Jini Kim Watson received two undergraduate degrees, in architecture and literature, in Australia, before doing her doctoral study at Duke’s Literature Program. Her teaching and research investigate the ways that postcolonial cultural production—literature, film, theoretical writings—have reckoned with ongoing questions of decolonization, national and global imaginaries, uneven development and political modernity. Her book The New Asian City (Minnesota UP, 2011) examined the rise of so-called “Asian Tiger” economies and metropolises through a lens attentive to colonial histories, national imaginaries and Cold War hegemonies. She has also co-edited a collected volume of essays with Gary Wilder on The Postcolonial Contemporary: Political Imaginaries for the Global Present (Fordham UP, 2018).
More recently, Jini has written on the films of Tan Pin Pin and Singapore as model city for the global south; on Ninotchka Rosca and anti-dictatorship literature; on Hwang Sôk-yông and the legacy of the divided Korean peninsula; and on Oceanic literature and sovereignty with regard to Australia’s offshore refugee detention centers. Her current book project, Ruling Like a Foreigner, asks what literary representations of Cold War authoritarian regimes in Asia can tell us about the autocratic turn in the postcolonial world, as well as our current moment.
Jini regularly teaches undergraduate classes on postcolonial literature and theory, globalization, theories and practices of liberation, and Asia/Pacific literature and film. Her recent graduate seminars have included “Cold War/Postcolonial”; “The Postcolonial Contemporary”; “Place, Space and the Postcolonial” and “Literary Dictatorships”. Since arriving at NYU she has been co-convener of the Postcolonial, Race and Diaspora Studies Colloquium, which regularly gathers noted and emerging scholars in the field for discussion and conviviality.