Jini Kim Watson is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and currently Director of the MA Program and Deputy Chair of English. Before doing her doctoral study at Duke University’s Literature Program, she received two undergraduate degrees in Australia (in architecture from the University of Melbourne, and arts from the University of Queensland).
Her teaching and research fields include decolonization and the global Cold War; spatial and urban theory; sovereignty and political modernity; transpacific and inter-Asian cultural studies. Her first book The New Asian City (Minnesota UP, 2011) examines the rise of so-called “Asian Tiger” metropolises through the lens of colonial history, developmental imaginaries and cold war hegemonies. Her second monograph Cold War Reckonings (Fordham UP, 2021; honorable mention, ACLA’s René Wellek Prize and honorable mention, MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize) explores the way the cold war shaped both political power and cultural forms of decolonization, tracing a particular genealogy of authoritarianism in the so-called “free world." She has also co-edited, with Gary Wilder,The Postcolonial Contemporary (Fordham UP, 2018), which thinks broadly and self-reflexively about the project of postcolonial studies. She is currently co-editing, with Ato Quayson, The Cambridge Companion to the City and World Literature (2023), a volume which examines the role of cities in conceptualizations of world literature.
Professor Watson regularly teaches undergraduate classes on postcolonial literature and theory, transpacific studies, literary cultures of the cold war, and theories and practices of liberation. Recent graduate seminars have included “Cultures of the Cold War” (co-taught with Professor Patrick Deer), "Global Marxisms," “Cold War/Postcolonial,” and “Literary Dictatorships.” She is a longtime co-convener of NYU's Postcolonial, Race and Diaspora Studies Colloquium, a research cluster which meets regularly for scholarly discussions and conviviality.