Anjuli Gunaratne grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka and received her Ph.D. in English and the Interdisciplinary Humanities at Princeton University. In 2017-2018, she was the Carol G. Lederer Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University’s Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. Her work has appeared in PMLA (Publication of the Modern Language Association) and is forthcoming in the CLR James Journal and Research in African Literatures.
Interested broadly in the literatures of the former British and French colonies, Anjuli will use her time at the Society of Follows to complete her book, Forensic Diaspora: Tragedy, Melancholy, and the Poetics of Postcolonial Justice, which broadly studies the emergence of tragedy as a dramatic, narrative, and philosophical form in postcolonial and African diaspora literature. Reading the works of James Baldwin, Aimé Césaire, Assia Djebar, C. L. R. James, Michael Ondaatje, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, and Sylvia Wynter, Forensic Diaspora unearths a modern tragedy that these writers innovatively create by subjecting the limits of legal and scientific theories of closure and justice to both melancholic and playful literary forensic investigations.
Revealing Western tragedy as the forensic process the genre implicitly entailed, these writers of an emergent cultural diaspora, conduct unofficial investigations into disappeared figures and forms of anticolonial and antiracist resistance. Investigating, excavating, and surveying scenes of cultural loss, these postcolonial tragedies mimic, Anjuli argues, the gestures of forensic archeology, but with a critical difference: they displace the latter’s prioritization of gathering verifiable evidence by seeking instead to establish counter-historical relationships with human ruins and remains.