‘The Bloomsbury Indians’: Writing Across the Tracks in Colonial London
This is a South Asia Centre public lecture which is part of the Colony as Empire: Histories from Whitehall series.
Thursday 26 January 2017
Speaker: Susheila Nasta
‘Bloomsbury’ is often represented as a culturally dynamic space, the familiar crucible oftwentieth century Euro-American modernism where bohemians lived in squares but loved in triangles. Many of those very streets, squares and lodging houses which criss-cross its parameters were inhabited by several hundreds of Indian students, intellectuals and writers who had taken up residence at the heart of Empire through the 19th-20th centuries.
Drawing on recent research, Nasta’s lecture will reveal how the Indian presence in Bloomsbury began to shape a transnational global modernity, simultaneously shifting British perspectives and angles of vision. In mapping such material traces, one simultaneously encounters the fascinating characters who once walked its streets: novelist, public intellectual and BBC broadcaster, Mulk Raj Anand; poet, editor and publisher, Tambimuttu; Labour councillor and Founding Editor of the Penguin Pelican series, Krishna Menon; and gay Irish-Indian novelist, drama critic and journalist, Aubrey Menen. Although writing Britain from a range of different perspectives, this distinctive group were key to exposing the hidden contours of a differently inflected modernity situated both within and outside the European body.
Susheila Nasta is professor in Modern Literature at the Open University. She has earlier held teaching and research positions at Queen Mary University of London, Cambridge and the University of Portsmouth. Nasta have always been interested in issues of cultural difference and diversity having grown up in India, Britain, Holland and Germany. In 1984, she founded the famous literary magazine, Wasafiri: The Magazine of International Contemporary Writing, now housed at the Open University and co-published with Routledge.
This event is free and open to all.
Please email if you have any queries.