Diya Gupta

Writer. Reseacher.

Delhi Victory Week parade, 1945, IND 5040 © IWM
Indian Army recruitment poster, © Jyotirmay Bareria
Indian Armoured Corps in the Middle East, 1944, K 6711 © IWM
Private papers of World War II Captain SL Bannerjee, © Ritwick Mukherjee
Private papers of World War II Captain SL Bannerjee, © Ritwick Mukherjee

What was it like fighting for the British at a time when the struggle for India’s freedom from British rule was at its most incendiary...? 

I am interested in the intersections between life-writing, visual culture and literature, particularly in response to war.

Two-and-a-half million men from undivided India served the British during the Second World War. Their experiences are little remembered today, neither in the UK where a Euro/US centric memory of the war dominates, nor in South Asia, which privileges nationalist histories of independence from the British Empire.

Responding to this gap, my PhD research seeks to provide the first literary and cultural analysis of the Indian soldiers’ experiences in the Second World War.

My research draws upon diverse sources and authors. I start with letters, interviews and memoirs – ranging from the rank-and-file soldier to the newly recruited Indian officer – along with materials from visual culture to understand how the visual and textual relate to one another, responding to the pressures of war experience. I then examine how political philosophy and literary texts, both in English and Bengali, interrogate Indian war responses.

I have been supported in my research by grants from the British Federation of Women Graduates, the Royal Historical Society, and King's College London's Graduate School and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Watch a short film on my research here.

Click here for my detailed academic CV.

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