KPU Researcher awarded Canada Research Chair in South Asian Literary and Cultural Studies

Wed, Aug 5, 2020

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) researcher Dr. Asma Sayed has been named a Canada Research Chair (CRC) in South Asian literary and cultural studies. This is a Tier 2 Chair position.


The CRC Program supports more than 2,200 chairs across Canada in research and studies across a variety of disciplines. This grant will provide $600,000 to support Sayed’s research over the next five years, with KPU co-sponsoring the position.


“With three out of five KPU campuses in Surrey, Asma’s focus on South Asian literary and cultural studies is highly relevant to our communities,” says Dr. Deepak Gupta, associate vice president of Research at KPU.


As an English faculty member specializing in postcolonial studies, Sayed is one of Canada’s leading researchers in literary narratives of exile and displacement from South Asia and East Africa. She is also versed in feminist literary and cultural studies related to these areas and in Indian cinema, particularly Bollywood (India’s Hindi language film industry).


“Being a public intellectual, I think it’s important to address social justice issues,” she says. “I do so through the lens of literary and cultural texts.”


In her role as a Canada Research Chair, Sayed will lead projects that include digitally archiving South Asian artistic productions from 1910 to 2010, a period of historic importance concerning the South Asian diaspora in Canada. She will translate works written by Canadian writers of South Asian origin in their heritage languages, such as Hindi and Gujarati, into English. 


“I want to make these writers more accessible to Canadians,” said Sayed. “There’s a fair bit of work that’s being done in all these languages in Canada, but it’s not an area much known in mainstream Canadian literature.”


Her research projects will include working on a book about South Asian Canadian writers and their artistic contributions to social justice discourse, with a particular focus on issues of race, class and gender.


“Dr. Sayed’s focus on South Asian literary and cultural studies, embracing digital humanities, and training students via the research program elucidates and reinforces the Faculty of Arts’ plans to expand academic excellence and community impact, and fosters a research-positive culture within the Faculty of Arts and the broader institution,” says Dr. Diane Purvey, dean in the faculty of arts at KPU. 


“We are particularly pleased with the opportunities the CRC provides to train students, advance their research skills, and deliver career-broadening opportunities.” 


“Her work exemplifies impactful, community-engaged research and scholarship,” adds Gupta. “It also expands innovative learning opportunities for our students that enhances their polytechnic university experience.”