skip to primary navigationskip to content

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: Subjectivity and Decolonisation in African and South Asian Film and Literature



After a BA (Hons) in English at The University of York (2012) and an MSt in English at The University of Oxford (2013), I wrote freelance on contemporary art, film and books for publications including The Economist, The Times Literary Supplement, The Independent and ArtReview. In 2017, I began my PhD at Cambridge with a joint AHRC-Isaac Newton Trust award.

My thesis considers early postcolonial (1950s-1970s) African and South Asian realist novels and films for their treatments of subjectivity in relation to decolonisation. The self remains a central concern for postcolonial studies: space and place were the objects of colonial domination, but the subjugation of the colonised, via the refusal and manipulation of their subjecthood, accompanied this. I seek to investigate the relationship between subjectivity and the material everyday of the (neo-/)postcolony in this period's works. I consider, amongst others, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Ayi Kwei Armah, Satyajit Ray, Buchi Emecheta, Kamala Markandaya and Ousmane Sembène.

My research interests also include Third Cinema theory and practice; Frantz Fanon; tricontinentalism and its legacies; materialist feminism; and literary and cinematic social realisms.

Key Publications


"The Empowered Liminality of Medea: Pasolini and Von Trier's Unrepresentable Woman", Another Gaze (Issue 2), 2018.

"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's and Edward Said's Memoirs", Life Writing 12.2, 2014.


Book Reviews

"Contemporary Diasporic South Asian Women's Fiction' by Ruvani Ranasinha. Women: A Cultural Review Vol. 29, Issue 3, 2018. 

"'Algiers: Third World Capital' by Elaine Mokhtefi." The Times Literary Supplement (Dec 2018).

"'Frantz Fanon: Philosopher of the Barricades' by Peter Hudis." The Times Literary Supplement (Feb 2016).

"'Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema' by Sophie Mayer." The Times Literary Supplement (May 2016).