Ghosh, Bishnupriya

Professor of English and Global Studies


Presidency College, India (B.A.)
Wellesley College, United States (B.A.)
Northwestern University (M.A.-PhD.)

With a doctorate from Northwestern University, Bishnupriya Ghosh is Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she teaches postcolonial theory and global media studies. Much of her scholarly work interrogates the relations between the global and the postcolonial; area studies and transnational cultural studies; popular, mass, and elite cultures. While publishing essays on literary, cinematic, and visual culture in several collections and journals such as boundary 2, Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Public Culture and Screen, in her first two books, Ghosh focused on contemporary elite and popular cultures of globalization. When Borne Across: Literary Cosmopolitics in the Contemporary Indian Novel (Rutgers UP, 2004) addressed the dialectical relations between emerging global markets and literatures reflexively marked as “postcolonial,” and Global Icons: Apertures to the Popular (Duke UP, 2011) turned to visual popular culture as it constitutes the global. Research is underway for a third monograph, The Unhomely Sense: Spectral Cinemas of Globalization that tracks the relations between globalization and cinematic/post-cinematic images.

Apart from these works that directly address the question of the “global” in contemporary mediascapes, in the last three years, Ghosh has turned to risk and globalization – or, rather, how the risk media globalize technoscientific rationality. The shift began in 2008-9 with the research collaboration, “Speculative Globalities” that met at the UCHRI (The University of California Humanities Research Institute). Drawing on this seed project, a group of faculty at University of California, Santa Barbara, convened a series of conferences, screenings, readings, and discussion groups in 2010-2012. In turn these ventures have led to several individual and collaborative projects, including a co-edited (with Bhaskar Sarkar) collection on Media and Risk , a residency at Cornell University's Society for the Humanities (with its 2012-13 theme, Risk@Humanities), and a single-authored short monograph (The Virus Touch: Living with Epidemics). Interrogating modular globally scalable risk instruments, programs, and institutions, Ghosh turns to a comparative study of living-with-risk in the United States, South Africa, and India. Much of her recent work explores human-virus encounters more widely treated in The Virus Touch.




South Hall 2520

Office Hours: 

winter 19-please email for appointment


(805) 893-3478


(805) 893-4622


Mailing Address: 

English Department                                                                                                                      3431 South Hall     
UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3170


Literature and the Environment

Research Interests: 

  • Global Media (Literatures, Cinemas, Popular Culture)
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Epidemic Media
  • South Asia Studies


Recent News: 

An excerpt of Bishnupriya Ghosh's recent work, "Looking through Coca-Cola: Global Icons and the Popular" and "The Proximate Truth: Reenactment in the Pandemic-Era HIV/AIDS Documentaries" are now available.

Professor Ghosh is happy to share three essays, "Once There Was Cosmopolitanism: Enchanted Pasts as Global History in the Contemporary Novel," "'We Shall Drown, but We Shall Not Move:'The Ecologies of Testimony in NBA Documentaries," and "Governing by Wrong".

Professor Ghosh is pleased to announce the publication of her book Global Icons: Apertures to the Popular (Duke University Press). The book considers Phoolan Devi, as well as Mother Teresa and Arundhati Roy, the prize winning author turned environmental activist, to be global icons: highly visible public figures capable of galvanizing intense affect and sometimes even catalyzing social change. Global Icons develops a materialist theory of global iconicity, taking into account the emotional and sensory responses that these iconic figures elicit, the globalized mass media through which their images and life stories travel, and the multiple modernities within which they are interpreted.

For more information, and to order the book directly from Duke University Press, please visit


Articles & Chapters: 

‘”Introduction to the “Virus” Section.” Blackwell Companion to Documentary (series Editors Alisa Lebow & Alexandra Juhasz). Wiley-Blackwell, 2014

“High-Rise Horror: Bollywood Cinema’s Security Aesthetic.” Special issue of Representations (summer 2014) on “Cultures of Finance,” edited Colleen Lye.

“Rebound.” Inaugural volume of Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities vol.I. Inaugural issue, winter 2014.

“Tales of Object+.” Inaugural volume of the new journal O-Zone: a Journal of Object-Oriented Studies (Taylor & Francis). Special issue, fall 2013.

“Animating Uncommon Life: U.S. Military Malaria Films (1942-5) and the Pacific War Theater.” Karen Beckman ed. Animating Film Theory (Duke UP, 2014) 264-86.

“Sensate Outlaws: The Recursive Social Bandit in Indian Popular Cultures.” Anustup Basu & Meheli Sen eds. Figurations in Indian Cinema (Palgrave, 2013), 21-42

“The Proximate Truth: Reenactment in Pandemic-era HIV/AIDS documentaries” Bioscope 3.1 (July 2012): 3-69

“Governing by Wrong.” World Picture 6 (Winter 2011)

 “Once There Was Cosmopolitanism.” Ariel 42.1 (January 2011): 11-34.

“Looking through Coca Cola: Global Icons and the Popular.” Public Culture 22.2 (Summer

  2010): 333-68.


Other Publications: 

“What time is it there?” Jump Cut 55 (Fall 2013) forum on “HIV/AIDS Activism,” 1-10

“The Corporeal After-Image: Reflections on Rajkamal Kahlon.” Art India, March 2013, 54-7.


Forthcoming Projects: 

The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk (co-edited with Bhaskar Sarkar) 

"Toward Symbiosis: human-viral futures in the “'Molecular Movies'.” Forthcoming, in Nicole Starosieleski & Janet Walker eds., Sustainable Media (Routledge, 2016). 

"Staying Alive: Imphal's HIV/AIDS video culture." Forthcoming in Joshua Neves & Bhaskar Sarkar eds. Asian Video Cultures (Duke UP, 2016)    

"The Hunger Striker: a case for embodied visuality." Forthcoming in Charlotte Klonk & Jens Eder eds., Image Operations (Manchester UP, 2016)

Projects (Initiatives, Grants, etc.): 

2012-13           Society for the Humanities Fellowship (Cornell University)

2012-17           MLA Executive Council (Postcolonial Studies Division), Delegate Assembly

2011-12           Critical Issues in America: Speculative Futures (programming award)

2010                IHC Research Grant

2009                Co-convenor, UC Humanities Center Residency

2008                Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor, Department of English, UCSB


Recent Courses Taught