Sukanya Banerjee works on the literature and culture of Victorian Britain and its empire. More broadly, she is interested in postcolonial studies, ecology, studies of transnationalism and diaspora, political theory, and South Asia. Her book, Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire (Duke University Press, 2010), which was awarded the NVSA Sonya Rudikoff Prize for best first book in Victorian studies, locates the liberal discourse of citizenship outside the conventional frame of the nation-state by studying how colonial subjects formulated claims to citizenship in late nineteenth-early twentieth- century Britain and its empire. Emphasizing the narrativity of citizenship, the book examines the literary and cultural registers that enabled such formulations. Banerjee is a coeditor of New Routes in Diaspora Studies (Indiana University Press, 2012). She is currently working on a book tentatively titled “Loyalty and the Making of the Modern: A Transimperial System” and is also looking toward a future book-length project on Victorian ecocolonialisms. Banerjee joined the English department at Berkeley in 2020 after teaching for nearly two decades at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she was a recipient of the UW-Milwaukee Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award (2016).
I am currently work on a book provisionally titled, “Loyalty and the Making of the Modern: A Transimperial System.” By drawing attention to the under examined category of loyalty, this book argues for the centrality of loyalty to figurations of modernity. Rather than focus on political loyalty alone--a context in which loyalty gets most prominence--I examine interlocking formulations of loyalty across three evolving sites of modernity in nineteenth-early twentieth century Britain and its empire: that of the state, the family, and the economy. In querying how and why ideas of loyalty were idealized at a moment marked both by massive industrialism and high imperialism, I study literary genres and modes that stabilize the seemingly counterintuitive relation between loyalty and modernity. In so doing, I also identify the “transimperial” as a heuristic for studying the expansive yet connected multilingual literary systems of empire.