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Jini Kim Watson

Associate Professor of English , Comparative Literature ; Director of Undergraduate Studies

Ph.D. 2006 (Literature) Duke University; B.A. 1997 (English, Hons I) University of Queensland; B.P.D. 1994 (Architecture) University of Melbourne

Office Address: 

244 Greene Street room 314 New York, NY 10003

Office Hours: 

Wednesdays 11:00am - 1:00pm





Areas of Research/Interest: 

Postcolonial literature and theory; spatial and architectural theory; questions of sovereignty and political modernity; Asia-Pacific literature and cultural studies; feminist and critical theory

External Affiliations:

Modern Language Association; American Comparative Literature Association


Jini Kim Watson received her PhD from Duke’s Literature Program. Her teaching and research investigate the ways that postcolonial cultural production—literature, film, theoretical writings—have reckoned with ongoing questions of decolonization, national and global imaginaries, uneven development and political modernity. Her book The New Asian City (2011) examined the rise of so-called “Asian Tiger” economies and metropolises through a lens attentive to colonial histories, national imaginaries and Cold War hegemonies. It argued that literary and filmic accounts of urban transformation reveal the figural and material struggles that surrounded “new” spatial technologies of factories, high-rises, highways, ports and urban systems.

More recently, Jini has written on the films of Tan Pin Pin and Singapore as model city for the global south; on Hwang Sôk-yông and the legacy of the divided Korean peninsula; and on Oceanic literature and sovereignty with regard to Australia’s offshore refugee detention centers. Her current book project, Ruling Like a Foreigner, asks what literary representations (such as protest and prison literature, allegories of tyranny, or narratives of failed revolutions) of Cold War authoritarian regimes can tell us about both the autocratic turn in the postcolonial world, and our current “global” moment. She is also co-editing a collected volume of essays with Gary Wilder on The Postcolonial Contemporary.

Jini regularly teaches undergraduate classes on postcolonial literature and theory, globalization, theories and practices of liberation, and Asia/Pacific literature and film. Her recent graduate seminars have included “Place, Space and the Postcolonial”, “Literary Dictatorships” and “Meeting Postcolonial Studies and Critical Race Theory”, co-taught with Crystal Parikh. Since arriving at NYU she has been co-convener of the Postcolonial Colloquium, which regularly gathers noted and emerging scholars in the field for discussion and conviviality.


Honorary Fellow, Research Unit in Public Culture 2014-15 (University of Melbourne); Faculty Fellow, NYU Humanities Initiative 2011-2012; Bass Instructorship (Duke) 2004-05; Korea Foundation Fellowship, 2002; Janet B. Chiang Award (Duke) 2001; University Medal (U of Queensland) 1997.


newasian.jpg The New Asian City: Three-dimensional Fictions of Space and Urban Form. University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

The Postcolonial Contemporary
. Co-edited with Gary Wilder. Under contract with Fordham UP.


"Aspirational City: Desiring Singapore and the films of Tan Pin Pin." Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 18.4 (2016): 543-58.

"'We Want You to Ask Us First': Development, International Aid and the Politics of Indebtedness." Forthcoming in Negotiating Normativity: Postcolonial Appropriations, Contestations, and Transformations. Eds. Nikita Dhawan, Elisabeth Fink, Johanna Leinius and Rirhandu Mageza-Barthel. Springer Press.

"From Pacific Way to Pacific Solution: Sovereignty and Dependence in Oceanic Literature." Australian Humanities Review 58 (2015): 29-49.

"A Not-yet-postcolonial Peninsula: Rewriting Spaces of Violence, Division and Diaspora." Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 1.1 (2014): 29-49.

"A Room in the City: Woman, Interiority, and Postcolonial Korean Fiction." The Domestic Space Reader. Toronto: Toronto University Press. (2012)

"Authoritarianism, Cosmopolitanism, Allegory." ARIEL 42.1 (2011): 85-106.

"Seoul and Singapore as 'New Asian Cities': Literature, Urban Transformation and the Concentricity of Power." Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 19.1 (2011).

"The Way Ahead: The Politics and Poetics of Singapore's Developmental Landscape." Contemporary Literature 49.4 (Winter 2008): 682-711.

"Imperial Mimicry, Modernisation Theory and the Contradictions of Postcolonial South Korea." Postcolonial Studies 10.2 (2007): 171-190.

Updated on 01/18/2017