SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

The SOAS Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS) exists to promote the disciplines of Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies in relation to Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The Centre is housed in and administered by the Faculty of Languages and Cultures, but as a Centre dedicated to interdisciplinary study it is not subordinate to any single Department in the Faculty, either administratively or intellectually.

Many theorists and scholars in the different disciplines of Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies are stressing the need for a move toward the study of non-European literatures and non-European aesthetic and cultural practices. The range of expertise in non-European literatures and cultures offered at SOAS aims to respond and contribute to current critical and theoretical debates in these disciplines.

The mission of the CCLPS is therefore to promote research on non-European cultures and literatures in the disciplines of Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies, with the aim of having an impact on the debates and of eventually reinvigorating and pioneering certain dimensions of the disciplines. The SOAS CCLPS also aims to promote comparative critical thought and postgraduate research in critical methods derived from the study of non-European literatures and aesthetic and cultural practices, in addition to written literatures in European languages.

The SOAS CCLPS provides an administrative and intellectual home for the School’s MA Comparative Literature, MA in Cultural Studies and MA in Postcolonial Studies, as well as the MPhil/PhD programmes in these three disciplines. The Centre places its emphasis on the acquisition of critical theoretical skills and in-depth regional knowledge across disciplines. Members of the Centre and current research students work on an exceptionally wide range of topics, both theoretical and critical. Supervision for research students can be provided across this wide range. MPhil/PhD students may register for a degree in Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies or Postcolonial Studies while being supervised by an associate member based in a SOAS department.

The Centre organises a training programme in the three disciplines for research students, in coordination with the faculty wide Research Training Seminar, which is supported by regular Centre seminars. The Centre also liaises with other discipline-based centres and departments over the following MA degree programmes offered faculty wide: MA African Literature, MA Chinese Literature, MA Japanese Literature, MA Korean Literature, MA Arabic Literature, MA Gender Studies, MA Theory and Practice of Translation.

Membership of the SOAS Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies is open to all academic staff and students at SOAS as well as to individuals based in other higher education institutions in the UK with an academic interest in the disciplines of Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies. Membership will operate on an annually renewable basis. Members will be listed under the following headings: Steering Committee, SOAS Staff (listed by discipline), SOAS Postgraduates (listed by discipline), International Advisory Board (to be invited by Chair through Steering Committee), Visiting Scholars and Affiliated Scholars. An up-to-date list of current members will be maintained by the Centre and will be subject to the Data Protection Act.

For further details, please contact the Chair of the Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies, Professor Francesca Orsini, fo@soas.ac.uk

CCLPS Primary Objectives

  1. to promote disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and teaching in the disciplines of Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies with particular reference to Africa, Asia and the Middle East;
  2. to provide a forum in which staff and students within SOAS, together with scholars from other institutions, can collaborate in the fields of research and teaching in all three disciplines;
  3. to focus on the role of SOAS in promoting not only the disciplinary study of European literary and critical practices but also the literary and cultural agencies of non-European literatures and cultures in all three disciplines;
  4. to effectively intervene in the developments of these disciplines through contributions to theoretical, methodological and pedagogical debates, in the contexts of Middle Eastern, Asian and African Studies, and through publications, conferences, workshops and teaching;
  5. to pioneer the systematic introduction, through curricular interventions, publications and seminars, of the work of Middle Eastern, African and Asian critics, theorists and thinkers;
  6. to provide an administrative and intellectual home for the School’s MA programmes in Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies (the latter soon to be proposed);
  7. to pioneer disciplinary and interdisciplinary practices through regular seminars on Comparative Literary, Cultural and Postcolonial Studies in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, open to SOAS students and staff, to academics and students of other institutions and to the general public;
  8. to advise on the teaching of Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies in the contexts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, such as for the MPhil training programme and interdisciplinary MA courses that include core theoretical and critical studies;
  9. to set up joint research projects and seminars with similar centres and programmes in academic institutions in the UK and abroad;
  10. to undertake the editing and publication of a series of occasional papers on Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies in the contexts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Contact Information

Professor Francesca Orsini, CCLPS Chair and Professor of Hindi and South Asian Literature,Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia, SOAS Main Building, Room 365, Tel +44 (0)20 7898 4242.

Key Facts

Our Strengths

The CCLPS is an interdisciplinary Centre that combines Humanities and Social Sciences research methods and methodologies. It works closely with all members of staff in the Faculty of Languages and Cultures and draws membership from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences.

The Centre places emphasis on the acquisition of critical theoretical skills and in-depth regional knowledge across disciplines.

Facts and Figures

  • Thriving research culture and packed schedule of conferences and seminars
  • Our Taught Master Degree Programmes in Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies are growing every year
  • Our PhD student community is fantastically diverse and active
  • We offer a truly international experience, with students from all over the world studying Comparative Literature alongside Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies with an in-depth regional knowledge across these disciplines. 
  • Members of the Centre and current research students work on an exceptionally wide range of topics, both theoretical and critical, promoting disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and teaching
  • We promote research on non-European cultures and literatures with the aim of reinvigorating and pioneering critical and theoretical debates relevant to  the regions of Asia, Africa and the Middle East
  • Each year, a number of internationally-distinguished scholars join the Centre as Research Affiliates and Visiting Scholars
  • We have excellent collaboration with national and international universities and institutes
  • Our SOAS libraryhosts a variety of invaluable primary and secondary sources for the study of African, Asian and Middle Eastern history and cultures.

Postgraduate Student Profile

Neslie Carol Tan

MA Cultural Studies in SOAS is a course where I was forced to question my perceptions, reexamine my beliefs, and widen my (mental) map. What's even better is that all of these were done in an open-minded, scholarly atmosphere where nobody is an 'Other'. I truly appreciate and highly recommend the critical thrust of the course, the outstanding instruction and guidance of the lecturers/tutors, and the multicultural make-up of the class.

Neslie Carol Tan
MA in Cultural Studies

Contact Us

Professor Francesca Orsini (fo@soas.ac.uk)

Tel +44 (0)20 7898 4242

Our Centre Chair Says

Francesca Orsini

The CCLPS has been leading cutting-edge research on Asian, African and Middle Eastern cultures, literatures and languages through various projects that interest a large number of staff in the Faculty of Languages and Cultures and other SOAS Faculties. Such discussions have been facilitated through seminars, workshops and international conferences organised regularly at the CCLPS and through joint PhD supervision and joint funding applications.

These projects include for example among others, the question of non-European epistemology and knowledge production and consumption in Asia, Africa and the Middle East; the formation of literary history, genres and canonicity in contexts beyond the West; the roles of popular cultures and the CCLPS flagship project on World Literature, which has placed SOAS on the map of world-leading institutions with its innovative and non-Eurocentric focus on Asian, African and Middle Eastern literatures. The CCLPS has benefited from its members’ valuable expertise in the languages and cultures of Asia, Africa and the Middle East; an expertise that attracts high calibre PhD applicants, visiting fellows and researchers.

The CCLPS has one of the best training courses for first year MPhil/PhD students; the weekly course is highly acclaimed by all of our students as it offers them a solid grounding in various research skills and methodologies. Moreover, our CCLPS PhD students gain fantastic professional experience every year as they organise our CCLPS Postgraduate Annual conference which attracts large Postgraduate communities within and outside SOAS.  They also benefit from attending and participating in our wide range of regular seminars, lectures and conferences.

Research Student Profile

Poonkulaly Gunaseelan

"One of the most useful aspects of the programme is the weekly training seminar, which is open to all MPhil CCLPS students. These sessions are designed to consider ‘key’ methodological and theoretical texts, to incite debate and reflection upon your own research. The reflective nature of these seminars has been invaluable to my project, as they have allowed me a responsive space to broaden, question and develop my research"

Poonkulaly Gunaseelan
MPhil/PhD Programme CCLPS

Disclaimer

Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.