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Sara Kazmi

Assistant Professor of English


Sara Kazmi

I am a scholar, translator, and performer whose work takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of anticolonial, left, and oppositional literary production in the Global South. I focus on the Panjab region, and more broadly, on South Asia and South Asian diasporas, combining methods in literary studies, performance, and history to examine how marginal and vernacular writing engages planetary debates around decolonisation, Marxism, and revolutionary transformation. 

I am currently working on a book titled Anti-Border Poetics: Literary Dissent and Popular Tradition in India/Pakistan. My monograph will argue that left-wing and oppositional Panjabi writers from 1960s and 1970s India and Pakistan critiqued and resisted the internal exclusions and external borders that govern South Asia through a reflexive engagement with oral and performative regional tradition. Drawing on close reading, archival research, interviews, ethnography, and translation, the book will trace genealogical links across historical periods, religious communities, and national contexts, between texts both oral and textual, to reveal how the two Panjabs, Indian and Pakistani, resist the bordering logics of post-colonial nation-states. 

I am also part of the Revolutionary Papers collective, which is a transnational research collaboration exploring 20th century periodicals of left, anti-imperial, and anticolonial critical production. As part of my work with Revolutionary Papers, I am currently co-editing (with Chana Morgenstern) a series of ‘digital teaching tools’ as part of the Special Issue on Revolutionary Papers for the Radical History Review (Forthcoming, 2024). In addition to my work as a scholar, I am a performer and student of Indian classical music. I blend ragas with folk tunes in my renditions of protest music from South Asia, some of which are archived at mein.beqaid (I, Uncaged). I also sit on the editorial committee for Jamhoor, a critical left media organization that amplifies marginalized and progressive voices from South Asia.

My second project, tentatively titled Multilingual Print and Literary Resistance in the South Asian Diaspora  follows South Asian populations and their literary formations abroad. It will examine the literary and cultural production of  South Asian diaspora communities across a range of contexts including Britain, Canada, Singapore and Kenya. In particular, the project will focus on the role of popular print – political pamphlets, newspapers, and magazines - in articulating and organising struggles against the exclusions of race, empire, and capital.  

Prior to joining the University of Pennsylvania, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at LUMS University in Lahore, Pakistan. I received a PhD in Criticism and Culture at the Department of English, University of Cambridge, an MA in South Asian History at SOAS, London, and a B.A. (Hons) in Humanities from LUMS University. My academic work has appeared in the South Asia Multi-disciplinary Journal (SAMAJ), the Journal of Socialist Studies, and South Asia Chronicle. My literary criticism and long-form writing has been published by HeraldDawn Books and AuthorsThe News on Sunday, and Poetry Birmingham, and translations have appeared in Jalada Africa and Pancham. 

Courses Taught

spring 2024

ENGL 1190.401 Introduction to Postcolonial Literature canceled