Jini Kim Watson received her PhD from 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 (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. It argued that literary and filmic accounts of urban transformation reveal the figural and material struggles that surrounded “new” spatial technologies of factories, high-rises, highways, ports and urban systems.
More recently, Jini has written on the films of Tan Pin Pin and Singapore as model city for the global south; 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 (such as protest and prison literature, allegories of tyranny, or narratives of failed revolutions) of Cold War authoritarian regimes can tell us about both the autocratic turn in the postcolonial world, and our current “global” moment. She is also co-editing a collected volume of essays with Gary Wilder on The Postcolonial Contemporary.
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 “Place, Space and the Postcolonial”, “Literary Dictatorships” and “Meeting Postcolonial Studies and Critical Race Theory”, co-taught with Crystal Parikh. Since arriving at NYU she has been co-convener of the Postcolonial Colloquium, which regularly gathers noted and emerging scholars in the field for discussion and conviviality.