Sritama Chatterjee

  • Graduate Student, PhD Literature

Sritama Chatterjee is a literary and cultural theorist of the Indian Ocean World. I work at the intersections of Postcolonial Studies, Indian Ocean Studies, Environmental Humanities, and Feminist Studies. My dissertation project titled, “Ordinary Environments and Aesthetics in Contemporary Indian Ocean Archipelagic Writing” has been awarded an Andrew Mellon Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from the graduate school for outstanding research and scholarly excellence.

Focusing on the literary and cultural forms of three Indian Ocean archipelagos, Sundarbans (tidal waters), Andamans (Multispecies Waters), and Chagos (Displaced waters), I ask: Can ordinariness in aesthetics inspire radical politics and change?  By historizing and centering ordinariness, I revise how literary histories of environmentalism have been told in the Indian Ocean region. Each chapter in my dissertation illustrates a particular mode of ordinary aesthetics: border ecologies in the Sundarbans, carceral imaginaries in the Andamans, and migration poetics in the Chagos. I argue that the spatial lens of the archipelagic challenges the supposed coherence of the postcolonial nation-state, rewriting postcoloniality in the tides, prisons, and plantations.

My work on the Indian Ocean archipelagos also takes the shape of a collaborative public-facing, community project Delta Lives, which allows communities in Sundarbans to tell their stories. The project involves the co-creation of a web space (in progress) that can run on low bandwidth internet so that community members can use their audio and visual storytelling skills in the digital realm to contest the mainstream narratives that circulate in the media about Sundarbans. Currently, I serve as the Research advisor of the project and also a Spoken English instructor, with specific attention to narrative storytelling and exhibit curation.

As part of my commitment to rethinking environmental humanities pedagogy, I have edited a cluster on “Water Pedagogies: From the Academy and Beyond” published by NICHE Canada which brings together a set of eleven articles from scholars and activists reflecting on water pedagogy.  Bringing together my strengths in feminist pedagogy and instructional development, I have worked as a curriculum developer for a course on Transgender Studies, a co-curator for a reproductive justice exhibit, and a faculty research development intern. My fundamental goal in these multiple roles has been to mobilize the power of narratives to show how the humanities are transformative and can enact change.

From September 2019 to April 2020, I was a monthly columnist for the GradHacker blog of Inside Higher ed. My writings on environmental movements, water, and pedagogy have been published in Edge Effects, Arcadiana, MLA Graduate Blog, and Environmental History Now. If you want to read more about my infrequent musings about graduate school or my hot takes on Digital Humanities, please head over to my Medium Blog or subscribe to my Substack Newsletter. If not writing or teaching, I spend my time swimming in ponds, rivers, or lakes.