Laetitia Zecchini

Chargée de recherche CNRS (HDR), THALIM
Chercheuse associée au CEIAS (CNRS-EHESS)
Visiting Scholar, "World Languages and Literatures", Boston University (2019-2020)

Thèse de doctorat « Poétique de la relation et de la dissidence dans la poésie indienne contemporaine en anglais et en hindi » (Paris IV - INALCO, 2007) ; Qualification en littérature comparée, études anglaises ; Agrégation d’anglais

Membre du Labex TransferS (ENS-CNRS-Collège de France)
Membre du comité de rédaction de la revue SAMAJ :

AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council) Standard Grant 2017-2021 on "The Impact of Non-governmental Writers’ Organisations on Free Expression", with Rachel Potter (UEA) and Peter D. McDonald (Oxford)

Distinction : médaille de bronze du CNRS 2015

Short English CV


My research interests include contemporary Indian poetry, with a special focus on the "Bombay poets", the politics of literature/art, modernisms in India, postcolonial criticism as a field of debate, and questions of cosmopolitanism, translation and world literature.

I have co-translated Kedarnath Singh and Arun Kolatkar into French, and am the author of Arun Kolatkar and Literary Modernism in India, Moving Lines (Bloomsbury, 2014). Based on archival and unpublished material, this book aims at "moving lines" of accepted genealogies / cartographies of modernism and ’postcolonial literature’ and at telling a story of modernism in India through a particular bilingual poet, Arun Kolatkar, and a particular time and space, the ebullient post-independent Bombay scene of which his poetry is inseparable.

I co-edited the following journal issues : "Problèmes d’histoire littéraire indienne" (Revue de Littérature Comparée, 2015), "A partir de l’Inde" (Littérature, 2016 which aimed at rethinking certain narratives and categories from the vantage point of Indian texts and contexts) ; "The Worlds of Bombay Poetry" (Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 2017) and "The Locations of (World) Literature : Perspectives from Africa and South Asia" (Journal of World Literature, 2019).

I have started a collaborative AHRC-funded project on the impact of writers’ organisations (especially PEN) on free expression. In this project, my interests are in exploring how the ‘cultural Cold War’, with its struggles over the meanings and forms of ’freedom’, was played out in India after independence ; how the PEN All-India Centre and other organisations responded to the Emergency, to the ban on the Satanic Verses and to other local and global censorship events ; how the Indian PEN strove to shape (a sense of) internationalism, and a sense of ‘Indian literature’. This project entails both extensive archival research and a contemporary focus on the challenges that writers and cultural practitioners face in India today.
More here :

Thèmes de recherche :

Littérature indienne contemporaine (principalement poésie) et histoire littéraire de l’asie du sud ; Pensée postcoloniale ; Modernités/modernismes ; Politique de l’art & de la littérature ; Censure et liberté d’expression ; Traduction ; Cosmopolitismes et internationalismes ; Little Magazines ; Bombay/Mumbai

Principales publications :

Ouvrages / Books :

  • Monographie et traductions

- Arun Kolatkar and Literary Modernism in India, Moving Lines, New Delhi, London, New York : Bloomsbury, 2014 (paperback 2016).

Reviewed Times Literary Supplement, Sunday Guardian, Biblio : A review of Books, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Modernism/Modernity, Postcolonial Text, Sanglap : Journal of Literary and Critical Inquiry, Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Enquiry, Internationales Asianforum

- Kala Ghoda. Poèmes de Bombay, Traduction de l’anglais (avec Pascal Aquien), préface et notes du recueil d’Arun Kolatkar (Kala Ghoda Poems. Pras Prakashan 2004), Paris : Poésie /Gallimard, édition bilingue, 2013.

- Dans un pays tout plein d’histoires, Traduction du hindi (avec Annie Montaut) et préface d’un choix de poèmes de Kedarnath Singh, Paris : Editions Caractères, 2007.

  • Collectifs

- "The Locations of (World) Literature : Perspectives from Africa and South Asia", eds. Francesca Orsini and Laetitia Zecchini,
Journal of World Literature, Vol. 4 : 1-2, 2019.

- Décentrer le cosmopolitisme : Enjeux politiques et sociaux dans la littérature, co-dir. avec Guillaume Bridet, Xavier Garnier, Sarga Moussa, Dijon : Editions Universitaires de Dijon, 2019.

- "The Worlds of Bombay Poetry", Journal of Postcolonial Writing, eds. Anjali Nerlekar and Laetitia Zecchini, Vol. 53, Issue 1-2, Routledge, 2017.

This double special issue is geared towards the larger cultural, linguistic, publishing and creative background against which we can read poets in English and in Marathi and towards the deep symbiotic culture between poets, visual and graphic artists, publishers, filmmakers or musicians in the 50s up to the 70s. It brings together critical essays and personal memoirs on the different aspects of Bombay’s creative worlds, features new interviews with major literary and artistic practitioners of the time as well as key visual and textual documents.

- "A partir de l’Inde", dir. Guillaume Bridet et Laetitia Zecchini, Littérature, 04/2016, Paris : Armand Colin, 2016.

- "Problèmes d’histoire littéraire indienne", dir. Claire Joubert et Laetitia Zecchini, Revue de Littérature Comparée, 04/2015, Paris : Klincksieck, 2015.

- La modernité littéraire indienne : perspectives postcoloniales, dir. Anne Castaing, Lise Guilhamon et Laetitia Zecchini, Rennes : PUR, 2009.

  • Principaux articles et chapitres d’ouvrage récents / Main articles and book chapters

- "’What Filters Through the Curtain’ : Reconsidering Indian Modernisms, Little Magazines and Travelling Literatures in a Cold War Context", Interventions : International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, forthcoming, 2019 :
- "Hurt and Censorship in India Today : On Communities of Sentiments, Competing Vulnerabilities and Cultural Wars", in Emotions, Mobilisations and South Asian Politics, eds. Amélie Blom and Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal, Routledge India, 2019, pp. 243-263.
- “Practices, Constructions and Deconstructions of ‘World Literature’ and ‘Indian Literature’ from the PEN All-India Centre to Arvind Krishna Mehrotra”, Journal of World Literature, Vol. 4.1, 2019, pp. 82-106
- "South Asian Poetry" in The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Poetry, ed. Jahan Ramazani, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2017, pp. 45-57.
- "Translation as Literary Activism : On Invisibility and Exposure, Arun Kolatkar and the Little Magazine ’Conspiracy’", in Literary Activism : A symposium, ed. Amit Chaudhuri, Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 25-55.
- “’More than one World’ : An Interview with Gulammohammed Sheikh”, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 53 : 1-2, pp. 69-82.
- “’We were like Cartographers, Mapping the City’ : An Interview with Arvind Krishna Mehrotra”, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 53 : 1-2, pp. 190-206.
- "Adil Jussawalla and the Double Edge of Poetry", in The Cambridge History of Indian Poetry in English, ed. Rosinka Chaudhuri, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2016, pp. 251-266.
- "Penser le modernisme à partir de l’Inde : Traduction et braconnage, recyclage et renouvellement", in "A partir de l’Inde", Littérature, 04/2016, pp. 96-11.
- "’Crisis in Literary History’ ? Du ’nativisme’ et du provincialisme, et de quelques autres débats intellectuels en Inde" in "Problèmes d’histoire littéraire indienne", Revue de Littérature Comparée, Paris : Klincksieck, 2015, pp. 391-403.
- "No Name is Yours until you Speak it" : Notes Towards a Contrapuntal Reading of Dalit Literatures and Postcolonial Theory", in Joshil K. Abraham & Judith Misrahi-Barak eds., Dalit Literatures in India, Routledge : New Delhi / New York, 2016, pp. 58-75 .
- "Contemporary Bhakti Recastings : Recovering a Demotic Tradition, Challenging Nativism, Fashioning Modernism in Indian Poetry", in Interventions : International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Routledge, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2014, pp. 257-276.

Conférences récentes / Select Talks

- “’How do We Stop Being Somebody Else’s Image ?’ : The Struggle for Cultural Freedom and the Politics of Modernism in Cold War Bombay”, Local Debates, Internationalisms and Print Cultures Between Decolonisation and the Cold War, SOAS, University of London, 2019.
- “‘What Filters through the Curtain’ : Reconsidering ‘Indian Modernisms’ in the Cold War”, Publishing the Postcolonial : Politics and Economics of Postcolonial Print Cultures, Newcastle University, 2018.
- "Eating the Corners of Literature" : Bombay Archival Research from the PEN All-India Center to Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, "The Bombay Poets’ Archive : an inaugural symposium", Cornell University, 2017.
- Defamiliarizing India : Cosmopolitanism as a condition of aesthetic and political survival, "Cosmopolis and Beyond : Literary Cosmopolitanism after the Republic of Letters", Trinity College, Oxford, 2016.
- Bhakti Beatniks and ’drop-out Poets’ : the making of a Bombay Counter-culture in the 60s", Musée du Quai Branly "Contre-culture dans les arts Indiens", Paris, 2015.

Articles en ligne / Select online articles and interviews :

- “‘We all Have a Genuine Fear of Violence’ : An Interview with Adil Jussawalla”,, 2018
- "We are Talking of More than Writers’ Rights, we are Talking of Letting People Live" : An interview with Githa Hariharan,, 2017
- “‘From a Very Young Age, I used to Collect Books that were Banned’ : an Interview with Salil Tripathi”,, 2017
- Du plaisir de traduire Arun Kolatkar La République des Livres, 2013.
- Les études postcoloniales colonisent-elles les sciences sociales ? La Vie des Idées, à propos de l’ouvrage de Jean-François Bayart, Les études postcoloniales : un carnaval académique, janvier 2011
- L’invention du modernisme dans la poésie indienne : traduction, recréations et affiliations transnationales 4eme Congrès du Réseau Asie et Pacifique (FMSH/CNRS), 2011, Paris

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