Jessica Namakkal

Jessica Namakkal

Assistant Professor of the Practice in the International Comparative Studies Program

External address: 
Ics Program, 210-C East Duke Building, Durham, NC 27708-0405
Internal office address: 
Ics Program, Box 90405, Durham, NC 27708-0405
(919) 660-4353
Office Hours: 
Fall 2016Tuesday 3 - 4:30


My research focuses on the global networks established through colonial conquest and the ways in which movements for decolonization have utilized, challenged, and/or transformed these networks. My first book project is a history of decolonization in 20th-century French India. I have researched and written about the colonial, decolonial, and postcolonial relationships between England, France, and India, paying particular attention to how the experiences of the people in the French colonies in India challenged the dominant narrative of Indian independence and the "end" of the colonial era. My manuscript in progress, Unsettling Utopia: Decolonization, Borders, and Mobility in 20th Century India, shows that the colonial borders the British and French constructed during their rule in South Asia were adopted and reinforced by the Indian state, subsuming many movements for post-colonial autonomy that emerged on the ground in French India.  The book also looks at questions of how decolonization has shaped modern life in Western Europe as well as in South Asia, through experiences of postcolonial migrations, colonial settlement, and utopian experiments aimed a global place-making. New research from my second project on race-mixing and diaspora in South Asia and Europe is forthcoming in the Journal of Women's History, Summer 2019. 

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 2012

Namakkal, J. “Decolonizing marriage and the family: The lives and letters of Ida, benoy, and Indira sarkar.” Journal of Women’S History, vol. 31, no. 2, Jan. 2019, pp. 124–47. Scopus, doi:10.1353/jowh.2019.0017. Full Text Open Access Copy

Namakkal, J. “The Terror of Decolonization: Exploring French India’s “Goonda Raj”.” Interventions, vol. 19, no. 3, Apr. 2017, pp. 338–57. Scopus, doi:10.1080/1369801X.2016.1231586. Full Text

Namakkal, J. “European dreams, Tamil land: Auroville and the paradox of a postcolonial Utopia.” Journal of the Study of Radicalism, vol. 6, no. 1, Jan. 2012, pp. 59–88. Scopus, doi:10.1353/jsr.2012.0006. Full Text