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Professor Susheila Nasta

Susheila Nasta photo

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined the Open University in 1999 and hold a Chair in Modern Literature. Before that I held posts at several other institutions including Queen Mary College, University of London, Cambridge and the University of Portsmouth. I did my undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Kent, supervised by Lyn Innes and Louis James. I have always been interested in issues of cultural difference and diversity having grown up in India, Britain, Holland and Germany.  In 1984 I founded the Arts Council-funded literary magazine, Wasafiri: The Magazine of International Contemporary Writing, now housed at the Open University and co-published with Routledge.

Research interests

I have published widely in the field of 20th century and contemporary world literatures. Particular interests are in Black British and Caribbean writing especially the work of Jean Rhys, Jamaica Kincaid and Sam Selvon as well as on women’s writing and the literatures of the South Asian diaspora (more details are under the publications tab above). Recent books include an edited collection India in Britain (Palgrave 2012) and Asian Britain: A Photographic History (Westbourne Press, 2013). As Founding Editor of Wasafiri: The Magazine of International Contemporary Writing I have been actively engaged for the past thirty years in the evolution of diasporic and migrant writing worldwide and have participated at a number of literary festivals  [Watch an interview on the history of the magazine recorded at the 2011 Jaipur festival].

A senior member of the Open University Post-Colonial Research Group, I have led a number of major externally-funded research projects. I was Co-Investigator from 2004-07 of  The Colonial and Postcolonial History of the Book. From 2007-2010 I was Principal Investigator and Director of the AHRC-funded Making Britain: South Asian Visions of Home and Abroad, 1870–1950.  Focussing on making evident the substantial contributions that South Asians made to British life in this little-known early period of migration, this interdisciplinary archival project built on ideas I initially explored in my 2002 monograph, Home Truths: Fictions of the South Asian Diaspora in Britain. More recently I have been leading a public engagement follow-on, Beyond the Frame: Indian-British Connections 1850-1950, which has created joint digital materials with the British Library and toured an exhibition to eight cities in Indian in 2011-2012.

I am interested in applications from research students working in any of the areas above.

Selected publications

Asian Britain: A Photographic History, with Florian Stadtler (Westbourne Press, 2013). Find out more. Read a review of this book.
India in Britain: South Asian Networks and Connections, 1858-1950, ed. Susheila Nasta (Palgrave 2012). Find out more
’Negotiating a New World Order: Mulk Raj Anand as Public Intellectual at the Heart of Empire 1925-1945’,South Asian Resistances in Britain 1870-1950, eds. Ahmed, R. Mukherjee, S. (Continuum, 2011)
‘Preface’ with Elleke Boehmer, How South Asians Shaped the Nation 1870-1950, ed. Ranasinha, R., with Ahmed, R., Mukherjee, S & Stadtler, F. (MUP, 2012)
‘Sealing a Friendship: Mulk Raj Anand and George Orwell at the BBC (1941-1943)’, Wasafiri, 67 (Routledge, 2011)
‘Nayantara Sahgal and Susheila Nasta in Conversation’, India in Britain – Cross Cultural Encounters, 1870-1950’ (Wasafiri Special Issue), ed. Stadtler, F (Routledge, 2012)
‘Beyond the Frame: Writing a life and Jamaica Kincaid’s Family Album’, in Contemporary Women’s Writing, Vol 3, No 1 (OUP, 2009), 64-86
‘A new introduction’ to Sam Selvon’s Moses Migrating (Rienner Publications: Boulder, 2009)
‘Between Bloomsbury and Gandhi: The Publication and Reception History of Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable’,Books Without Borders: Perspectives from South Asia, eds., R.Fraser, M. Hammond (Palgrave 2008), 120-39
‘A new introduction to “The Lonely Londoners”, The Lonely Londoners, Penguin Modern Classics Series (Penguin Books, 2006), v-xvii
‘‘Voyaging In’: Colonialism and Migration 1945-70’ in Laura Marcus and Peter Nicholls (eds) The Cambridge History of British Literature, Chapter 31 (CUP, 2005), 563-85 
‘Abdulrazak Gurnah’s “Paradise”’ in David Johnson (ed) The Popular and the CanonicalDebating Literature 1940-2000 (Routledge, 2005), 294-343
Writing Across Worlds: Contemporary Writers Talk (Routledge, 2004)
Home Truths: Fictions of the South Asian Diaspora in Britain (Palgrave, 2002)

Teaching interests

Though I have taught across a range of literary subjects, my prime interests are in colonial and postcolonial literatures especially: Caribbean, African, South Asian and Black-British writing. Other areas include life-writing, postcolonial, feminist and diasporic theories, book history, global modernisms and the dialogue between creative writing and critical practice. Before joining the OU I initiated some of the first postcolonial courses in the UK at BA and MA level.
Whilst at the OU, I have taught A430 Post-Colonial Literatures in English: Readings and Interpretations, A215 Creative Writing, A300 Twentieth Century Literature: Texts and Debates and am currently involved with: A335, English Literature After 1800: Transitions. In addition I have taught on the MA: A813 Literature and Nation, A815 Literary Afterlives and A816 Literary Horizons.

Impact and engagement

As Editor of Wasafiri (an Arts Council-funded literary magazine and one of the select National Portfolio Arts Organisations) I have always been committed to bringing my research to a wider public.  In 2009, my  top 10 cultural journeys were featured in The Guardian as part of the celebrations for Wasafiri's 25th anniversary. This has frequently involved participation on BBC radio and in literary and cultural events at venues such as the Southbank Centre, Festival Hall, London. In 2012 I was invited as chair and discussant with Noo Saro-Wiwa and Chibundu Onuzo on two new books by young writers from Africa (22nd March) and in 2013 chaired a conversation between Professor Paul Gilroy and the Caribbean writer, Lawrence Scott on how the Windrush generation impacted on the sounds of the nation at the Purcell Room as part of the Rest is Noise Festival. Listen to this on SoundCloud. In 2014 as part of the magazine’s 30th birthday celebrations we engaged in a project to bring publishing and writers to four London schools.
I was interviewed about Sam Selvon's early days in London for 'A Stranger in the City', part of the BBC series Books That Made Britain (broadcast in October 2016).
One of the prime objectives of the academic research projects I directed on early Asian Britain was to engage diverse audiences in our research findings. Numerous events were held in public venues and local libraries heightened through partnerships with museums and through digital media (see: Beyond the Frame: Indian-British Connections 1850-1950).  For example, the exhibition tour to India visited eight Indian cities, running workshops for schools and cultural events co-ordinated by the British Council. This work in India was featured as an example of public engagement in the Research Councils UK (RCUK) 'Pathways to Impact' case study and has been shortlisted for international collaboration in the 2013 Times Higher Education Awards. See also  the English department's public activities page.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Postcolonial Literatures Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts
The Arts and their Audiences Research ClusterClusterFaculty of Arts
The Ferguson Centre for African and Asian StudiesCentreFaculty of Arts


An unexpected encounter with Sam Selvon at the National Portrait Gallery (2013-06)
Nasta, Susheila
Wasafiri, 28(2) (pp. 33-35)

End of empire and the English novel (2012-01)
Nasta, Susheila
British Academy Review, 19 (pp. 46-49)

Sealing a friendship: George Orwell and Mulk Raj Anand at the BBC (1941-43) (2011-12)
Nasta, Susheila
Wasafiri, 26(4) (pp. 14-21)

"Beyond the frame": Writing a life and Jamaica Kincaid's family album (2009-06)
Nasta, Susheila
Contemporary Women's Writing, 3(1) (pp. 64-86)

Everything to declare (2009)
Nasta, Susheila
Wasafiri, 24(3) (pp. 1-3)

Editorial: 'Cultures of Terror' (2007-07)
Nasta, Susheila and Boehmer, Elleke
Wasafiri, 22(2) (pp. 1-3)

Blake Morrison and Hanif Kureishi with Susheila Nasta (2006-07)
Nasta, Susheila
Wasafiri, 22(48) (pp. 19-27)

Writing a Life: Hanif Kureishi and Blake Morrison in Conversation (2006)
Nasta, Susheila
Wasafiri, 21(2) (pp. 40-52)

Editorial: Making tracks: Wasafiri 1984-2004 (2004)
Nasta, Susheila

Beyond the millennium: Black women's writing (2000)
Nasta, Susheila
Women: A Cultural Review, 11(1-2) (pp. 71-76)

Githa Hariharan talks to Susheila Nasta (1996-10)
Nasta, Susheila
Wasafiri, 12(24) (pp. 22-25)

African, Caribbean, Indian, Australian, and Canadian literatures in English (1986)
Pollard, Phyllis; Nasta, Susheila; Guptara, Prabhu; Thieme, John and Hoeppner, Kenneth
The Year's Work in English Studies, 67 (pp. 701-775)

African, Caribbean, Australian, Canadian, and Indian Literatures in English (1985)
Pollard, Phyllis; Nasta, Susheila; Thieme, John; Steele, Charles R. and Guptara, Prabhu S.
The Year's Work in English Studies, 66 (pp. 646-725)

African, Caribbean, Indian, Australian, and Canadian Literature in English (1984)
Booth, James; Nasta, Susheila; Guptara, Prabhu; Thieme, John and Steele, Charles
The Year's Work in English Studies, 65(1) (pp. 665-761)

Samuel Selvon: a preliminary bibliography (1983-03)
Nasta, Susheila
Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 18(1) (pp. 131-143)

African, Caribbean, Canadian, Indian, and Australian Literature in English (1983)
Booth, James; Nasta, Susheila; Steele, Charles R.; Pollard, Arthur and Guptara, Prabhu
The Year's Work in English Studies, 64(1) (pp. 531-586)

African, Caribbean, and Canadian literature (1982)
Booth, James; Nasta, Susheila and Knowles, Owen
The Year's Work in English Studies, 63(1) (pp. 462-491)

Asian Britain: A Photographic History (2013-10-09)
Nasta, Susheila and Stadtler, Florian
ISBN : 978-1-908906-11-3 | Publisher : Westbourne Press | Published : London

Home truths: fictions of the South Asian diaspora in Britain (2002)
Nasta, Susheila
ISBN : 333670051 | Publisher : Palgrave | Published : Basingstoke, UK

An Annotated Bibliography of Novelists from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia (1992)
Nasta, Susheila
ISBN : 9780863551369 | Publisher : British Council Publications | Published : London, UK

Negotiating a ‘New World Order’: Mulk Raj Anand as a public intellectual at the heart of Empire (1925-1945) (2011-12-22)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Ahmed, Rehana and Mukherjee, Sumita eds. South Asian Resistances in Britain, 1858-1947 (pp. 140-161)
ISBN : 978-1-4411-1756-4 | Publisher : Continuum | Published : London

Between Bloomsbury and Gandhi? The background to the publication and reception of Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable (2008)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Fraser, Robert and Hammond, Mary eds. Books Without Borders. Volume 2. Perspectives from South Asia (pp. 151-170)
ISBN : 978-0-230-21033-2 | Publisher : Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke, UK

'Voyaging in': colonialism and migration (2005-01)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Marcus, Laura and Nicholls, Peter eds. The Cambridge history of twentieth-century English literature. The New Cambridge History of English Literature (pp. 563-582)
ISBN : 521820774 | Publisher : Cambridge University Press | Published : Cambridge, UK

Abdulrazak Gurnah's 'paradise' (2004-12-24)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Johnson, David ed. The popular and the canonical: debating twentieth-century literature 1940-2000. Twentieth-century literature: texts and debates (pp. 294-343)
ISBN : 415351693 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, UK

Sam Selvon with Susheila Nasta (2004)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Nasta, Susheila ed. Writing Across Worlds: Contemporary Writers Talk (pp. 1-12)
ISBN : 0-415-34566-9 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Moyez Vassanji with Susheila Nasta (2004)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Nasta, Susheila ed. Writing Across Worlds: Contemporary Writers Talk (pp. 69-80)
ISBN : 0-415-34567-7 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Interview with Abdulrazak Gurnah (2004)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Nasta, Susheila ed. Writing Across Worlds (pp. 352-363)
ISBN : 415345677 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Homes without walls: new South Asian voices in Britain (2000)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Crane, Ralph and Mohanran, Radhika eds. Shifting Continents/Colliding Cultures:Diaspora Writing of the Indian Subcontinent (pp. 18-27)
ISBN : 9042012617 | Publisher : Rodopi Press | Published : Amsterdam

Stepping out: reading the new literatures in a postcolonial era (2000)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Nasta, Susheila ed. Reading the New Literatures in a Postcolonial Era. Essays and Studies (pp. 2-16)
ISBN : 859916014 | Publisher : Boydell & Brewer | Published : Cambridge

The story of motherlands (1996)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Newell, Stephanie ed. Images of African and Caribbean Women: Migration, Displacement, Diaspora (pp. 52-62)
ISBN : 1857690516 | Publisher : University of Stirling | Published : Stirling

Wasafiri: history, politics and post-colonial literature (1996)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Maes-Jelinek, Hena; Collier, Gordon and Davis, Geoffrey V. eds. A Talent(ed) Digger: Creations, Cameos, and Essays in Honour of Anna Rutherford (pp. 127-133)
ISBN : 9051839642 | Publisher : Rodopi | Published : Amsterdam

Setting up home in the City of Words: Sam Selvon's London novels (1995)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Lee, R ed. Other Britain, other British : contemporary multicultural fiction (pp. 48-69)
ISBN : 745306462 | Publisher : Pluto Press | Published : London

Motherlands, mothercultures, mothertongues: women's writing from the Caribbean (1993)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Barfoot, C and D'Haen, Theo eds. Shades of Empire in Colonial and Postcolonial Literatures. DQR Studies in Literature (11) (pp. 24-36)
ISBN : 9051833644 | Publisher : Rodolphi | Published : Amsterdam/Atlanta

The English-speaking Caribbean (1992)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Buck, Claire ed. The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature (pp. 155-163)
ISBN : 9780136896210 | Publisher : Prentice Hall General Reference | Published : New York

There's no such thing as only literature : English teaching in an anti-racist and multicultural context (1989)
Gerschel, Liz and Nasta, Susheila
In: Brooker, Peter and Humm, Peter eds. Dialogue and Difference: English into the Nineties. New Accents (pp. 132-148)
ISBN : 415016444 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Teaching the lonely Londoners (1988)
Nasta, Susheila
In: Dabydeen, David ed. A Handbook for the Teaching of Caribbean Literature (pp. 25-35)
ISBN : 435911856 | Publisher : Heinemann

India in Britain: South Asian Networks and Connections, 1858-1950 (2012-11-25)
Nasta, Susheila ed.
ISBN : 9780230392717 | Publisher : Palgrave | Published : Basingstoke

The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon (2006-07-27)
Nasta, Susheila
Nasta, Susheila ed.
Penguin Modern Classics
ISBN : 9780141188416 | Publisher : Penguin Books | Published : London, U.K.

Africa 05 (2005-10)
Nasta, Susheila ed.
ISBN : 954825659 | Publisher : Wasafiri | Published : London, UK

Writing across worlds: contemporary writers talk (2004-07-23)
Nasta, Susheila ed.
ISBN : 415345677 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, UK

Reading the New Literatures in a Postcolonial Era (2000)
Nasta, Susheila ed.
Essays and Studies
ISBN : 859916014 | Publisher : Boydell & Brewer | Published : Cambridge

Tiger's Triumph: Celebrating Sam Selvon (1995)
Nasta, Susheila and Rutherford, Anna eds.
ISBN : 1871049237 | Publisher : Dangaroo Press | Published : Sydney

Highway in the Sun (1992)
Nasta, Susheila ed.
ISBN : 948833076 | Publisher : Peepal Tree Press | Published : Leeds

Motherlands: Black Women's Writing from the Caribbean, Africa and South Asia (1991)
Nasta, Susheila ed.
ISBN : 704342693 | Publisher : Rutgers University Press

Foreday Morning: Selected Prose 1946-1986 (1989)
Ramchand, Kenneth and Nasta, Susheila eds.
Longman Caribbean writers
ISBN : 582039827 | Publisher : Longman | Published : Harlow

El Dorado West One (1988-01-06)
Nasta, Susheila ed.
ISBN : 948833068 | Publisher : Peepal Tree Press | Published : Leeds

Critical Perspectives on Sam Selvon: A Collection of Essays, Reviews, Articles and Dialogues (1988)
Nasta, Susheila ed.
ISBN : 894102389 | Publisher : Three Continents Press | Published : Washington

Asians in Britain, 1858-1950 (2011-11-20)
Nasta, Susheila; Stadtler, Florian and Visram, Rozina
The British Library

Editorship of Wasafiri General Issue No. 67 (Summer 2011) (2011-07)
Nasta, Susheila
Wasafiri, 26(3), Abingdon.

South Asians making Britain: timeline (2010-09-10)
Nasta, Susheila; Stadtler, Florian; Visram, Rozina; Pulham, Sheila and Villani, Lisa
Guardian Newspapers, UK.

Making Britain: discover how South Asians shaped the nation, 1870-1950 (2010-09-01)
Nasta, Susheila; Ahmed, Rehana; Stadtler, Florian; Mukherjee, Sumita; Boehmer, Elleke and Ranasinha, Ruvani
The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

Moses Migrating: A Novel (new edition) (2009)
Selvon, Samuel
Lynne Reiner, Boulder, Colorado.

Special Issue of Wasafiri: The Book in the World (2007-10)
Nasta, Susheila and Fraser, Robert
Routledge, Abingdon.

Introduction (2006-07-26)
Selvon, Sam
Penguin, London, UK.

Special Issue of Wasafiri: Life-writing (2006-06)
Nasta, Susheila
Routledge, Abingdon.

Special Issue of Wasafiri: Writing in Britain: Shifting geographies (2002-07)
Nasta, Susheila
Routledge, Abingdon.

Romesh Gunesekera (2002)
Nasta, Susheila
British Council Arts Group

V.S.Naipaul (2002)
Nasta, Susheila
British Council Arts Group

Earl Lovelace (2002)
Nasta, Susheila
British Council Arts Group