Sonali Thakkar

Sonali Thakkar
Assistant Professor
  • Department of English
  • Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality
Rosenwald 415C
(773) 834-0390

I write and teach about global Anglophone and postcolonial literatures, and contemporary transnational culture. Currently, I am exploring these interests in the form of two projects: The first, Continental Drifters, is a book-length exploration of the political, intellectual, and affective influence that the cultural memory of the Holocaust exerts on postcolonial writers preoccupied with migration to Europe from the former colonies after 1945. I am interested in how migration creates unexpected constellations and solidarities between different diasporic communities in postwar Europe, and undoes the seeming fixity of racial or religious identities. I examine how literary works, primarily novels, generate forms and figures with which to think critically about concepts such as assimilation, recognition, and multiculturalism.

The second project focuses on international human rights discourse, specifically on the role of forensic anthropology in examining the bodily remains of victims of mass atrocity. I think about the tension between material evidence and testimony, and between persons and things, and I consider how tropes of speech, voice, and personhood intersect with the international dimensions of forensic human rights work and its evidentiary regimes.

In all of my work, I am attentive to issues of memory and memorialization, and my writing on memory has appeared in Women’s Studies Quarterly and the edited volume Rites of Return: Diaspora Poetics and the Politics of Memory. I am trained in comparative literature and have an abiding interest in 20th and 21st century German literature, especially contemporary Turkish-German fiction. I also have a graduate certification in Women’s and Gender Studies, and am thinking about intimacy and affect.


2016-17 courses: Autumn 2016, Race and the Human in Anticolonial Thought (graduate). Winter 2017, Woman/Native (undergraduate).

Graduate: Postcolonial Formations; Global Intimacies

Undergraduate: Human Rights Witness; From Postcolonial to Global, Human Being and Citizen


  • “Foreign Correspondence,” in Rites of Return: Diaspora Poetics and the Politics of Memory. Eds. Marianne Hirsch and Nancy K. Miller. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.
  • Home and Native Land: Unsettling Multiculturalism in Canada. Co-edited with May Chazan, Lisa Helps, and Anna Stanley. Toronto: Between the Lines Press, 2011.
  • “Under Western Eyes: Into the Heart of Africa, Colonial Ethnographic Display, and the Politics of Multiculturalism,” in The Politics of Reconciliation in Multicultural Societies. Eds. Will Kymlicka and Bashir Bashir. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • “The Knitting Lesson,” in Women’s Studies Quarterly: Witness. Eds. Irene Kacandes and Kathryn Abrams, 36:1-2 (Spring/Summer 2008), 174-180.


PhD, Columbia University, 2012. Teaching at Chicago since 2012.