Leading literary academic joins ACU’s Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences

Renowned literary academic, Professor Debjani Ganguly, has been appointed to Australian Catholic University’s Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.

Professor Ganguly joins ACU from the University of Virginia, where she was Director of the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures. She was previously head of the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University.

A literary and cultural historian, Prof. Ganguly has published in the areas of postcolonial studies, world literature, global Anglophone literatures and caste and dalit studies. However, she has also branched into exciting interdisciplinary work, encompassing the environmental humanities, digital humanities, informatics, human rights and refugee migration and global south studies.

Prof. Ganguly said she was keen to continue her work in the digital humanities space, tackling the big challenges posed by generative AI.

“The astonishing rise of Chat GPT in recent months and the implications for society of the widespread adoption of generative AI are staggering to contemplate,” she said.

“Computer scientists are trained to write code and to build neural networks and machine learning algorithms, but not to imagine their long-term impact – social, political, cultural, ethical - on human civilisation.

“Our lives have been radically altered with our daily immersion in the digital realm. We are talking about existential challenges here. It’s up to us as humanists and social scientists to generate knowledge and awareness about the implications of AI, social media, gaming, data extraction, and data sovereignty.”

Prof. Ganguly said she was excited to join an institution that valued the arts and humanities.

“I find ACU’s vision for the liberal arts inspiring,” she said.

“In an age that increasingly values techno-science over humanistic knowledge, ACU’s commitment to the liberal arts, to universal human values, and to an ethical orientation toward knowledge creation is of utmost significance.”

Prof. Ganguly said she was looking forward to collaborating with colleagues at ACU on a range of exciting new research.

“In my own field, literature, I look forward to collaborating with colleagues who work on oceanic and world anglophone literatures, on the novel form, and on questions of planetary crisis,” she said.

“For the past 15 years, I have led two humanities institutes and have had the privilege of convening and collaborating on a range of interdisciplinary projects with colleagues from around the world.

“I look forward to bringing my research networks in environmental studies, postcolonial studies, global and world literatures, techno-media studies, and digital/informatic humanities to ACU, and to building new collaborative partnerships with colleagues and students across IHSS, ACU and Australia, more widely.”

Professor Ganguly will initially come on board as a fractional appointment, splitting her time between ACU and the University of Virginia until 2025.

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