Professor Bashabi Fraser: Director of The Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies.

Bashabi Fraser is the Director of the Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies (ScoTs) at Edinburgh Napier University which has been granted the prestigious Tagore Chair by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) for three years and two ICCR Senior Research Fellowships.

Prof Bashabi Fraser
Prof Bashabi Fraser

She has received the UK-India Educational Research Initiatives (UKIERI) grant for a Knowledge Transfer programme with Visva-Bharati (Tagore’s university) in Tagore Studies. Bashabi specializes in Postcolonial Literature and Theory, Tagore Studies, Personal Narratives and Creative Practice. Her research and writing reflect her interest in transnationalism and diaspora as she explores the intermeshings of culture and identity, dislocation and relocation, belonging and otherness, memory and nostalgia and conflicts and freedoms.

Having taught in Calcutta University and Rabindra Bharati University in India, Bashabi moved to Britain where she has done research and published and taught at The Open University in Scotland and the West Midlands and Edinburgh University, before she joined Edinburgh Napier University’s English Subject Group as a permanent member of staff.

She is an Honorary Fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies at Edinburgh University working on collaborative research projects and teaching Postcolonial Literature in inter-disciplinary courses.

Bashabi is also a Royal Literary fellow, based at the University of Dundee.

 

Background

BA with Honours in English, Lady Brabourne College, Calcutta University

MA in English, Jadavpur University, Calcutta

PhD in English, Calcutta University and Edinburgh University (having won a University Grants’ Commission of India’s Teacher Fellowship)

Research and Publications

Prof Bashabi Fraser specializes in Postcolonial Literature and Theory. Her research and writing reflect her interest in diasporic themes: the intermeshings of culture and identity, of dislocation and relocation, of belonging and  otherness, of memory and nostalgia, of third space and hybridity and of conflicts and freedoms. Postcolonial Literature and Theory, Tagore Studies, Migration and Diaspora, Transnationalism  and Transculturalism in a postmodern world,  Personal Narratives and Oral History and  Literary Theory and Creative Practice.

Her research and writing as an academic and a creative writer, are inevitably interlinked. As a postcolonial researcher and cosmopolitan writer, she is interested  in the tensions between the centre and the margins, the questions of integration and assimilation as I adopt a revisionist approach to culture and identity. In this context, the recurring themes  of the ‘here’ and ‘there,’ of ‘departures’ and ‘arrivals,’ the concepts of ‘home’ and ‘away’ and the significance of the ‘elsewhere’ in relation to  ‘somewhere’ are the focus of my critical enquiry.

Bashabi has her next poetry collection Letters to My Mother and Other Mothers(Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2015) and a special issue journal on Rabindranath Tagore’s Global Vision with an Introduction (Literature Compass, 2015) which she has guest edited, in press now. Her most recent publications include Scots Beneath the Banyan Tree; Stories from Bengal (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2012) in collaboration with a Bengali scroll painter.

The book is about Scots who have been forgotten in Scotland but have become iconic figures India where they are retained in folk memory. Her collection,Ragas & Reels (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2012) includes poems on migration and diaspora with photographs by Hermann Rodrigues.  From the Ganga to the Tay (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2009) is a modern epic poem, in the form of a conversation between the two rivers, tracing a shared history, in a concrete poem which meanders across the page, mirroring a river’s flow. The poem is accompanied by symbolic photographs taken by the artist, Kenny Munro and the author.

The book has had book launches at the Kolkata Book Fair in 2009 when Scotland was the Theme Country, the Nehru Centre in London and at the Edinburgh  International Book Fair. The poem been read at international conferences in Japan, Germany and Italy. Concerts based on the reading of the poem with music, have occurred in Glasgow and Edinburgh. In 2014, Peace Arts organised a dance drama based on the poem with finding from the National Lottery Fund for a beautiful performance in Glasgow’s Mitchell Library Theatre.

Her book,  Bengal Partition Stories: An Unclosed Chapter (London: Anthem Press, 2006 HB, 2008 rev PB) which she has edited and introduced, searches the colonial and postcolonial developments around the subject of Partition and addresses the ‘gap’ that exists in western discourse on the Bengal border.

It is an anthology of short fiction on which she was able to work with a British Academy Research Grant, a British Academy South Asian Studies Grant and a Moray Foundation Grant. The volume has 39 powerful stories by 31 writers from both sides of the Bengal border, which capture the reality of Hindu-Muslim relations in an inter-dependent society before they were ruptured by politically motivated communal violence. The socio-political analysis of events leading to Partition and the emergent questions of nation and narration, are critically explored in two Introductory chapters.

Bashabi is interested in life stories and has published a revised edition of A Meeting of Two Minds: Geddes-Tagore Letters (Edinburgh: Word-Power Books, 2005) which she worked on with a Moray Foundation Research Grant. The book has had two earlier editions entitled, The Geddes-Tagore Correspondence (Edinburgh Review Book Series, 2002, Visva-Bharati Press, 2004). Her poetry collections include Life (Edinburgh: Diehard Publishers, 1997), With Best Wishes from Edinburgh, an Indian edition (Kolkata: Writers’ Workshop, 2001) and Tartan & Turban (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2004).

She has co-edited poetry anthologies: (i) Rainbow World: Poems from Many Cultures, commissioned by Hodder, and runner up for the EMMA Best Book Award  and (ii)Edinburgh: An Intimate City, an illustrated anthology of poetry on Edinburgh (with an ‘Introduction’,  City of Edinburgh Council, 2000)  published with a Scottish Arts Council funding award.

Bashabi has written a commissioned shadow puppet play, The Ramayana, for Edinburgh Puppet Lab with a Scottish Arts Council Writer’s Grant (2004). She is also a children’s writer and has written two fantasy stories which combine prose and verse: (i) Topsy Turvy and (ii) JUST One Diwali Night (Calcutta: Dasgupta Publishers, 2004). Like her poetry, her children’s writing combine two strong literary traditions, that of English and Bengali. She has also co-edited an oral history book, Peoples of Edinburgh: Our Multicultural City (The City of Edinburgh Council, 1996).

Bashabi has written and published several articles which reflect her research interests in Postcolonial perspectives, Revisionist approaches and the application of Literary Stylistics  to  Shakespeare, T.S, Eliot, Robert Frost, James Joyce, Ted Hughes and John Wain,  Scottish poetry and multicultural voices.

Bashabi has been widely anthologised and  has been commissioned to write several pieces and has contributed to several magazines, journals and newspapers. She has worked on invitation for the BBC, The British Council nationally and internationally, for Pushkin Prizes in Scotland, The Scottish Book Trust, The Scottish Arts Council, The Poetry Society, London and The Arvon Foundation on various creative writing projects and in writing residencies and workshops.

Her awards include the 2015 Outstanding Woman of Scotland awarded by Saltire Society,  Women Empowered: Arts and Culture Award  and the IAS Prize for Literary Services in Scotland. Bashabi is a Patron of the Federation of Writers in Scotland,  an executive committee member on the Writers in Prison Committee (Scotland) and the Poetry Association of Scotland, a member of Scottish PEN and  has been on their executive committee for two terms. She is a Trustee of the Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust, and is a  Director  on the Board of the Patrick Geddes Memorial Trust and the Management Committee of the Scottish Association of Writers. Bashabi has been a Consultant Advisor for the Kolkata British Council’s Kolkata-Scotland Connection programme.

Her academic teaching, writing and research focus on Postcolonial Theory and Literature,  Modern Literature and Creative Writing.

Her current research projects are on Scottish Orientalism and the Indian Renaissance: the Continuum of Ideas; Tagore’s Global Impact; Scottish Lives in India based on personal documents and oral history; a Postcolonial reappraisal of Literature on Conflict and the Contact Zone and the mutating perspective of Transnationalism in the contemporary international context.

 

Research and Publications

‘The Spirit of India: an exploration of Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas on nationalism’ in Kundan Tuteja and Kaustav Chakraborty, Tagore and Nationalism (New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan, 2016, forthcoming).

‘The Man of Faith: Tagore on Social Inclusion’ in Eds. Blanka Knotkova-Capkova et al, Tagore on Discriminations: Representing the Unrepresented, (Prague: MUP Press, 2016).

‘Rabindranather Galpe Kaekti Pranteya Charitra’ (‘Some Marginal Characters in Rabindranath’s Short Stories’)in Tapati Mukherjee Ed., Rabindrabiksha. Rabindra Bhavana, Issue 58, 2016.

Rabindranath Tagore’s  Global Vision [italicise title] , special guest edited issue of Literature Compass, Guest Ed.  ‘Introduction: Rabindranath Tagore’s Global’, Vol 12, issue 5, May 2015, DOI: 10.1111/lic3.12231

‘Tagore on the Creative Principle’ in Tagore’s Vision of a Contemporary World, ed., Indra Natha Choudhuri, (New Delhi: ICCR and Har-Anand Publishing, 2015).

‘Rabindranath : Quartet of Sonnets’ in Bengal Lights, ed., Khademul Islam : a Literary Journal from Dhaka, (Spring, 2014) ISSN 2304-3089.

Also published in ‘Indian Horizon, ICCR, 7 May 2011 issue

‘Tagore Studies at ScoTs and in Scotland’ Public Lecture) in Apperception: Journal of the Department of English & Other Modern European Languages, Special Issue on Rabindranath Tagore, ed.,  Somdatta Mandal &  Sukla Basu Sen  (Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan. Volume VII (July , 2014)[ISSN:2321 – 1261].

‘Beyond Binarism: the agency of the writer at the crossroads of change’ in   Scottish Affairs (84), 2013. pp. 1-16. ISSN 0966-0356.

‘Mutual Appreciation: Tagore on Nation and Nationalism’ in Towards Tagore eds., Sanjukta Dasgupta and Ramkumer Mukherjee. (Kolkata: Visva-Bharati Press, 2014, forthcoming).

‘This Great Meeting of World Humanity: Tagore on Education’ in Rabindranath Tagore: A Timeless Mind, eds., Amalendu Biswas, Christine Marsh and Kalyan Kundu (New Delhi: Indian Council of Cultural Relations, in conjunction with The Tagore Centre UK, 2011), pp.118-125. ISBN No: 978-0-9513368-7-8.

‘Rabindranath Tagore, The Solution’ trans. in Bengal Partition Stories: An Unclosed Chapter, Ed. and Introduced by Bashabi Fraser (with British Academy Research Award, London, Anthem Press, Rev Edn. 2006 HB, 2008, PB)

‘When Two Great Souls Meet’ in Revisiting the Raj, eds., Jharna Sanyal and Krishna Sen (Calcutta: Department of English, Calcutta University Press, 2004).

‘Rabindranath Tagore and Patrick Geddes: the Confluence’ in Green Peace Visionaries: Rabindranath and Geddes, ed. Ghosh (Calcutta: Mohor Publication, 2004).

Tagore, Rabindranath, ‘The Solution,’ a short story translated by Bashabi Fraser in Fraser, Bashabi, ed., Bengal Partition Stories: An Unclosed Chapter (2006, London: Anthem Press, 2008), Rev PB edn.

A Meeting of Two Minds: the Geddes-Tagore Letters [italicise title] (Edinburgh Word Power Books, 2005), Rev edition.
Published earlier as:

(i)     The Tagore-Geddes Correspondence complied, edited and introduced by Bashabi Fraser (Visva-Bharati University Press, India and as
(ii)    The Geddes-Tagore Correspondence Edinburgh Review Book Series, Edinburgh University, 2004, 2002).

‘Rabindranath Tagore and Patrick Geddes: the Confluence’ in Ghosh, ed., Green Peace Visionaries: Rabindranath and Geddes (Calcutta: Mohor Publication, 2004).

Fraser, Bashabi & Riach, Alan
Thali Katori: An Anthology of Scottish & South Asian Poetry. Luath Press, 2018.

Available here: https://www.luath.co.uk/new-releases/thali-katori-an-anthology-of-scottish-south-asian-poetry

 

 

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