Toral Jatin Gajarawala is a scholar of comparative literature at NYU. Her teaching and research examine the ways in which culture is shaped by the lived realities of postcoloniality. Her book Untouchable Fictions: Literary Realism and the Crisis of Caste, sketches an anti-genealogy for Dalit literature, as against normative Indian realisms, modernisms, and regionalisms. More recently, she has written about the phenomenon of 'passing' in precarious times, the Youtube channel Dalit Camera, postcolonial libraries, and the graphic novel Munnu: A Boy from Kashmir. Other interests include caste/race, comparative modernisms, and heteroglossia and translation.
Ajnabi: an Existential Reckoning in South Asia
This project draws on the artistic trope of the stranger (“ajnabi”) to consider the afterlife of postcolonial existentialisms in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. How did the work of artists, playwrights, and poets conceptualize another discourse of freedom? Arguing that existentialism offered a realm of liberation philosophically and aesthetically distinct from that augured by a new postcolonial citizenship, this project considers the range of texts, artworks and ephemera that insisted that the metaphysics of the postcolonial self were still to be negotiated, even after Independence.