Baidik Bhattacharya

Associate Professor

Baidik Bhattacharya trained in English literary studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (MA and MPhil) and Oxford University (DPhil). He taught in the English departments of Newcastle University (2006-10) and Delhi University (2010-2018) prior to joining CSDS.

Bhattacharya works at the crossroads of literary studies, social sciences, and philosophy. His first book, Postcolonial Writing in the Era of World Literature: Texts, Territories, Globalizations (Routledge, 2018), explores the debates surrounding two dynamic fields-postcolonial studies and world literature. Contrary to many dominant narratives in critical theory, the book asserts that as an analytical framework the idea of world literature is dead: the nineteenth-century ideal of world literature had always and already been embedded in colonial histories; and, in our contemporary times, the promise of that ideal has been exhausted by postcolonial Anglophone literature. Through fresh and incisive readings of the postcolonial canon and some of its most prominent authors like Rudyard Kipling, V. S. Naipaul, J. M. Coetzee, and Salman Rushdie, the volume discusses how these Anglophone writings have used the banal and ordinary ideal of world literature to fashion out their own trajectories. 

Currently Bhattacharya is working on two projects. First, an interdisciplinary inquiry into the origins and institutionalization of the modern idea of “literature” since the eighteenth century, and a detailed exploration of the histories of imperialism which shaped the contours of the new idea. Two articles from this project have been published so far: “On Comparatism in the Colony: Archives, Methods, and the Project of Weltliteratur,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Spring, 2016); “Reading Rancière: Literature at the Limit of World Literature,” New Literary History, Vol. 48, No. 3 (Summer, 2017).

The second project is an exploration of a paradigm of imperial politics-developed through the nineteenth-century debates on crime and related disciplines (e.g. criminology, criminal anthropology, eugenics, race-theory, and penology) and deployed as part of colonial governance. Preliminary findings from this project has been published as an article: “Somapolitics: A Biohermeneutic Paradigm in the Era of Empire,” boundary 2, Vol. 45, No. 4 (2018).

Bhattacharya is the co-editor of two volumes: Baidik Bhattacharya and Sambudha Sen (eds.) Novel Formations: The Indian Beginnings of a European Genre (Permanent Black, 2018); Baidik Bhattacharya and Neelam Srivastava (eds.) The Postcolonial Gramsci (Routledge, 2012).

His other works have appeared in Novel: A Forum on Fiction, Interventions, Postcolonial Studies among other places.

Bhattacharya has held visiting scholarships at the University of Virginia and the University of Western Cape. He will be part of the teaching faculty of Harvard University’s Institute for World Literature in 2020.

He serves on the editorial board of the journal Postcolonial Studies.

Email: baidik(at)csds.in

Publications (Click to Read)

On Comparatism in the Colony: Archives, Methods, and the Project of Weltliteratur

Somapolitics: A Biohermeneutic Paradigm in the Era of Empire

Reading Rancière: Literature at the Limit of World Literature