Sarah Parker Remond Centre


Dr Pragya Dhital

Lecturer in Race, Ethnicity & Postcolonial Studies

Sarah Parker Remond Centre, Institute of Advanced Studies

April 2023 - December 2023

Pragya Dhital teaches on and co-convenes the Race in Theory MA course at the Sarah Parker Remond Centre. She is also a Lecturer in Collections, Archives and the Study of the Book in the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

She completed her PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 2016, where she also taught across several departments for a number of years.  Her PhD research forms the basis of her first monograph, Paper Chains, which deals with the modern Indian state’s attempts to control communication during ‘special’ periods such as wartime, emergencies and elections.

Her second book project, Inflammable Material, concerns an archive of seditious literature collected by the Government of India between 1907-1947, and now held by the British Library and National Archives of India. She came across this collection when working as a Hindi and Urdu cataloger in the British Library in 2016-17. Her subsequent research on this collection was funded by a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (2018-22). Intended for a mass audience during a period of low literacy rates, much of this literature was meant to be seen, heard and performed, and her work focuses on the visual, material and performative aspects of these texts. She also places this literature in wider contexts to arrive at fresh understandings of familiar material. For example, by considering the work of anti-colonial Indian writers in light of both the Nahda, or Arab renaissance, and European modernism.

A transnational perspective informs her most recent research in the UK National Archives, where she worked as Records Specialist for Empire and Commonwealth in 2023. This includes projects on surveillance of the British Black Power publications of the 1960s-1970s and war diaries of Special Operations Executive campaigns in Southeast Asia during WW2.

Pragya also does a lot of public engagement work and has organised numerous events and conferences at UCL. In summer 2022 she curated an exhibition of DIY and Decolonial Print at SOAS art gallery and is now working on an exhibition-related publication.