She is the author of This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form (Duke 2016) and Caste, Colonialism and Counter-Modernity (Routledge 2005), and the general editor of The Cambridge History of World Literature (2 vols. 2021). She is also the general editor of the Cambridge book series Cambridge Studies in World Literature. Her other books include Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual (ed. 2007) and Rethinking Gandhi and Nonviolent Relationality: Global Perspectives (ed. 2007). Her published work has appeared in journals such as New Literary History, Postcolonial Studies, Interventions, Asian Studies Review, South Asia, Angelaki, and the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry.
She is currently completing a monograph entitled Catastrophic Modes and Planetary Realism. The book conceives catastrophe in the language of existential risk rather than as an end-of-the-world occurrence. Literary and cinematic works on four iconic contemporary scenarios of catastrophe feature in this study: drone warfare, viral pandemics, nuclear accidents, and climate change. The work explores the changing aesthetics of realism in a planetary realm and the ontological upending of the realist novel’s humanist ground by mega-scale nonhuman forces.
As director of humanities institutes in two countries over a decade and a half, she has fostered international projects and networks in the fields of environmental humanities, digital humanities, informatics, human rights and refugee migration, and global south studies. From 2017-2021, she led a Lab, Humanities Informatics, with an interdisciplinary team of computer scientists, data scientists, media scholars, sociologists, philosophers, literary theorists, legal scholars, ethicists, and historians of science and technology. The Lab explored epistemological and ethical questions about contemporary infrastructures of information - social media, big data, algorithms, AI - that shape knowledge and values in society.
Debjani has held visiting fellowships at the University of Chicago, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a Fellow and Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and advisory board member of the Harvard Institute for World Literature, the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory (Bologna), the Interdisciplinary Centre for Global South Studies (Tübingen) and the Centre in Culture, Language, and Communication (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University). From 2008- 2021 she was an advisory board member of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) and has over the years built bilateral links with several humanities institutes across the US, UK, Europe, South Africa, and Australia.
Prior to her arrival in Virginia, Debjani directed the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra. An Australian citizen, she completed her doctoral work at ANU in 2002 and served as tenured faculty in the Department of English at ANU until 2015.