Spotlight on Staff: Professor Pablo Mukherjee
Tell us about your research interests.
I work in four overlapping research areas – colonial & postcolonial literatures; 19th-century literatures; world-literary studies; and environmental humanities. Obviously, these are pretty broad categories that allow me to roam widely across various genres, topics, forms and authors. I have in the past worked on crime fiction, science fiction and other popular literary genres as well as on the intersections between literature, science, history, law, politics, economics and the environment.
Which book has had the biggest impact on you?
It is difficult to say. I am someone who usually has six to seven books on the go at the same time and have done so for as long as I can remember. I suppose if I were to think of the earliest books that sucked me into the world of reading, two come to mind – the Bengali writer Lila Majumdar’s wonderful memoir Aar Konokhane (Elsewhere) and the Soviet naturalist Vera Chaplina’s equally magical Amader Chiriakhana (Tales from the Moscow Zoo).
What do you do in your spare time?
Ha ha ha – between my job and childcare, there is not much spare time. But every second that I can spare goes to training for and playing cricket for my club and county and reading.
Describe your ideal day.
Any day that does not start with a 06.45 alarm.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional cricketer.
Who had the greatest influence on you during your childhood?
All the women who looked after me.
Who were your childhood heroes?
Socrates. (No, not that one; the Brazilian doctor and footballer who captained the 1982 seleção.)
What teacher had the greatest impact on you?
My Bengali- and English-literature teachers in my high school.
Were you popular as a teenager?
What is your favourite music?
Too many to pick from – if you held a gun to my head I would probably go for the Bengali folk form known as Bhatiali and the singer Abbasuddin Ahmed. Abbasuddin’s voice is a kind of home.
If you could have dinner with five famous people from history, who would they be?
Even if you held a gun to my head, you could not make me go to dinner with any famous people. I much, much prefer the company of my friends.
Why are we here?
Why not? A good planet is hard to find.
If you weren’t a member of the English Faculty, what would you be?
Probably a journalist or a publisher or a care-worker.
Pablo Mukherjee is the author of five monographs – Crime Fiction and Empire (2003), Postcolonial Environments: Nature, Culture and Contemporary Indian Novel in English (2010), Natural Disasters and Victorian Imperial Culture (2013), (with WReC) Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-Literature (2015) and Final Frontiers: Science Fiction and Techno-Science in Non-Aligned India (2020: Winner of Science Fiction Research Association’s Book Award 2021). He co-edits Palgrave Macmillan’s book series New Comparisons in World Literature. He is currently developing a project on anti-colonial world literatures, and working with colleagues at the New School of the Anthropocene (NSOTA, London) to develop the role of arts & humanities in popular understanding of climate change. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2022.