Swati Chawla

Field & Specialties

South Asia


M.A.              Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia, 2015

                      Thesis: “The Female Renunciant in Exile: (Re-)Invention, Translation, Empowerment”            

M.Phil.           Department of English, University of Delhi, 2010

                      Thesis: “A Long Look Homeward: The Invention of Tradition among Exiled Tibetans”

M.A.               Department of English, University of Delhi, 2008

B.A.               Gargi College, University of Delhi, English (Honors), 2005


I am a Ph.D candidate in history and a 2014-15 Praxis Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia. I have always been curious about why and how people make their homes in new places, and am currently pursuing this question through my dissertation on nationalisms and citizenship claims directed against the postcolonial Indian state. My research is focused on migration across the Himalayas in the second half of the twentieth century, and I am broadly interested in issues of statelessness, exile, and citizenship in postcolonial South Asia. My research has been supported by the Taraknath Das Foundation at Columbia University, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Virginia Foundation for Humanities, the Institute for Humane Studies, and the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures at the University of Virginia. I recently completed a USAID commissioned study on “Risk and Resistance in Response to Women’s Increased Civic and Political Participation in the Global South” as part of an interdisciplinary faculty-student collaboration. I was trained in literary studies (M.Phil., M.A., and B.A. degrees) at the University of Delhi, where I also taught as an Assistant Professor and Lecturer of English from 2008-13. 


Book Chapter

2019                “‘No Nationality Now’: Tibetan Applicants for Indian Citizenship, 1947-1959,” in Bobbi Herzberg, Christopher Coyne, and Don   Bordeaux, eds, Political Process and Political Order (Forthcoming)

2018                “A Long Look Homeward: Ideas of Time and Space in the Tibet Museum,” in Nandini C. Sen, ed, Through the Diasporic Lens (New Delhi: Authorspress, Forthcoming).


Book Review

2018    Review of Kaya Şahin, Empire and Power in the Reign of Süleyman: Narrating the Sixteenth-Century Ottoman World, Essays in History (Forthcoming).

2017    Review of Richard P. Tucker, A Forest History of India, Himalaya: The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (Vol. 37, No. 2).

2016    Review of Uther E. Charlton-Stevens, Decolonising Anglo-Indians: Strategies for a Mixed Race Community in Late Colonial India during the First Half of the Twentieth Century, Dissertation Reviews.


Other Publications

2017    “Risk and Resistance in Response to Women’s Increased Civic and Political Participation in the Global South,” USAID Democracy Fellows and Grants Program. Co-authored with Denise Walsh, Vanessa Ochs, Dannah Dennis, Paromita Sen, and Catalina Vallejo.

2009    “Defend the Right to be Offended: Resistance to Censorship in Salman Rushdie’s Writing,” Hastakshar, University of Delhi.

2005    “My Vision for India: Lessons from the Tibetan Experience,” Voices of the Young, India Habitat Centre.

Courses Taught

Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia, Instructor of Record

Forging the Postcolonial Nation State in South Asia (Summer 2018)

Migration in Modern South Asia: History, Literature, Film, Ephemera (January 2018)

Twentieth Century South Asia (Summer 2017)


International Studies Office, University of Virginia, Instructor

Identity in Translation: Critical Orientation, Reflection, and Engagement (CORE) Program (Spring and Summer 2018)


Department of English, University of Delhi (undergraduate colleges), Instructor

Select Courses: Modern Indian Literature, Nationalism in India, Postcolonial writing in English, Contemporary literary theory, Renaissance and metaphysical poetry, Popular fiction, College writing and composition (March 2008- May 2013)

Media Appearances: