I was appointed to Birkbeck in 2010, having worked in the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham for the previous three years.
My research has focused primarily on contemporary literary and cultural constructions of ‘America’, and has been particularly concerned with the ways in which the national narrative is articulated in relation to race and religion, as well as its intersections with postcoloniality and globalization. I am also interested in postcolonial and diasporic literatures more broadly, as well as literary and cultural responses to ‘the contemporary’, particularly perceived moments of rupture and crisis.
My first book, Rewriting Exodus: American Futures from Du Bois to Obama (Pluto, 2011), explores the genealogy of the Exodus narrative in African American thought in the twentieth century, against the contemporary backdrop of the election of Barack Obama, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the post-9/11 US landscape.
My current book project, After Katrina: Race, Transnationalism, and the End of the American Century, will attempt to situate post-Katrina New Orleans in the context of US nationalism and globalization, and current debates about US decline. It will examine the conflict between problematic pre-Katrina constructions of New Orleans as past in relation to the United States, and equally troubling post-Katrina projections of the city as neoliberal laboratory for national and transnational futures. Through an exploration of cultural representations of the city - literary, cinematic, visual, musical, political, journalistic etc. - with particular reference to movements for racial and environmental justice, the book will explore the commentary the post-storm city offers on contemporary America.