Jessica Namakkal, PhD

International Comparative Studies and Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies

Duke University

Box 90405

Durham, NC 27708


University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ph.D., History, May 2013

Dissertation:  Transgressing the Boundaries of the Nation: Decolonization, Migration &   Identity in French India, 1910-1972

 University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

B.A., History, May 2001 (Cum Laude)



Paper, “Marginal Colonies, Minor Archives,” Archives Matter: Queer, Feminist, Decolonial Encounters, Goldsmiths – University of London, Centre for Feminist Research, June 2016.

Participant, Toward a non-Eurocentric Academia: Border Thinking and Decoloniality, UNC-Duke Decolonial Summer Institute, May 2016.

Paper, Panel Organizer, “French India and the Politics of Ambivalence at the End of Empire,” Association for Asian Studies, Seattle, April 2016.


Paper, “Revolutionary Love and the Decolonial Family: The Lives and Letters of Benoy, Ida, and Indira Sarkar,” Critical Mixed Race Studies, DePaul University, Chicago, November 2014.

Paper, “Criminalizing Colonial Subjects: Constructing British and French Boundaries in Colonial India, 1910-1939,” North American Conference on British Studies, Minneapolis, MN, November 2014.

Paper, “From Colonial Citizen to Model Minority: Decolonization and the French-Indian Subject” Society for French Historical Studies, Montreal, Quebec, April 2014.

Panel Chair, “The French in India: Commerce, Law, War,” Society for French Historical Studies, Montreal, Quebec, April 2014.

Paper, “Finding Success in Failure: The French Empire in India,” at the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, January 2014.

Panel Chair, Commentator, “Religious Rituals and Pilgrimage” Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, Duke University, January 2014.


Participant, American Institute for Indian Studies, Dissertation to Book Workshop, The Annual Conference on South Asia, October 2013.


Paper, “Untangling the Colonial Knot: Race, Nation, and Decolonization in French India,” The Annual Conference on South Asia, UW-Madison, 13 October 2012.

Paper, “Many persons do not know…whether they are French or British subjects”: French and British Borders and the Construction of Colonial Subjecthood in India, 1910-1940,” Society for French Historical Studies, Los Angeles, CA, March 2012.


Conference organizer and paper presentation, “Colonial Borders and National Identities: French and British Borders in India, 1900 – 1930,” Rethinking Europe: New Approaches and Methodologies to the Study of Europe in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Center for German and European Studies, University of Minnesota, October 2011.

 Paper, “Decolonization and the Post-Colonial Nation: French Colonial Interests in India after Independence, 1947-1954,” Society for French Historical Studies, The Citadel, Charleston, SC, February 2011.


Paper, “La colonie fantôme : Louis Malle’s India Documentaries and the End of the French Empire,” French Colonial Historical Society, Université de Paris VIII, Paris, France, June 2010.

 Paper, “NOUS SOMMES TOUS ETRANGERS DANS UN REGIME CAPITALISTE: The Comité  des 3 contients-Sorbonne and the discourse of “Third World Struggles” during the student-worker protests, Paris/1968,” UC- Berkeley Ethnic Studies Conference, Decolonizing the University, 2010.


Paper, “European Dreams, Tamil Land: The Creation of Auroville, Tamil Nadu, 1968-1978,” Tamil Studies Conference, University of Toronto, June 2009.



Invited speaker, Duke Awaaz (organized by Diya, the South Asian Student Association),Duke University, November 2016.


Invited Workshop paper (book proposal), Pre-Print, Program in Women’s Studies, Duke University, December 2015.

Invited panelist, “Renaming and Removing as Decolonization,” Heritage and Hate: A Discussion about Confederate Monuments, UNC-Chapel Hill Geography Colloquium, November 2015.

Invited Workshop paper, “Decolonizing the Nation: Colonial Borders and Transnational Crossings in French India,” Carolina Seminar on Global and Transnational History, UNC-Chapel Hill, 23 April 2015.

Invited speaker, Down to Earth Dinner Series, Center for Multicultural Affairs, Duke University, April 2015.


Invited Panelist, “Exploring the Living Wage Gap,” Kennan Institute of Ethics, Duke University, November 2014.

Invited participant, “Between India and France: Reading Pondicherry as ColonialArchive,”’ Dean’s Seminar on Urbanization, Duke University, October 2014.

Invited Lecture, “The Terror of Decolonization: Exploring the ‘Goonda Raj’ in Pondicherry, 1947-1954,” Pondicherry University, Centre for European Studies and Department of History, 31 July 2014.


  • Recognized as ranking in the top 5% of all undergraduate instructors at Duke (medium sized class), Spring 2016
  • Duke University, Arts & Sciences Council Research Grant, 2015-16
  • Humanities Writ Large Project Awardee, Duke University, 2015-16 (Mass Incarceration and the Carceral State)
  • University of Minnesota Pre-Doctoral Diversity Fellowship, 2011-2012
  • Hella Mears Graduate Fellowship in European Studies, Center for German and European Studies, University of Minnesota, Summer 2010
  • Kim J. Mullholland Prize in European History, University of Minnesota, Fall 2009
  • Language Fellowship for Tamil Study in India, History Department, University of Minnesota, Summer 2008
  • Graduate Research Partnership Program Grant, University of Minnesota, Summer 2007