Cogut Institute for the Humanities

Kiran Lam-Saili

2022–23 Graduate Fellow, Ph.D. Candidate in English
Project “Identification After Disillusionment: The ‘Minor’ Idioms of Diasporic Life”
Last updated June 20, 2023, based on June 2022 biographical sketch


Kiran Lam-Saili is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English. She holds a B.A. in philosophy from York University and a M.A. in women and gender studies from the University of Toronto. Her dissertation aims at a study of diaspora that is attentive to the disparate afterlives of U.S. empire at the same time that it focuses on the more ephemeral, non-cathartic feelings and affectual registers that shape such subjects’ shared apprehension of “diasporic life” in the first instance. Studying predominately late 20th– 21st-century feminist/queer Asian American and black/queer feminist theory and expressive cultures, her project examines the affective range of contemporary diasporic life that goes unaccounted for under conventional large-scale models such as resistance vs. assimilation and redemption vs. loss. Given how hastily outwardly “non-political” feelings and their oft-female/queer owners find themselves marshaled under such latter terms, this dissertation studies the relationship between affect, aesthetics, and politics through the idiom of “minor” feelings (namely ambivalence, anxiety, “missing,” and forgiveness) to argue for a more careful study of the “weak” forms of feeling considered too passive to do political work.


Meet the Fellows talk: “Minor Idioms of Diasporic Life”