The Annual Jacques Berthoud Lecture
This lecture will explore the significant, but hitherto obscured, artistic networks and groupings of South Asian writers, intellectuals, broadcasters and political radicals who lived and worked in ‘Bloomsbury’ in the inter-war period. Extending the parameters of orthodox cultural histories, it will explore how the presence of ‘India’ at the heart of empire anticipated a global vision of modernity, one situated both within and outside the European body. ‘The Bloomsbury Indians’ forms part of a wider cultural project to shift the angle of vision and to highlight how black and Asian writing has long contributed to the diverse and intrinsic formation of British literary culture.
About the speaker
Susheila Nasta MBE FRSL is Founding Editor of Wasafiri, the Magazine of International Contemporary Writing she launched in 1984. Educated in India, Holland, Germany and Britain, she currently Emeritus Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literatures at Queen Mary University of London. Well-known as a pioneer in decolonising the curriculum, she has published widely, especially on the Caribbean, the South Asian diaspora and black Britain. Her books include: Home Truths: Fictions of the South Asian Diaspora in Britain (2002), Writing Across Worlds: Contemporary Writers Talk (2004), India in Britain (2012), Asian Britain: A Photographic History (2013), Brave New Words: The Power of Writing Now (2019), and the co-editing of the first Cambridge history of Black and Asian British Writing (2020). She is currently completing, The Bloomsbury Indians, a group biography. Invited judge and chair of a number of literary prizes, including the SI Leeds Prize, the OGM Bocas Award for Caribbean Literature and most recently the 2021 David Cohen award, she has led a number of major AHRC-funded research and public engagement projects. Honoured with an MBE in 2011, in 2019 she received the Royal Society of Literature’s distinguished Benson Medal for an exceptional contribution to literature. In 2020 she was nominated Honorary Fellow of the English Association for her work in English Studies.