Dr Lara Choksey
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
I’m a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health working on “Postgenomic Environments”, a project which brings literary and cultural studies approaches to questions of heredity and environment in the postgenomic era, and asks how decoloniality is practised in situations of planetary crisis. My research draws from science and technology studies, world-systems theory, critical race and decolonial studies, and modern and contemporary fiction and poetry, with a particular interest in speculative fiction. As part of this project, I organised a workshop series on Speculative Methodologies, with sessions on 'Identification and Participation,' 'Catastrophe and Extraction,' and 'Improvisation and Arrangement.'
I'm also a Visiting Research Fellow at The UCL Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism and Racialisation, and a member of the Black Health and the Humanities Network.
From 2017-18, I was an Early Career Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Warwick, where I received my PhD in English and Comparative Literary Studies in 2017, and taught from 2015 to 2018. Before that, I worked as a journalist in India, writing on urban development, crime, and health for the Statesman newspaper in Kolkata. I have an MA in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths College, London (2011), and a BA in English from the University of Leeds (2010). My postgraduate research was fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (MA) and the Wolfson Foundation (PhD). During my PhD, I was a Visiting Scholar in the Institute of Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. In October 2018, I won the British Society for Literature and Science's Early Career Essay Prize for an edited chapter of my thesis, "Peripheral Adaptation: Living with Climate Change in Doris Lessing'sThe Making of the Representative for Planet 8."
My first monograph, Narrative in the Age of the Genome: Genetic Worlds (Bloomsbury), is out in February 2021. The book considers how new descriptions of biological value introduced through practices of genomic sequencing from the late 1970s registered a broader crisis of narrative form, bound to the proliferation of data without genres and plots to make sense of them. This proliferation of data meant the disappearance of bourgeois subjects from realist sites of development (landscape, genealogy, family), and the emergence of speculative forms at racialised peripheries that work around states of disinformation, discontinuity, and occlusion. Moving from selfish genes and deindustrialisation to memoirs of the Human Genome Project, and across figures of cultivation in Soviet biology and non-biological kinship in African American genealogies, the book ends with the radical uncertainty of the postgenomic condition, when the environment reappears as a site of transformation alongside anxieties around the long-term effects of climate change and industrial toxicity.
From 2018-20, I was member of the Global Warwickshire Collective, a group of academics and community activists exploring methods of investigating local histories with descendants of the Windrush generation in the Midlands. The project was funded by the European Cultural Foundation, the University of Warwick, and Coventry University.
I'm part of the Wellcome Centre's Beacon Project on Transforming Evidence, working collectively on the Index of Evidence, "an index to a non-existent book." The project pieces together a picture of what is happening to evidence across a range of cultural contexts, from online populism and social media controversy to institutional and scientific debate.
I'm a founding member of the Exeter Decolonising Network, a group of staff working across disciplines to share research and pedagogies on decolonising the curriculum. In 2020-21, I am an Education Incubator Fellow on the project, "Decolonial Knowledge Production and Anti-Racist Pedagogy."
I've taught on modules at BA level on literary and cultural theory, modern world literatures, devolutionary British fiction, modes of reading, alternative lifeworlds and speculative fiction, disaster fictions, and at MA level on environmental humanities, and have undertaken MA dissertation supervision. I hold a Postgraduate Teaching Award from the University of Warwick.