Dr Meera Ashar

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Research interests

Colonial and Modern South Asia; Western India and Pakistan; Colonial Education; Identity, Selfhood and Belonging; Coloniality and Postcolonialism; Legal Histories; Gandhi; Keywords, Categories and Concepts of Politics; History of Ideas.


Meera Ashar is a Lecturer in the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University. She is also the Deputy Director of the South Asia Research Institute (SARI) and the Secretary of the South Asian Studies Association of Australia (SASAA). She has previously worked as an Assistant Professor at the City University of Hong Kong and has been an LM Singhvi Fellow at the Centre of South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge.

Meera’s research interests lie at the intersection of history, political theory and literary studies. Her work addresses questions about identity, self-representation, belonging and colonialism. She is currently completing a manuscript on the controversial nineteenth-century novel, Saraswatichandra, and has recently started work on a set of oral folk narratives that were compiled and published as ‘children’s stories’ in the late colonial period. Meera is also working on a collaborative project on broader questions of colonial education that will start with an examination of debates on education in India and Hong Kong and later hopes to include other postcolonial nations.

Meera reads and writes in several South Asian languages and in a couple of European ones.

Researcher’s projects

“The Ordinary Indian Mind”: Saraswatichandra and Questions of Representation and Instruction (Book manuscript)

Ways of Belonging: Discourses of the Nation and Desh in South Asia

The 1862 Maharaj Libel Case

Folk Children’s Stories from Western India

Cultures of Learning: Education and Instruction in Colonial Western India
Comparative Perspectives on Colonial Education in Asia and the Pacific (with Dr. Hongling Liang)

Everyday English Keywords in South Asia (with Prof. Craig Jeffrey and A/Prof Assa Doron)

Current student projects

Mark Jones (Chair of Phd Committee)
Thesis title: Rule of law for Zomia: Colonial Rule in Kumaon

Shvetal Vyas Pare (Chair of Phd Committee)
Thesis title: Becoming India: Contingent Regional and National Identities

Megan Downes (Supervisor)
Thesis title: Tradition and modernity: Negotiating constructed binaries in Indonesian popular culture

Maria Myutel (Supervisor)
Thesis title: Media representation of Indian diaspora in Indonesia

Nonie Tuxen (Supervisor)
Thesis title: Desiring Overseas Education: accumulating capital in the “new” urban Indian middle class

Lisa Stewart (Advisor)
Thesis title: Going with the Flow: Social Context, Uncertainty and Decision Making

Filed under: Fellows

Updated:  28 January 2016/ Responsible Officer:  SARI director/ Page Contact:  SARI director