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NetSAW Member Spotlight: Aruna Krishnamurthy

posted Mar 18, 2011, 7:01 AM by netSAW Info

Meet the NetSAW member who cares about Teaching

Interview with NetSAW member Dr. Aruna Krishnamurthy. 

Aruna obtained her B.A. and M.A in English from Delhi University and her Ph.D degree in English from University of Florida in 1999. She has been teaching English Literature at the college level for over eighteen years, including teaching at the graduate level.  She also been an active researcher throughout her career. The main topics of interest in her work have been working-class literature and culture and class and gender issues in South Asian Literature.

1. What drew you into academia?

Academia offers a kind of “job satisfaction” that is rarely afforded by other professions. Not only is it driven by a love of the subject, which allows me to make a living doing what I love—reading and writing--but it also allows me to contribute to society in significant ways. I like to think that my classes offer a double benefit: critical skills for thinking, reading and writing, along with raising social awareness about issues that rarely get addressed in the public sphere, such as realities of the working classes, lives of women, etc.

2. What are highlights of teaching career and what is it like to be a South Asian Woman in academia?

Being a South Asian woman in the academic world is not such a rarity any more. With the rise of disciplines such as Postcolonial and South Asian studies there are growing numbers of women in the profession. Being a South Asian has (I like to think) led me to contribute to the college in innovative ways, allowed me to bring an outsider’s perspective, an “out-of-box” thinking, deriving from the cultural experiences of a South Asian childhood. It has also resulted in new courses such as South Asian Literature, new programs such as Asian Studies Minor, etc.

3. How have you overcome the biggest challenge in your career?

The main challenge has been a personal struggle of adaptation: one has to learn to constantly negotiate one’s “identity” that comes from being trained in a certain way back home with the realities of the American classroom or a committee. You want your voice to be heard, yet, you have to find it within the idioms of the West. I have depended upon the good will of my colleagues, students, and friends and my ability to speak my mind with clarity and understanding to negotiate this particular anxiety.  

4. Can you briefly tell us about your recent visit to Egypt amidst protests and what you accomplished there?

It was simply fantastic to be able to be there at this transformative moment. The young people on the streets were giddy with the excitement of change, having taken power into their own hands with idea of shaping their own destiny. It really brought alive for me Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s (whose centenary is this year) words from his revolutionary song, “Hum Dekhenge:”

Jab zulm-o-sitam ke koh-e-garaan

Rui ki tarah ud jayenge

Hum mehkumoon ke paun tale

Yeh dharti dhad dhad dhadkagi

Aur ehl-e-hukum ke sar upar

Jab bijli kad kad kadkegi

Hum dekhenge

Laazim hai ke hum bhi dekhenge.