Berkeley English Faculty

Poulomi Saha

Poulomi Saha

Assistant Professor

Wheeler Hall, room 455
R 2-3 & by appointment

Professional Statement

My research and teaching agenda spans eastward and forward from the late 19th century decline of British colonial rule in the Indian Ocean through to the Pacific and the rise of American global power and domestic race relations in the 20th century. Engaging postcolonial studies, ethnic American literature, and gender and sexuality theory, I hope to map an expansive view of empire and of what constitutes Anglophone literature routed not primarily through Great Britain and Western Europe but rather through circuits of affiliation and encounter between Asia and the Americas.

My first book, An Empire of Touch: Women's Political Labor & The Fabrication of East Bengal (Columbia University Press, 2019) was awarded the Helen Tartar First Book Subvention Prize by the American Comparative Literature Association (2017) . It turns attention to East Bengal, the historical antecedent of Bangladesh, today an international exemplar of development driven by gender-targeted foreign aid. An Empire of Touch recounts a new narrative of female political labor under empire, spanning from anticolonial nationalism to neoliberal globalization, through text and textile. It follows the historical traces of how women have claimed their labor, making what has been customarily seen as “merely” intimate and domestic into appreciable political acts.

I am currently at work on two new projects: one, which looks at conspiracy as a legal, philosophical, and political concept to understand the rise of the surveillance of racial and sexual subjects in WWI America; and the second, which is interested in "Hindu" cults in the popular American imagination. 

I earned my BA in International Relations and English from Mount Holyoke College and my PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania. 


An Empire of Touch
An Empire of Touch

In today’s world of unequal globalization, Bangladesh has drawn international attention for the spate of factory disasters that have taken the lives of numerous garment workers, mostly young women. The contemporary garment industry—and the labor orga....(read more)

Selected Publications and Papers Delivered
“Women on Fire: Sati, Consent, and the Revolutionary Subject.” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. (24.3: Summer 2013) 63-100. 

“Unwatched/Unmanned: Drone Strikes & The Aesthetics of the Unseen.” in Unwatchable. Ed. Nicholas Baer, Maggie Hennefeld, Laura Horak, and Gunnar Iversen. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 2018)

“Terrorist Still-Life.” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. (21.6: 2019)

“Conspiracy Rises Again: Racial Sympathy and Radical Solidarity Across Empires During WWI.” qui parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences. (December 2019)


Recent English Courses Taught
spring, 2020


Freshman Seminar: Cults in Popular Culture


Children's Literature: The Bad Seed: Monstrosity, Horror, and the Inhuman in Children’s Literature


Literature of American Cultures: American Hustle

135AC/101 -- discussion section

No instructor assigned yet.

135AC/102 -- discussion section

No instructor assigned yet.

fall, 2019


Literature of American Cultures: Growing Up Funny


Special Topics: Getting Global: Literature & Film of an Expanding & Unequal World

summer, 2019


Literature of American Cultures: American Hustle—Immigration, Ethnicity, and the American Dream

spring, 2018


Studies in World Literature in English: Orphans, Feral Children, Runaways—Strange Childhood in World Literature


Literature and Philosophy: Surveillance, Paranoia, and State Power