Dr. Sreya Datta

Jean Humphreys Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Sreya Datta

School/Department: Arts, School of (English)



I recently joined the University of Leicester as the Jean Humphreys Postdoctoral Fellow in September 2023. I was awarded my PhD from the University of Leeds in June 2022 and, just prior to joining Leicester, was the Alan Price Teaching Fellow at the University of Liverpool.

My research specialisms are in postcolonial and African literary studies, with additional interests in Indian Ocean studies. My doctoral project, which was recognised for Research Excellence, explored critical iterations of community in the Nigerian novel from the 1950s to the present day. I have broader interests in decolonial studies, critical race theory, and black feminist approaches to literature.

As an Early Career Researcher, I am passionate about building academic networks for, and with, other ECRs. I am currently the ECR Representative for the School of Arts and Media & Communication. I am also a steering coordinator of the ‘African Literatures’ Collaborative Research Group under the AEGIS network for African Studies in Europe, which builds transnational collaborations between African literary studies scholars. I am on the organizing committee of Literary Leicester 2024 and am interested in the intersections between literature/literary production and public engagement.


My doctoral project advanced a new way of theorising community in the African literary-critical context, focusing on Nigerian literature, and examining the works of four writers in depth: Amos Tutuola, Chinua Achebe, Chigozie Obioma, and Sefi Atta. Combining detailed close reading with insights from postcolonial studies and cultural studies, African philosophical writings on community, and African feminist approaches, the project argues that literary processes of community-making offer modes of ‘repair’ and reconciliation that mediate the ruptures of colonial and capitalist modernity. While modernity in African literature has often been conceptualised in terms of an interminable ‘break’ and or ‘rupture’, I construct a more dialectical version of community beyond entrapments in nostalgic ideation. Taking my cue from Nigerian philosopher Emmanuel Eze, I argue that modernity in African letters is not simply a melancholic formation but a critical inheritance that reworks linear understandings of the temporalities of modernity. I am currently developing a monograph, tentatively titled Writing Community, Imagining Repair: Critical Inheritances in the Nigerian Novel.

In my postdoctoral work, I am keen to expand the scope of the project to explore the intersections between spatial and temporal designations of community in the Global South. Indian Ocean literatures and Afro-Asian exchanges are of particular interest, especially how contemporary literary production from the area both upholds as well as historically critiques the idea of the ‘commons’ in an era of intensifying neoliberal capitalism. In my article on Abdulrazak Gurnah’s works, I explored Enrique Dussel’s idea of transmodernity in conjunction with insights from Indian Ocean studies to argue for a Swahili littoral ethics of community in Gurnah’s novels. Having started learning Swahili in the past, I am now continuing the practice and am currently completing a language course remotely from The Africa Institute in Sharjah.

Recently, I have co-convened a panel on "African Literatures: Collective Futures/Utopias" for the European Conference on African Studies (ECAS) 2023, and am interested in exploring how alternative vocabularies for conceptualizing African futures and futurities, both "real" and "speculative", can be investigated. Concept-terms such as "utopia", "repair", and "reconciliation" are of particular interest to my broader research ambitions. 


Thesis (monograph in preparation)

The Critical Inheritance of Community in Nigerian Literature: Tutuola, Achebe, Obioma, Atta. (June 2022, University of Leeds).

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

Datta, Sreya Mallika (2023). "Narrativising Community, Surviving Contagion: Orality in Véronique Tadjo’s In the Company of Men." Sanglap: Journal of Literary and Cultural Inquiry, Vol. 9, no. 2 [Issue on 'Literary Communities'], 1–13.

Datta, Sreya Mallika and Anil Pradhan (2022). “Women in Love: Zami and the Politics of the Black Lesbian Body in the Diaspora.”HyperCultura, vol. 10, 1-13,

Datta, Sreya Mallika (2019). “Swahili Transmodernity and the Indian Ocean: Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Ethic of Community in By the Sea, Desertion, and Gravel Heart.” Postcolonial Text, 14: 3 & 4,


Datta, Sreya Mallika (2020). "Silence is the Tool of the Unconcerned: An Interview With Chigozie Obioma." Wasafiri, 35:1, 57-62, DOI: 10.1080/02690055.2020.1683303.

Mohan, Anupama, and Sreya Mallika Datta (2019). ““Arriving at writing”: A Conversation with Abdulrazak Gurnah.” Postcolonial Text, 14:3 & 4

Book Chapters

Mukherjee, Utsa and Sreya Mallika Datta (2017). 'Travelling travel: an Indian king's tryst with Europe.” Travel Writing, Travel in Writing: An anthology of Critical Essays. (eds.) Ahmed, T. and Chatterjee Sriwastav, S. Kolkata: Viswakos Parisad, pp. 36 - 44.

Datta, Sreya Mallika and Utsa Mukherjee (2015). “‘Pukka Sahibs’ and ‘Yellow Faces’: Reassessing Ambivalence in Orwell’s Burma.” George Orwell Now!. ed. Keeble, Richard. New York: Peter Lang, 161-174.


My teaching specialisms and activities are connected to my research interests. I am currently, or will soon commence, teaching on the following modules:

  • EN2060  Critical Perspectives 1 (UG)
  • EN7032  Modern and Contemporary Literature (PG)


I currently hold the following roles:

  • ECR Representative, School of English and School of Media and Communication
  • Member of organizing committee, Literary Leicester
  • Steering coordinator, 'African Literatures' Collaborative Research Group, AEGIS Network



Selected grants and awards:

  • Grant of €2000 awarded by the AEGIS network of African Studies in Europe to Collaborative Research Group (CRG) on ‘African Literatures’ for a workshop on African ecologies and place (2023).
  • Research Excellence award for doctoral thesis (2022).
  • Nominated for the Horst Frenz Prize (ACLA Annual Meeting) for best paper by a graduate student (2021).
  • Joint runners-up in Postcolonial Studies Association/Journal of Postcolonial Writing Postgraduate Essay Competition (2020).


Recent Conference Presentations:

  • Datta, Sreya Mallika. "Realism, Community and Decolonial Temporality in Véronique Tadjo’s In the Company of Men." African Realisms and Related Forms, University of Southampton. 28-29th Oct, 2023.
  • Datta, Sreya Mallika (panel co-organizer). "African literatures: collective futures/utopias" [CRG panel]. European Conference on African Studies, University of Cologne. 31 May-3 June 2023.
  • Datta, Sreya Mallilka. “Thinking with Amos Tutuola's Ghosts.” Public talk for Romancing the Gothic. 8th April, 2023.
  •  Datta, Sreya Mallika. “Reading with Amos Tutuola: the ‘Crossroads-character’ and African Becomings.” 6th Es’kia Colloquium, WITS University. 15-16th September, 2022.
  •  Datta, Sreya Mallika. “Repurposing the Bildungsroman in ‘Third Generation’ Nigerian Writing: Towards Communitarian Futures?.” ACLA Annual Meeting. Virtual. 8-11th April, 2021.
  •  Datta, Sreya Mallika, and Arunima Bhattacharya (organizers). “Forging Solidarities: Community and       the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Sanglap Journal of Literary and Cultural Inquiry. Virtual. 18th July, 2020.


2015        B.A. English (Presidency University, Kolkata)

2017        M.A. English (Delhi University, New Delhi)

2022        PhD, Department of English (University of Leeds)

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