Ajay Parasram(he/his)

Associate Professor


Email: parasram@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-2167
Fax: 902-494-2105
Mailing Address: 
Department of International Development Studies
Marion McCain Building
6135 University Ave.
Dalhousie University
PO Box 15000
Halifax, NS, Canada
B3H 4R2

Office location:
Marion McCain Building 3043
Research Topics:
  • Colonial, Postcolonial, Anti-Colonial, Settler-colonial studies, and Decolonial options
  • Critical development studies and global history
  • modern/colonial South Asia
  • racial fragility and structural white supremacy
  • pluriversal sovereignty and the state
  • citizenship, multiculturalism, and migration


BA (Honours) Dalhousie
MA Carleton
PhD Carleton

I am transnational, multigenerational byproduct of empire and this is central to my research and teaching. Working broadly around the theme of the colonial present, I study structural forms of violence (e.g. race, caste, class, patriarchy) rooted or exacerbated through imperial encounters that have been sanitized of their colonial histories and normalized in the present day. At the moment, I have three primary areas of research:

  • The first is a book on the subject pluriversal sovereignty, focusing on 19th century Sri Lanka and its entanglements as part of the British empire
  • The second concerns settler-colonial studies and decolonial options grounded in life as an immigrant to Mi’kma’ki .This work involves recent and in-progress writing analyzing citizenship as a mode of colonization, as well as pluriversal ethics and values associated with taking Indigenous sovereignty seriously.
  • The third is a four-year SSHRC Insight Grant funded project studying experiences of racialization of Asian international students to Canadian universities, where I work as the Co-Investigator and project lead for the Halifax case study.

I am cross-appointed to the Departments of International Development Studies, History, and Political Science and am interested in working with graduate students interested in similar and related themes. I am also a Founding Fellow at the MacEachen Institute of Public Policy and Governance  (2019 – 2021) and served as the Chair and Program Chair of the Global Development Section of the International Studies Association (2019 – 2020). I teach courses on the colonial foundations of development studies and the state, M.K. Gandhi, postcolonial politics, and activism. In 2020/2021 I will be teaching:

  • INTD 4401 /4402 : International Development Studies Honours Thesis Seminar
  • INTD 2001: 3-week module on (neo)colonialism and development
  • HIST 3520: Empire, War, and Resistance in Sri Lanka (Also an IDS-Approved class)
  • HIST 4355: Becoming The State (Also an IDS-Approved class)

Academic Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Ajay Parasram, 2019. “Pathological White Fragility and the Canadian NationStudies in Political Economy 100/2: 194 – 207. Doi: 10.1080/07078552.2019.1646457

“Engaging Capitalism and Slavery as Decolonial Text” in John Munro and Kirrily Freeman (eds) Reading the Post-War Future: Textual Turning Points from 1944 . London: Bloomsbury Academic, 113 – 128.

With Jean Michel Montsion. “The Little Nyonya and Singapore’s national self: reflections on aesthetics, ethnicity and postcolonial state formationPostcolonial Studies 21/8(2018), 154 – 171.

“Hunting the State of Nature: Race and Ethics in Postcolonial International Relations” in Brent J. Steele and Eric Heinze (eds) Routledge Handbook of Ethics and International Relations. New York: Routledge, 2018 102 – 115

With Lisa Tilley. “Global Environmental Harm, Internal Frontiers, and Indigenous Protective Ontologies” in Robbie Shilliam and Olivia Rutazibwa (eds) Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics . New York: Routledge,2018. 300 – 315.

“Orbits of Influence: The Sino-Indian Waltz in South/Southeast Asian New Regionalism,” in Huhua Cao and Jeremy Paltiel (eds), Facing China as a New Global Superpower: Domestic and International Dynamics from a Multidisciplinary Angle .Beijing: Springer Publishing, 2016

 “Postcolonial Territory and the Coloniality of the State ,” Caribbean Journal of International Relations & Diplomacy 2/4(2014): 51, 79

Erasing Tamil Eelam: De/Re Territorialisation in the Global War on Terror,” Geopolitics 17/4(2012):  902-925.

Academic Blogs and Podcasts

With Bob Huish, “Colonialism and Neocolonialism in International Development Studies.” Global Development Primer Podcast Series, July 11, 2019.

International Development and Social Change ” Face2Face Podcast with David Peck, episode 378. Recorded April 27, 2018 at the University of Toronto.

 “The International Relations of A Tribe Called Red ” E-International Relations July 25, 2017.

 “We Nah’ Want No Devil Philosophy ” Symposium on The Black Pacific: Anti-Colonial Struggles and Oceanic Connections by Robbie Shilliam. The Disorder of Things: For The Relentless Criticism of All Existing Conditions. Feb. 1, 2016


Violence and Protest - June 10, 2020. Faculty of Arts and Social Science Preview Day, Dalhousie University. 

The Coloniality of Coronavirus – May 6, 2020 hosted by the Canada Research Chair in Global and International Studies & the New Brunswick Media Coop, online.

Strategies for Dismantling Racial Fragility in Public Institutions – Jan 27, 2020 hosted by the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance
Trumping Racism, Patriarchy, Ecocide.” - Jan 18, 2017 President Trump, Now What? Public Panel hosted by the Dean of FASS, Dalhousie University.

Galactic Sovereignty and Ontological Collision” – March 9, 2016, Carleton University, Ottawa.


Select Recent Media Publications

 “Love and Courage: Becoming Jagmeet Singh in Settler-Colonial CanadaTrinidad Guardian Sun. Dec. 1, 2019.

 “ Justin Trudeau’s job just got a lot more complicated ” The Conversation Oct. 22, 2019.

In a climate emergency, it’s morally inexcusable to let Scheer’s Conservatives govern ” Richochet Oct. 20, 2019.

 “Hindsight is 2020: Democratic Lessons from the 2015 People’s Partnership ” Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Oct. 19, 2019

 “Why Canada should adopt a coalition-style ‘Fellowship of Parties ” The Conversation Oct. 16, 2019

Truth-fullness: A letter from New Brunswick’s future # 6New Brunswick Media Coop July 12, 2019

 “Lest We Forget Empire ” The Nova Scotia Advocate Nov. 15, 2018.