Carnegie Mellon University

Marian Aguiar

Marian Aguiar

Associate Professor, Department of English- Literary and Cultural Studies Program

  • Baker Hall 145L
  • 412-268-3714


I became interested in global studies because, like a lot of members of the Carnegie Mellon community, I grew up in a global family.  My father, born in Kenya to an Indian family, grew up in the former Portuguese colony of Goa, India before he moved to the United States.  My mother comes from a Midwestern German-American farming community.  My family now lives all over the world, from Singapore to South Florida.  Perhaps because of my diverse background I like to teach courses like Global Masala: South Asians in the Diaspora, in which we look at literature and theory about the complex experiences of immigrants from the subcontinent.

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of English in the Literary and Cultural Studies Program.  My research focuses on the different forms of modernity that appear in the global context.  I am guided by the question:  What does it mean to be modern?  My forthcoming book Tracking Modernity: India's Railway and the Culture of Mobility (University of Minnesota, 2011) explores cultural representations of the modern by considering the imagination of railway space in colonial, nationalist and postcolonial South Asian contexts.  The train, I argue, is India's predominant cultural symbol of modernity.   Representations of the Indian railway comprise an enormously important symbolic history that includes numerous novels, short stories, poems, photographs and films.   As one looks at these images, what fascinates is not simply the plentitude of images of the Indian train but the way the railway as an imaginative object comes to represent the culture, forces and processes around it.

My new book continues to look at modernity, but in a very different context.  Arranged Marriage: Narratives of Global Love locates the phenomenon of arranged marriage within intersecting discourses that use notions of marriage to establish cultural, political and economic identities in India and its diaspora.  This new book was partially inspired by a course I teach called Global Women's Writing in which we debate the viability of global feminism.

As well as the above mentioned courses, I regularly teach on the relationship between culture and globalization and on postcolonial studies.  My background in African, South Asian, European and American literatures in English allows me to bring these rich traditions of global writing to Carnegie Mellon's classrooms.