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Sarah Jilani

Sarah Jilani

Department: English

Supervisor: Dr. Priyamvada Gopal

College: King's College

AHRC subject area: Comparative Literature, Post-Colonial Studies

Title of thesis: The Literature and Film of Decolonisation in Africa and South Asia


After receiving a BA (Hons) in English and Related Literature from The University of York in 2012 (Starred First), I completed an MSt in English (1900 - Present) at The University of Oxford in 2013 (Distinction). I have since worked in London as a freelance culture journalist, writing on art, film and literature for publications including The Economist, The Times Literary Supplement, ArtReview, and The Independent. I chaired a panel at the 2015 African Literature Association Convention (University of Beyreuth, Germany), and presented papers at the 2015 Postcolonial Studies Association Conference (University of Leicester, UK) and the University of Sheffield’s 2016 symposium on “The Battle of Algiers at 50”.

Following independence and into the years of decolonisation, writers and filmmakers in Africa and India used realism to question what a decolonised nation, and a decolonised self, might be. Building on my MSt dissertation, my project will consider the literature and film produced in these regions during the post-independence fifties and sixties, investigating the distinctions they reveal between independence and freedom; nationalism and national liberation; and mere identity politics and true psychic decolonisation. My research both intends to advance the current reconsideration of realism in the field, and to reaffirm the emancipatory potential of the independent nation-state as a major axis of anti-colonial thought.

Key Publications

"Violence and Mimicry: "The Battle of Algiers" at 50", The Oxonian Review 30.2, 2016.

"'Black' Spaces: Othello and the Cinematic Language of Othering", Literature/Film Quarterly 43.2, 2015.

"Race, (In)Visibility and Subjecthood in Ralph Ellison's 'Invisible Man' and Toni Morrison's 'The Bluest Eye'", Postgraduate English 29, 2014.

"Writing Exile: Displacement and Arrival in Eva Hoffman and Edward Said", Life Writing 12.2, 2014.