headshot of Vasugi Kailasam

Research Expertise and Interest

Tamil studies, film and digital culture, South Asia, South and Southeast Asian studies, cultural studies of Southeast Asia, South Asian Literature and Culture

Research Description

Vasugi Kailasam is an assistant professor in the Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies.  Her research concerns global Tamil literatures, postcolonial literature and filmic and digital cultures of contemporary South Asia and its diasporas. Specifically, her work examines narrative forms and its connections to South Asian cultural identity formations, race and ethnic politics. Before arriving at UC Berkeley, Professor Kailasam was a lecturer of Tamil Studies at the South Asian Studies Programme (SASP) in the National University of Singapore from 2015- 2019. In AY 2023-24, Professor Kailasam will be on research leave and will serve as a AIIS- NEH fellow. 

Professor Kailasam is currently working on two research projects.

Her first book project, Tamil Realisms: Reading the Global Tamil Novel investigates the growth and evolution of the postcolonial Tamil realist novel produced in India, Sri Lanka, and the Southeast Asian countries of Singapore and Malaysia from the 1940s to the 1980s. This research has been funded by grants from The Townsend Center of the Humanities, Humanities Research Fellowship (funded by the Andrew Mellon grant), Hellman Society of Fellows and an AIIS - NEH senior fellowship.

Professor Kailasam's second project, Post Millennial Tamil Visual Cultures assesses evolution of global Tamil visual narrative forms, its linkages to Tamil cultural modernity and gendered consumption patterns. Articles arising out of this study has been published in South Asian Popular Culture and Tamil Cinema in the Twenty First century: Caste, Gender and Technology.

Professor Kailasam's PhD dissertation was a comparative literary project that considers the relationships between the political project of reconciliation and the creative spaces of English and Tamil postcolonial Sri Lankan literature written from 2000 to the present. Articles from this study have appeared in Postcolonial Text, Journal of Commonwealth Literature and as an encyclopedia entry in The Encyclopedia of Sri Lankan diaspora.

For a list of community oriented projects on Tamil cultural identity that Professor Kailasam has worked on, click here.

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