Sonali Thakkar

Sonali Thakkar
Assistant Professor
Rosenwald 415C
PhD, Columbia University, 2012
Teaching at UChicago since 2012
Research Interests: Critical Race Studies|Cultural Studies|Gender and Sexuality|Theories of Diaspora and Decolonization|Colonial and Postcolonial Literature|20th C British Literature|Contemporary Literature|Law and Literature|Political Theory|The Novel


I specialize in postcolonial literature and theory, and my current research focuses on the intersection of this field with Jewish studies, critical race studies, and human rights. The book I am writing, The Reeducation of Race: Jewishness and Plasticity in Postcolonial Politics, tells the story of how postwar attempts to redefine race in the aftermath of the Holocaust made ideas about Jewishness and Jewish racial difference central to anticolonial and postcolonial thought.


My second project focuses on international human rights discourse, specifically the role of forensic anthropology in contemporary human rights practice. I am interested in the tension between material evidence and testimony, and between persons and things, and in the function and significance of tropes of speech, voice, and personhood.

I am on the Boards of the University’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, and affiliated with the Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies, the Department of Comparative Literature, and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. My courses, both undergraduate and graduate, are usually cross-listed with several of these programs. I am a recipient of the University’s Neubauer Faculty Development Fellowship, which is awarded by the College for excellence in teaching. My research has been supported with awards and fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

Select Publications

  •  "The Reeducation of Race: From UNESCO’s 1950 Statement on Race to the Postcolonial Critique of Plasticity,” Special Issue on the Biopolitics of Plasticity, eds. Kyla Schuller and Jules Gill-Peterson, Social Text 38:2 (June 2020)
  •  "Reparative Remembering,” in WSQInheritance, eds. Maria Bellamy and Karen Weingarten, 48:1-2 (Spring/Summer 2020) 
  • “The Holocaust in Postcolonial Worlds,” in The Cambridge History of World Literature, ed. Debjani Ganguly. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021.
  • “Resurfacing Symptomatic Reading: Contrapuntal Memory and Postcolonial Method in The Remains of the Day,” in The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 4:1 (January 2017), 89-108.
  • Review of Rey ChowNot Like a Native Speaker: On Languaging as a Postcolonial Experience, in Critical Inquiry Book Review (2016). 
  • Review of J. Hillis Miller, Conflagration of Community: Fiction Before and After Auschwitz, in Modern Philology 112:1 (August 2014), E118-E125.
  • “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.