Gaurav Desai contributes to our "Interdisciplinarity Now" series by reflecting on his experiences on the selection panel of the Council’s largest fellowship competition, the International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) Program. Desai highlights a number of elements that make a research project interdisciplinary—drawing on the conceptual frameworks and methods of multiple disciplines (especially those fields not immediately proximate to one’s home discipline) and framing the research in ways that would resonate across a range of fields and approaches.
Gaurav Desai is a professor of English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Author of Subject to Colonialism: African Self-Fashioning and the Colonial Library (Duke University Press, 2001) and editor of Teaching the African Novel (MLA, 2009), he has guest edited a volume of essays on “Culture and the Law” (South Atlantic Quarterly, 100.4, 2001), on “Actually Existing Colonialisms” (Journal of Contemporary Thought, 24, 2006), on “Asian African Literatures” (Research in African Literatures, 42.3, 2011), and coedited a volume of essays on “Multi-Ethnic Literatures and the Idea of Social Justice” (MELUS, 28.1, Spring 2003). Postcolonialisms: An Anthology of Cultural Theory and Criticism (with Supriya Nair; Rutgers University Press, 2005) has become a standard reference and classroom text since its publication. His latest book on narratives of Indian Ocean connections between Africa and India, Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India, and the Afrasian Imagination (Columbia University Press, 2013) received the 2014 René Wellek Prize from the American Comparative Literature Association and was a finalist for the Bethwell Ogot Prize from the African Studies Association as well as the Asia-Africa Book Prize awarded by the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden.