Ben Baer

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature
Director, Program in South Asian Studies
Office Phone
104 East Pyne




Ben Baer is associate professor of comparative literature, and currently directs Princeton’s Program in South Asian Studies. His research encompasses the diversity of literary and political figurations and concepts of Indigeneity, primarily in South Asia and the Americas. He is particularly interested in the overlaps, collaborations, and conflicts between Indigenous, subaltern, and working-class positions; Indigenous internationalism and the Fourth World movement; and the connections and frictions between Indigenous and Marxist thought. Baer’s recent book, Indigenous Vanguards: Education, National Liberation, and the Limits of Modernism (Columbia, 2019) studies the literary and political dream of practices of common education for all the future citizens of emerging postcolonial states — citizens who would in principle be equally enabled to participate in a nonimperial society and world. It examines the ways in which these practices were also imagined as indigenized (in the United States, French West Africa, the Antilles, Mexico, and India), with a range of complex and unpredictable effects. Baer has also translated, introduced, and published on Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay’s landmark 1940s Bengali novel Hansuli Banker Upakatha (The Tale of Hansuli Turn, Columbia, 2011). This novel is engaged with aspects of the complex history of India’s adivasi (aboriginal) peoples and the changing relationships of recognized status, land, and labor in Eastern India during World War II and on the cusp of national independence. The novel is a warning about the persistent production of subalternity in decolonization, and hence resonates with Fanon and others.

Selected Publications