Grad Studies: Questions of Empire and Transpacific Migration

PhD student Nyla Numan was awarded an inaugural Early Career PhD Merit Award from the Department of English
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Congratulations to Nyla Numan, a doctoral candidate in English literature who received an inaugural Early Career PhD Merit Award from the Department of English! This new grant is meant to recognize "exceptional levels of academic engagement on the part of a beginning PhD student" and to encourage the student's future research agenda. Numan generously described the impact of the award.

What are you currently exploring at the University of Minnesota?

I found the process of focusing my research interests to be challenging during my first two years in the program, as I was excited by all that I was learning in my graduate courses. I was changing the way I read while working with Professor Qadri Ismail, thinking through different approaches with Professors Megan Finch, Rachel Trocchio, and Josephine Lee, and probing my methodology with Joseph Farag in Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Sima Shakhsari in Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies, and Margaret Werry in Theatre Arts & Dance. But I have continued to be compelled by questions of migration and diaspora, and have recently been focusing on twentieth- and twenty-first century texts that are particularly grappling with the contexts of US and Japanese imperialism during the Asia-Pacific War.

What will this Early Career Merit Award make possible for you?

The ECMA is supporting my engagement with the fields of Asian American studies and Queer of Color Critique: I was able to meet and discuss shared research interests with other graduate students and scholars at the NeMLA conference in Baltimore last spring, where I presented a reading of C Pam Zhang's How Much of These Hills Is Gold as a site to further consider migrant-indigenous relationality that complicates a settler/native binary. This was a crucial experience for me in feeling re-energized and more connected to an academic community. It has also been affirming to receive this award during the pandemic, which has impacted my sense of direction; I am grateful for the department's encouragement as I head towards my preliminary exams.

Covid has no doubt limited your exploration of the Twin Cities and Minnesota. But what has been your favorite discovery, living here?

I've surprised myself with how much I love winter in Minnesota, especially since I relished every warm weather day growing up in western Pennsylvania and during my undergraduate years in North Carolina. I've also enjoyed exploring trails along the Mississippi and hiking up near Duluth. And as a lover of all things food, Chimborazo, Young Joni, and El Taco Riendo are some of my favorite Northeast Minneapolis restaurants.

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