At the IHR, Diya is working on her first book, based on her recently concluded doctoral research (2015–2019) at the Department of English, King's, where she studied Indian experiences and literature of the Second World War.
Two-and-a-half million men from undivided India served the British during this war. Their experiences are little remembered today, neither in the West where a Euro/US-centric memory of the war dominates, nor in South Asia, which privileges nationalist histories of independence from the British Empire. What was it like fighting for the British at a time when the struggle for India’s freedom from British rule was at its most incendiary?
Diya’s book places Indian emotions at the heart of the Second World War. Alongside colonial photographs, she analyses letters, memoirs, political philosophy and literary texts in English and Indian languages to reveal the intensity and influence of these Indian war emotions.
She is also developing her next project at the IHR on hunger, violence and empathy, which will investigate literary and visual representations of hunger in colonised India, focusing on the man-made Bengal Famine of 1943 with its three million victims.
Along with writing feature pieces on her research, Diya has been interviewed on two Channel Five documentaries and BBC Asian Network. She regularly gives public talks on her research – at the British Library, Imperial War Museums, British Federation of Women Graduates, New Art Exchange gallery in Nottingham and Presidency University, Kolkata, India.
Watch a short film on Diya’s research here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbKO-C-kZ8A and visit her website https://www.diyagupta.co.uk.