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Dr Maya Parmar

Maya Parmar photo

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined the Open University in September 2013, as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in English Literature. I work across two collaborative public engagement projects in the English department, At the Heart of the Nation: India in Britain, a follow on from Beyond the Frame: Indian-British Connections 1850-1950, and the AHRC-funded project Reading Communities: Connecting the Past and the Present. I completed my doctorate in 2013 at the University of Leeds, within the School of English. As well as my Ph.D, I studied a BA in English Studies and an MA in Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Studies with the University of Leeds. 

Research interests

My research specialisms include South Asian studies and postcolonial cultural studies. I am interested in the ways in which the prolific South Asian ‘double diaspora’, displaced twice from Gujarat to East Africa and later to Britain, represents cultural identity. Whilst analysing literary representations of community and selfhood, I am also interested in embodied forms of identity. Through interdisciplinary-led methodologies I have explored how loss and trauma are articulated via embodied practices. My research, therefore, reads non-conventional ‘texts’, such as culinary and dance practices. 
These interests are coupled with a burgeoning attentiveness to how South Asian cultural identities manifest themselves within evolving digital networks and upon new media. For the journal South Asian Popular Culture I have carried out research into how online social networking constitutes a form of archiving and digital memorialisation. 
As well as cultural identity, modernity, and memory work, within the South Asian diaspora, and on digital networks and new media, I have a further research interest in Indian Ocean studies. Specifically, I am interested in the mercantile and migratory narratives as manifested by, and within, the networked space of the Indian Ocean. I am also an active member of The Open University's Postcolonial Literatures Research Group.
For the 2012 joint Postcolonial Studies Association and Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies postgraduate conference I co-organised Re-evaluating the Postcolonial City. Having successfully co-proposed a special issue to publish select conference proceedings, I am now a guest editor for this issue with the journal Interventions.
I have presented at and participated in a variety of conferences and events. Most recently I presented at the AHRC’s Knowledge Exchange and Arts and Humanities Research Conference at the University of Southampton, as well as participated in a panel discussion for the Exodus symposium during the 2012 South Asian Literature Festival.
See Open Research Online for further details of my research publications.

Teaching interests

I am currently a Module Team member for A300 (20th century literature: texts and debates), as well as a lecturer  for AA100 (The arts past and present) day schools in Leeds.

Impact and engagement

I have a strong interest in public engagement and widening participation research activities. Extending from my doctorate, I spearheaded the community engagement project Expulsion: 40 Years On, which secured circa £19,000 of in-kind and monetary support from, amongst others, Arts Council England (Grant for Arts), University of Leeds (HEIF, Arts Engaged and Leeds for Life) and Leeds City Museum. Working collaboratively with external partners, schools and artists the project aimed to mark the 40th anniversary, in August 2012, of the expulsion of the South Asian population from Uganda. Expulsion: 40 Years On involved a community day event in Leeds City Museum and local primary school workshops. The project received broad media coverage, and led to my nominated as Postgraduate Researcher of the Year 2012/13 for the Faculty of Arts, University of Leeds.

External collaborations

A new phase of ‘Beyond the Frame’, entitled ‘At the heart of the Nation: India in Britain’, partners with the UK Indian High Commission, Nehru Centre, and University of Exeter to mark the 2017 70th anniversary of Indian independence. This extension to the current project will, from summer 2017 onwards, tour a photographic exhibition around three major cities in the UK, launch an accompanying digital component, as well as host a series of launches, talks and panel discussions. The project will document the long continuum of Indian-British history, showcasing striking visual photographs to broad, public audiences around the UK. 

Research Activity

Externally funded projects

Reading Communities: Connecting the Past and Present

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Other-collaborator01/Dec/201530/Nov/2016AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council)
‘Reading Communities: Connecting the Past and Present’ addresses the AHRC 10th-Anniversary Follow-On Scheme Highlight Notice, which invites proposals that will ‘enhance engagement with, and impact from, research funded by the AHRC during the first two years after its establishment in 2005’. This project is intended as a follow on from the ‘Reading Experience Database 1800–1945’ (2006–2009), which was funded by a £292,108 Resource Enhancement grant awarded by the AHRC in 2006. This one-year project builds on the success of the Reading Experience Database (RED) to create a series of city-focused reading outreach events. These will include lectures, oral history interviews and community workshops focused on crowdsourcing from participants' diaries or other documents. Activities will take place in Belfast, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Birmingham and London.


Book Review: 'New postcolonial British genres: shifting the boundaries' (2016-06-24)
Parmar, Maya
Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 52(6) (p 752)
Towards a spatial practice of the postcolonial city: introducing the cultural producer (2015)
Beswick, Katie; Parmar, Maya and Sil, Esha
Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 17(6) (pp. 789-801)
Memorialising 40 years since Idi Amin's expulsion: digital ‘memory mania’ to the ‘right to be forgotten’ (2014)
Parmar, Maya
South Asian Popular Culture, 12(1) (pp. 1-14)
Reading the double diaspora: representing Gujarati East African identity in Britain (2013-06)
Parmar, Maya
Atlantis, 35(1) (pp. 137-155)
Writing South-Asian Diasporic Identity Anew (2016)
Parmar, Maya
In: Tickell, Alex ed. South-Asian Fiction in English: Contemporary Transformations (pp. 235-252)
ISBN : 978-1-137-40353-7 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan UK