The book is an analysis of how Indian writers who write in English have been shaped by criticism and Western literary trends. It is one of many works Jussawalla has published over the years in her academic specialty, post-colonial literature.
“I focus on literature written by people who grew up in countries that became independent from Britain in the 1940s and ‘50s,” she said.
A professor in UNM’s Department of English, Jussawalla said that while she focuses on Indian authors such as acclaimed novelist Salman Rushdie, she teaches works from African, Latin American and Caribbean writers as well.
Multiculturalism has always been a part of Jussawalla’s life. She grew up in South India, where she received her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Osmania University College for Women in the city of Hyderabad. She said her life would have been very different if not for a family of Mormon missionaries that lived in her hometown.
“My mother was trying to arrange a marriage for me, but these missionaries said I was too young and brought me to America so I could continue my education instead,” Jussawalla said.
She attended the University of Utah, where she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in English.
Jussawalla went on to work at the University of Texas at El Paso, where she taught composition and magic realism in addition to post-colonial literature. She said her classes were popular at UTEP because it is a minority-majority school with many bilingual students.
“Students in El Paso were very interested in my courses and my writing because I brought a different perspective to composition teaching,” she said. “I did not insist on them writing in correct English, but in the idiom they are used to.”
She said she has continued to apply her background in post-colonialism to teaching literature and composition since coming to UNM in 2002, when her now ex-husband became dean of the university.
Earlier this year the UNM Alumni Association awarded Jussawalla the 2014 Faculty Teaching Award for cultivating inclusion in the classroom.
“In her classes, Jussawalla relates the experiences of international writers who lived under colonial rule to the experiences of the myriad cultures in the Southwest,” the Alumni Association said in its biannual magazine Mirage.
She said she hopes one day she can design a course that specifically compares the Chicano and Indian post-colonial experience.
“When something seems foreign to students, it’s nice to be the person who shows them a different cultural perspective,” Jussawalla said.
Jussawalla’s most recent work includes an article for the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association about the experiences of diaspora peoples. She is also co-editing an issue of the South Asian Review with a graduate student that will eventually become a book.
She hopes in the next few years to take students on a semester abroad to study post-colonialism in London, she said.
“I want my students to know that I care about them and want them to succeed, and that if they take anything out of my class it should be a sense of their own cultural identity,” she said.
Lena Guidi is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news @dailylobo.com, or on Twitter @DailyLobo.