Alka Kurian

Alka Kurian

Associate Teaching Professor

Faculty Co-cordinator: Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

M.A. M.Phil., French, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
Maitrise, French, Université Stendhal, Grenoble, France
Ph.D. Film and Cultural Studies, University of Sunderland, UK

Office: HH 1412
Email: alkak@uw.edu


I teach a range of courses that focus on film, media, gender studies, and the human rights discourse. My background is in South Asian diasporic film and literature where I examine the politics of representation of the issues of race, ethnicity, gender, identity, sexuality, politics, religion, neo-colonialism, and globalization.

The focus of my teaching and is in unraveling a specific form of post-colonial gendered cinema where the cinematic narrative is viewed as an act of political engagement with the world and a site of feminist struggle. I am interested in South Asian oppositional cinematic narratives (non-mainstream, documentary, or experimental) with the view to understanding the everyday struggles of women and identify the development of their political consciousness. My interest in alternative cinematic practices of South Asia is closely allied to my fascination with the representational politics of Bollywood, a major cultural site in India that produces, perpetuates, circulates and problematizes dominant ideology both at home and within the South Asian diaspora. Central to my teaching is transnational feminist film and media practices located in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and North America where I stress the significance of an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the cinemas of border, displacement, and migration. And finally, my teaching also takes on board a historical understanding of national and international feminist theories, a critical exploration of the interlocking system of global hierarchies of power and oppression, and an examination of resistance strategies put in place by contemporary feminist movements envisioning a just and equitable world.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS300: Interdisciplinary Inquiry
BIS224: Introduction to Feminist Studies
BIS339: The Politics of Bollywodod
BIS339: Gender, Human Rights and Global Cinema
BISCLA380: Postcolonial Literatures
BIS466: Human Rights and Resistance
BIS480: Gender, Culture, and Human Rights: Study Abroad in India
BIS499: Capstone Portfolio


My research interests center on feminist politics in South Asia, gender and cinema, and postcolonial literature and cinemas of opposition, border, and of displacement.

I am one of the founding co-editors of the peer-reviewed journal South Asian Film and Media, and  host the podcast South Asian Films and Books.

I am a Fulbright US Scholar to Morocco, 2021.

Selected Publications


Narratives of Gendered Dissent in South Asian Cinemas (2014), New York: Routledge (Taylor and Francis group)

New Feminisms in South Asia: Disrupting the Discourse through Social Media, Film, and Literature (co-edited) (2017) New York: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)

Book Chapters

“Gender, War, and Resistance: A case of Kashmir,” (2021) in Chowdhury and Niyogi (Eds) South Asian Filmscapes: Transregional Encounters, University of Washington. 

“Gender and Indian Cinema: Continuation and Change,” (2018) in Lal and Panda (Eds.) (2nd ed.)  Signifying the Self: Women and Literature, Macmillan. 

“Decolonizing the Body: Fourth Wave Feminism in India,” in Kurian and Jha (Eds.) (2017) New Feminisms in South Asia: Disrupting the Discourse Through Social Media, Film and Literature, New York: Routledge. 

“Solidarity Through Dissidence: Violence and Community in Indian Cinema” (2016) in Elora Chowdhury and L. Philipose (Eds.), Dissident Friendships: Imperialism, Feminism and Transnational Solidarity, University of Illinois Press.

“Postcolonial Transgression in Deepa Mehta’s Feminist Quartet” (2016) in Viswamohan, Aysha Iqbal & John, Vimal Mohan (Eds.). Behind the Scenes: Contemporary Bollywood Directors and their Cinema. London, NY & New Delhi: Sage