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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: Locating the Self, Decolonising the Nation: Film and Literature in Africa and South

Asia After Independence


After a BA (Hons) in English from The University of York (2012, Starred First) and an MSt in English from The University of Oxford (2013, Distinction), I worked in London as a freelance arts journalist for publications including The Economist, The Times Literary Supplement, ArtReview, and The Independent. I was awarded an AHRC-Isaac Newton Trust Studentship to pursue my doctoral studies at King's College, Cambridge.

My thesis investigates 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 how these writers and filmmakers interrogate the structural afterlives of colonialism through a social realism that depicts its subjective and intersubjective effects within everyday life. I consider, amongst others, works by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Ayi Kwei Armah, Buchi Emecheta, Kamala Markandaya, Ritwik Ghatak and Ousmane Sembène.

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.


Book Reviews

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