Skip to main content

Ajay Kumar Batra

Assistant Professor of English

I am a literary and cultural historian working at the intersection of hemispheric American studies, slavery studies, and Black studies. My current book manuscript examines the convergences of abolitionism and communism that surface in African diasporic culture and politics in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Atlantic World. 


In addition to my book manuscript, I currently am working on article-length projects that investigate the following topics: (1) the use of enslaved children as fences on plantations across the antebellum U.S. South; (2) militant resistance to slavery and capitalism in eighteenth-century Antigua; and (3) the history of the concept of "the Black commune." In concert with my research, I teach courses on African American literature, hemispheric American literature before 1900, Marx and Marxism, critical theory, and prison writing. 


Prior to joining Vanderbilt, I was a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Southern California. I earned my Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 2021. I use he/him pronouns and my first name is pronounced like this: UH-jay.