Academic Conveners

Prof. Simon Gikandi is Robert Schirmer Professor of English at Princeton University, where he is affiliated with the Departments of Comparative Literature and African American Studies and the Program in African Studies.  Gikandi’s major fields of research and teaching are Anglophone literatures and cultures of Africa, India, the Caribbean, and postcolonial Britain; literary and critical theory; the black Atlantic and the African diaspora; and the English novel. His current research projects are on slavery and modernity, African philology, and cultures of the novel.  He is the author of many books and articles, including Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature; Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism; and Ngugi wa Thiong’o, a Choice Outstanding Academic Publication for 2004. He is the co-author of The Columbia Guide to East African Literature in English since 1945, the editor of the Routledge Encyclopedia of African Literature, and the coeditor of The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature.

Prof. Bishnu Mohapatra  is currently Senior Academic Fellow at the Forum on Contemporary Theory.  He is a political theorist with a strong interest in history, philosophy, and literature.  He taught over two decades at the University of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University and Azim Premji University, Bangalore. Until recently he was the Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee Chair Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.He has held visiting positions at Kyoto University, Japan and National University of Singapore, Singapore. Bishnu has published in the areas of democracy, social capital, minority rights, identity politics and dissenting imagination. Currently, he is researching ‘cities’ by looking at their complicated history and contemporary imaginings. From 2002-2010 he headed the governance portfolio of Ford Foundation’s South Asia office in Delhi.Bishnu is a well-known Indian poet who writes in Odia. He has published four volumes of poetry and two volumes of translation of Neruda’s poetry into Odia.  A Fragile World, a collection of his poems has been translated into English.  He is working on completing a volume that deals with his poetic meditation on ‘rain.’