the cultural work of English in Asia. In all of my research, I’m concerned to understand the significance of cosmopolitan encounters in our contemporary world.

My book, Fiction Across Borders: Imagining the Lives of Others in Late Twentieth-Century Novels (Columbia University Press, 2010), shows how novels from different parts of the world try to represent socially diverse people and places without stereotyping, idealizing, or exoticizing them. This book challenges core models of reading that dominate postcolonial studies, and suggests how scholars, in partnership with fiction writers, might begin to articulate new approaches to the problem of representing those considered "others."

My subsequent project, a series of essays, explores a global body of literature concerned with the problems of reconciliation after mass conflict. Focusing on an era of international courts, truth commissions, political apologies, and commemorative work, these essays investigate how literature from at the turn of the millennium contributes to the process of social restoration. In particular, they explore how people considered “outsiders” to mass conflict might have a role to play in grappling with its aftermath.

While my first love is the novel, my publications have examined cosmopolitanism, sympathy, and the ethics of representation not only in postcolonial fiction but also in nontraditional literary spaces such as cookbooks and microfinance websites. My essays have appeared in Public Culture, South Asia, Social Text, and other journals. I am a Fellow in the Higher Education Academy.

Researcher's projects

My current book project, tentatively titled India's Newest Pose, looks at the changing imaginative life of one of India’s foremost cultural exports: yoga. As rising Asian nations like India aspire to secure status in a changing global order, their cultures become contested projections of national identity and vexed symbols of national power. My research examines contemporary Indian attempts to harness yoga for soft power. In doing so, it reveals the challenges and opportunities a rising nation faces when its culture goes global. Trends in globalized popular culture, such as the appearance of a "yoga fiction" genre in bookstores or the rise of yoga-themed videos on the web, show that the state has many competitors when it comes to defining the social and cultural meanings of yoga. These forms of popular culture paradoxically make India both more and less visible in a globalizing world. This work not only illuminates changing ideas of the Indian nation in an international context, but also suggests how the humanities can contribute to a broader understanding of the rise of Asia.

Current student projects

Ashma Sharma, PhD (Panel Member): "Contemporary Postcolonial Life Writing by the South Asian Diaspora"

Anuparna Mukherhee, PhD (Panel Member): "'The Dust of Time': The Haunted City and the Legacy of Nostalgia'"

Bianca Hennessy, PhD (Panel Member): "Decolonising Epistemology: Pacific Studies as a Va'a in the Va"

Rosanna Stevens, PhD (Panel Member): "Ethical Approaches to Representing Indigeneity"

Nun Sol Jang, PhD (Panel Member): "Migrant Wives in Korea"

Joanne Ryan, PhD (Panel Member): "Mapping Modernity: Cultural Memory and the Mythology of Istanbul in Poetry of the Turkish Republic"

Oliver Friedman, PhB Advanced Study course (Supervisor): "New Age Practices, Indigeneity, and Cultural Appropriation"

Alek Sigley, PhB Advanced Study course (Supervisor):"Gender in North Korean Film"

Past student projects

Annie McCarthey, PhD thesis (Panel Member): "Under Development: Stories of Children and NGOs in Delhi, India"

Melissa Jogie, PhD thesis (Panel Member): "The Great Tradition of Texts: How To Break the Mould? A Study of English Education in Australia and England"

Isabelle Wentworth, Honours (Supervisor): "Camus and Asperger's Syndrome"

Edward Blaxell, Honours (Supervisor): "Voyeurism, Intrusion and Aggression: The Courtship Narratives of Modern Masala"

Radium Mardia, Honours (Supervisor): "Freedom from Disgrace: A Reconstruction of Choice and Representation in J.M. Coetzee's Novel"

Jennifer Eadie, Honours (Supervisor): "The Least Body of the Condemned Man: Discipline and Punishment in J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace"

Anna Torrington, Directed Reading (Supervisor): "Lesbian Studies in Taiwan"

Vincent Chiang, PhB Advanced Studies Course (Supervisor): "Asian Australian and Asian American Literature"

Nicholas Fenech, Summer Scholar (Co-Supervisor): "Travel, Ethics and Memory in the Work of W.G. Sebald"


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Updated:  30 October 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers