Research Affiliate: Dr Payel Chattopadhyay Mukherjee

Dr Payel Chattopadhyay Mukherjee works on the ideas/problems of how one sees the nation, concept of a nation, and theoretical ideas on nationalism. Her focus areas of research are postcolonial theories through particular histories of colonial empire in India and literary works, Intellectual debates among early 20th century Indian thinkers, Rabindranath Tagore, South Asian Studies.


Current research project

Title: Rabindranath Tagore and his West: Connections, Counterparts, Cosmopolitan-nationalism


A brief description of the project:

In my proposed monograph on Rabindranath Tagore, I connect his complex individualism to his collective and dialogic agency. Tagore evolves as an essential node in pluralistic rethinking, with profound reflections on the emergence of nationalism in India and the evolving cosmopolitan interconnectedness with the West. Tagore’s positional historicity inspires an intentional reading in context, forming my archive and my site of analysis. Various archival sources of Tagore are integral to this study of the West as a performative discourse, emergent through published writings, letters, public and private correspondence, and other records of figures, including Yeats, Pound, Rothenstein, and Geddes. These materials will be the focus of my planned monograph, Tagore and his West. A key chapter will have to do with the Scottish sociologist and urban planner Patrick Geddes.

As a ScoTs Fellow working under the mentorship of Professor Bashabi Fraser, Director of the Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies (ScoTs), I find it immensely relevant to a project on Tagore’s internationalization. The Scottish Centre for Tagore Studies (ScoTs) Tagore Collection held with Special Collections at the University of Edinburgh Library would advance my research by providing access to its resources. Also, the ScoTs journal Gitanjali is a repository I will find helpful in my research.

A series of close interactions between Tagore and Geddes across several places between 1915 and 1930 were integral to how their ideas on national and cosmopolitan belonging and ecological aesthetics of education took shape. All these materials will be essential in documenting a substantial chapter on Geddes in my planned monograph Tagore and his West. Geddes’ ideas resonated with the pragmatic aesthetics of Tagore’s Shantiniketan. Geddes’s interdisciplinary approach to knowledge was crucial in augmenting the visual imagination of Tagore and creating new structural value for Indian educational spaces. Together, they developed their ideas and thoughts about education and ecology. Mutual respect and criticality are evident in their sharing and testing ideas about experiential faith, empathetic education, and the renewal of community life with regional, ecological underpinnings. It is intriguing to note and deliberate on the nature of such interactions and their implication on the emerging individualities of these two men. The interplay reflects Tagore’s rooted cosmopolitanism and Geddes’ ecological aesthetics. Interacting with Geddes advanced Tagore’s perspectives on emerging notions of education, prioritizing harmony with nature, regeneration of the land and the lives of people, habits of coexistence being inclusive of cultural alterity, and spaces of argumentation on nationalism. Critical deliberations on these conversations are integral to imagining the continuity of world dialogues despite identities thoroughly marked by discursive sovereignties.



Dr Payel Chattopadhyay Mukherjee

Faculty, Department of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Head, Academic Writing Lab

IIIT Delhi, New Delhi, India &

Adjunct Faculty, Department of English

University of Saskatchewan, Canada.


Select Peer Reviewed Academic Publications

Mukherjee, Payel C. (2022). “A meeting that never happened: Unheard dialogues between Mahatma Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo”. In Mahatma Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo. (pp. 60 – 72) Routledge, London and New York. Print.

Mukherjee, Payel C. (2021) “Spirituality and Spaces in Sri Aurobindo and Rabindranath Tagore”, In Pragmatism, Spirituality, and Society. (pp. 285-304). Singapore Springer: Palgrave Macmillan. Print.

Mukherjee, Payel C. “Unhomely Home, Unhomely Women: The Precariousness of Being, Belonging, and Becoming in the Sri Lankan Diasporic Fiction of Nayomi Munaweera.” South Asian Review 42.3 (2021): 285 -300. .

Mukherjee, Payel C. “A Dissevered Nation And Her Other Self” 45.8 (2021). The Book Review. 45.8 (2021) 25-26. Print.

Tharakan, Koshy and Mukherjee, Payel C. “At home as an outsider: Subarnalata and Othappu: The scent of the other side”. Samyukta: a Journal of Gender and Culture. 7.2 (2022).

Mukherjee, Payel C. 2019. “A Meeting that never happened: Unheard Dialogues between Sri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi”. Gandhi Marg Quarterly. 41 (2&3): 153-168. Print.

Mukherjee, Payel C. “Seeking a universal knowledge space: The Idea of an Ideal University in Newman, Humboldt, Tagore”. In The Idea of a University. New Delhi: Context,Westland, 2019. Print.

Mukherjee, Payel C. “Silent Fallibilities: Poetics of the unspeakable in Saadat Hasan Manto and Ismat Chughtai”. Emotions, Expressions, and Aesthetics: Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi (2018). 109 – 137, Print.

Mukherjee, Payel C., Rath, Arnapurna, and Tharakan, Koshy. “Between Aspiration and Imagination: Exploring Native-Cosmopolitanism in Adib Khan’s Spiral Road and Mohammed Hanif’s Our Lady of Alice Bhatti”. In Madhurima Chakraborty and Umme Al- wazedi (Eds.), Postcolonial Urban Outcasts: City Margins in South Asian Literature in Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures. USA: Routledge (2017)131-149. Print.

Mukherjee, Payel C. and Rath, Arnapurna. “Children of the Midnight in the Maximum City: Cosmopolitan Polyphony in the Bombay of Salman Rushdie and Suketu Mehta”. Salman Rushdie special issue of South Asian Review, 35.1 (2014) 187-207. Published in July 2017. Print.

Payel C. and Rath, Arnapurna. Practicing” Cosmopolitanism in Knowledge spaces, Cityscapes, and Marketplaces.” Journal of Human Values, 21. 2 (2015) 87-98. Print.

Mukherjee Payel C., Tharakan, Koshy & Rath, Arnapurna. “The Agora, the Dog, the Sage, and the Friend: Tracing Cosmopolitan Ancestries in the Hellenistic Regimes”, Anekaant: A Journal of Polysemic Thought, 3 (2015) 71-80. Print.

Mukherjee, Payel C. and Rath, Arnapurna. “Desire and the Déclassé: Body and Religion in Our Lady of Alice Bhatti”. eDhvani: University of Hyderabad Journal of Comparative Literature. 6 (2015) 22-38. Web.

Mukherjee, Payel C. and Rath, Arnapurna. “Reading the South Asian Woman: The Woman Who Flew by Nasreen Jahan “. The Book Review. 38.8 (2014) 376. Print. [Review article]