Gaiutra Bahadur

Research associate (March-May 2019)

Gaiutra Bahadur

Gaiutra Bahadur © Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

Gaiutra Bahadur is an American writer. She is the author of Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, a personal history of indenture shortlisted in 2014 for the Orwell Prize, the British literary prize for artful political writing.  Her debut fiction, the short story “The Stained Veil,” appears in the anthology Go Home! (New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2018)

Gaiutra was born in Guyana and emigrated with her family to Jersey City, New Jersey when she was six years old.  A lyric essay previewing her current book project, which explores the idea of America through its 20th-century entanglements with her home country, runs in the current issue of the Australian literary magazine The Griffith Review. It’s entitled “Tales of the Sea.”

The recipient of literary residencies from the MacDowell Artists Colony and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy, she is the winner of a national award for prose from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for American feminist writers and is a two-time winner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Award for prose writers. Her work as an independent scholar has been recognized and supported with fellowships from the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, the Society of Authors in London and the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.

For the first decade of her career, Gaiutra was a newspaper staff writer. She covered politics and government for the Austin American-Statesman and immigration, courts and the war in Iraq for the Philadelphia Inquirer. For her work as a daily newspaper reporter, she was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard in 2007-2008. She is currently an independent critic, essayist and journalist. The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund have supported her freelance reporting with grants. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, Prospect Magazine (in the UK), The Virginia Quarterly Review, Lapham’s Quarterly, Dissent, The Boston Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books,  The Nation, Ms. Magazine, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, The Washington Post and elsewhere, as well as in the anthologies Nonstop Metropolis and Living on the Edge of the World. 

Gaiutra earned a B.A. in English Literature with distinction from Yale University and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University. She has taught Caribbean literature at City College of New York and, in Fall 2019, will join the faculty at Rutgers University-Newark as an assistant professor of journalism in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media. 

Graduate Workshop with Gaiutra Bahadur
26 Apr 2019 - 27 Apr 2019
09:00  - 17:00

Centre for African Studies, Rheinsprung 21, 4051 Basel

Graduate Network African Studies

Workshop / VA

Creative Nonfiction Writing

PhD workshop with Gaiutra Bahadur

Picture creative writing

Academic writing and reasoning are commonly understood as the most important skills developed in successful higher education. Writing journal articles, public lectures, research proposals and books are part of the daily routine of students and faculty who share knowledge amongst themselves. In addition, scholars from all disciplines contribute to the public understanding of science and scholarship through regular contributions of essays to newspaper feuilletons, trade journals and, increasingly, online media. Given that writing is one of our key concerns and certainly remains our main form of conducting and communicating research , advancing and refining academic writing skills among students on various levels and across  academic disciplines is paramount. This course will be taught in collaboration with the New York based writer and journalist Gaiutra Bahadur. Together, we will explore the ways in which we ground knowledge about the subjects, societies and histories we wish to represent in academic scholarship and writing. We explore imaginative ways in which creative nonfiction writing can respond to the biases, silences and shortcomings in the representation of women, the poor, the enslaved, the indentured, the criminalised, or the disenfranchised. We’ll draw inspiration from nonfiction writing such as Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother, Stephen Greenblatt’s speculative Shakespeare biography Will in the World, Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land, Natalie Zemon Davis’ Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth Century Muslim Between Worlds and Jill Lepore’s Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. 

For MA students, the seminar is a regular course, taking place each week throughout the semester. Doctoral students, who wish to subscribe to the course as part of their graduate school programme (Graduate School of Social Sciences; Graduate School of History), will join the course on the occasion of a block seminar (2 days-workshop). Experiences in writing in English are a requirement for attending.

Where and when?

26 and 27 April 2019

Rheinsprung 21, Room 00.002 (Friday) and Room 00.004 (Saturday)
We might swap rooms depending on the number of graduates attending.


All participants are invited to register no later than 20 April 2019 via email to

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