I am a scholar of post-colonial studies with a joint appointment in the English Department and the Department of International Studies. I also have adjunct status in the departments of American Studies, Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies, and History, and am an affiliated faculty member in the Gender Studies Department, the Dhar India Studies Program, and the Islamic Studies Program. My wide-ranging research interests have been informed by three sometimes overlapping interests: war, agency, and neo-liberalism. My publications have “wrestled”—to use Stuart Hall’s metaphor for theoretical engagement—with continuities between earlier forms of imperialism and globalization, agency and resistance, and the dialectic between relations of production and cultural representations.
My first book, Organizing Empire: Individualism, Collective Agency, and India examined discourses of individualism in accounts of nationalism, the Indian and Irish women’s movements, and the Raj. Since then my research interests have cohered around corporations, globalization, and war. Cultural Critique and the Global Corporation, an anthology I co-edited with my long-time collaborator, Laura E. Lyons, provides case studies of corporations that interpret their self-representations in relation to their activities in China, South Africa, India, Iraq, and the United States. A special issue of Biography on Corporate Personhood, which we also co-edited, offers analyses of different iterations of the corporate form in Canada, China, India, Singapore, and the United States.
My most recent book analyzes films, memoirs, and novels that have circulated in the United States about its clandestine and overt military operations in Afghanistan from 1979 to the present. Intervention Narratives: Afghanistan, the United States, and the Global War on Terror explores the significance of the historical erasures and the production of sentiment that allows these narratives to function as propaganda. The contradictions in these narratives demonstrate that contemporary imperialism does not function on an ideologically unified cultural terrain with its own consistent logic, but rather is manifested in a whole range of political sensibilities and projects.
While completing Intervention Narratives, I explored different dimensions of war in several essays that focus on Iraq. “Canine Rescue, Civilian Casualties, and the Long Gulf War” considers the erasure of Iraqi civilians in sentimental accounts of saving puppies. A co-authored essay with Laura E. Lyons, “America’s Educating Mission: Soft Power & the Case of Iraq” examines another aspect of the Gulf War: the use of reconstruction funds to finance study abroad programs in the US which recruit Iraqi students.
The leitmotifs of neo-liberalism, agency, and war that animate my research very much derive from my training in post-colonial studies, which has always involved a commitment to analyzing colonial structures of repression and inequality, along with a desire to publicize the efforts of people struggling for basic material security and a dignified life.
Regions of Interest
- South Asia (Afghanistan, India)
- United States
- Colonialism and Imperialism
Books and Edited Special Issues of Journals
- Intervention Narratives: Afghanistan, the United States, and the Global War on Terror. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2020). Series “War Culture.”
- Biography, Special Issue on Corporate Personhood, co-edited with Laura E. Lyons, vol. 37, no.1 (Winter 2014).
- Cultural Critique and the Global Corporation, co-edited with Laura E. Lyons. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010). Series “Tracking Globalization: Commodities in Motion” (series editor, Robert Foster).
- Organizing Empire: Individualism, Collective Agency, and India. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003). Indian Edition. (Delhi: Zubaan Press, 2006).
- Review of Ben Brody’s Attention Servicemember in Od Review. (March 2020). Check out Mr. Brody’s haunting photographs at: https://theodreview.com/2020/03/19/attention-servicemember-ben-brody-reviewed-by-purnima-bose/.
- “Kamala Harris’s The Truths We Hold,” Presidential Campaign Autobiographies 2020. American Literary History Online Only Forum. (March 2020): e25-e32. Posted at: https://doi.org/10.1093/alh/ajaa005.
- “Canine Rescue, Civilian Casualties, and the Long Gulf War.” In/Visible War: The Culture of War in Twenty-First-Century America, eds. Jon Simons and John Lucaites (Rutgers University Press, 2017), 188-207.
- “America’s Educating Mission: Soft Power & the Case of Iraq,” With Laura E. Lyons, Against the Current 176 (May/June 2015): 7-9.
- "Transnational Resistance and Fictive Truths: Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, Agnes Smedley, and the Indian Nationalist Movement." The Journal of South Asian History and Culture" Vol. 2, No. 4 (October 2011). pp. 502-521.
- "From Agitation to Institutionalization: The Student Anti-Sweatshop Movement in the New Millennium." Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies. Vol. 15 Issue 1, Winter 2008. pp. 213-240. Posted at: https://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1371&context=ijgls.