As an interdisciplinary scholar of Asian American studies, postcolonial studies and feminist and queer of color studies, I work across multiple forms of public culture to examine how South Asian American identities and communities are formed, embodied, and lived. Most recently, my work has focused on the dynamic relationship between visual representations of race, and the formation of diasporic identity and community. I ask the following questions: in what forms and styles do racialized immigrants make themselves visible in visual culture? When and how do we claim to see ourselves in the image? Why do visual representations of diaspora so often leave us wanting for more?
As a scholar, I work across multiple archives, including U.S. settler colonial, British imperial, Indian national and private collections of photography. As a trained curator and ethnographer, I work in museums and gallery spaces across North America and in South Asia to understand how viewers interact with representations of diasporic visual culture, and how their lived experiences in these spaces produce new narratives of identity and community. As a writer, I bring myself close to the objects, people, and spaces that I write about, and I consider my work to emerge out of this collective engagement.
I’ve recently published essays on South Asian American visual culture and representation, and on the centrality of diaspora to readings of contemporary Asian American literature. My work on the artists Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Gauri Gill, Seher Shah, and Rina Banerjee has been published in journals including Social Text, American Quarterly, Journal of Asian American Studies, and Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures in the Americas. I’ve also written on topics as varied as the Miss India USA beauty pageant; Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel and Mira Nair’s film The Namesake; Pravasi Bharatiya Divas; and the relation between dress and racial identity in South Asian diasporas.