Sanjukta Sunderason is a University Lecturer at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies.
PhD, History of Art, University College London, 2012
MPhil, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 2006
MA, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 2004
BA, History, Presidency College, Calcutta, 2001
I am a historian of nineteenth and twentieth-century aesthetics in South Asia. I am interested in particular, in forms and rhetoric of the ‘political’ in visual art from the region. I have hitherto focused on graphic satire and caricature, subversive political iconographies and activist art from the region. For my doctoral thesis, I explored left-wing aesthetics in India under the shadow of the long decolonization, spanning the 1920s through the 1960s. I have been particularly attentive to the various ways in which the Communist Party of India engaged with visual art and cultural discourse in India, through both active political affiliations as well as amorphous modes of ideological assimilation. My new postdoctoral work expands on my interest in the aesthetics of decolonization, by looking at post-partition visual art across India, West and East Pakistan during the 1950s-1960s, alongside simultaneous transnational formations of Third World cultural solidarities.
At present, I am working on three book projects. The first stems from my PhD thesis, and studies twentieth-century Indian modern art through its ideological structures and subtexts. The manuscript is currently under review. The second project is a co-edited volume that looks at Forms of the Left in postcolonial South Asia, the volume itself coming out a two-year long collaboration with colleagues across South Asia, United Kingdom, United States and the Netherlands. The third project is a work-in-progress, and builds on research I have been conducting since 2013 under a broader project Aesthetics of Decolonization funded by the European Commission Marie Curie Grant (2013-2017) and the Research Grant of the Asian Modernities and Traditions profile of Leiden University (2015-2018). The research, spanning sources, archives and private collections across South Asia, Europe, the United States and the Middle East, hopes to contribute to new intellectual histories of the Global South through the materiality and scopes of the aesthetic.
At Leiden University, I offer courses across programs, spanning BA South and Southeast Asian Studies and MA Asian Studies in Leiden and BA International Studies at The Hague. I teach and supervise on issues broadly resonating with questions of cultural production, cultural politics, activism, cultural and critical theory, with a focus on South Asia and the Global South.