Loyola University Chicago

Department of English


Aqdas Aftab

Aqdas Aftab

Assistant Professor, Affiliate in Women's Studies and Gender Studies

  • Office Location: Crown Center 427
  • Phone Number: 773.508.2246
  • E-mail: aaftab@luc.edu


My research interests lie at the intersection of postcolonial literatures, decolonial thought, transgender studies, and Black and Dalit studies. My work explores how the imposition of the modern gender binary is central to the processes of racialization and colonialism. I am particularly interested in the quotidian and affective politics of trans of color life. My first book project, tentatively titled Worlding Within: Trans Speculations Beyond the Human reimagines trans of color life beyond the limitations of liberal humanism. This book project examines narratives about lived conditions positioned as subhuman to theorize decolonial ways of conceptualizing trans of color life. Arguing against liberal humanism’s emphasis on the individualized trans body’s visibility, I provide ways of reading that focus on interiority as a strategy to evade the cis gaze of coloniality, subsequently reconceptualizing trans of color life as speculative, spiritual, and relational.

I strive to bring decolonial world-making into the space of the classroom as well. I practice an anti-oppression pedagogy, bringing attention to issues of power and privilege, and building a culture of mutual care and accountability in the classroom. Having learned from Black, Indigenous, and other women of color feminist scholars, I believe that the personal is political is pedagogical; therefore, I curate syllabi that intentionally center historically marginalized writers and scholars. I am particularly invested in teaching my students to analyze aesthetic form, genre and narrative in relation to interlocking systems of power. 


  • BA, English Literature, Smith College (2014)
  • MA, Literary and Cultural Studies, Carnegie Mellon University (2016)
  • PhD, English Literature with a Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of Maryland (2021)

Program Areas

  • Postcolonial Literatures
  • Transgender Literatures
  • Queer and Trans Studies
  • Race and Caste Studies


Research Interests

  • Trans Studies
  • Queer of Color Critique
  • Decolonial Thought
  • Transnational, Migration and Diaspora Studies
  • Black Studies
  • Dalit Studies
  • Interracial Solidarity
  • Prison Abolition and Transformative Justice

Selected Publications

Academic Writing:

  • “Diaspora Fiction as Trans Literature.” The Routledge Handbook of Trans Literature. Routledge, April 2024.
  • “TransQueer Negotiations and Decolonial Space-Making in Tsisi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions.” ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, 55.1, 2024, 105-127.
  • “Ecstatic Kinship and Trans Interiority in Jackie Kay’s Trumpet.” Queer Kinship: Race, Sex, Belonging, Form. Ed. Elizabeth Freeman and Tyler Bradway, Duke University Press, 2022.
  • “Racialized Femininities.” The SAGE Encyclopedia of Trans Studies. Ed. Abbie Goldberg and Genny Beemyn, SAGE, 2021.
  • “Book Review: Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life by Tavia Nyong’o.” Women’s Studies, 48.6, Fall 2019, 649-651. (Review)
  • "The Sexual Subaltern in Court: The Queer and Inter-Caste Obscenities of Ismat Chughtai's" Lihaaf" and Saadat Hasan Manto's" Boo"." Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies 7.1 (2019): 29-46.

Creative and Public Writing:

  • The Racialization of ‘Transamorous’ Desire: A Decolonial Critique.” Transgender Studies Quarterly Now, Summer 2020.
  • “Queering Islamophobia: The Homonationalism of the Muslim Ban.” Bitch Media, 2017.
  • “Reading Adichie Today: On Racism and Transphobia in Feminism.” Bitch Media, 2017.
  • “Appropriating Audre: On the Need to Locate the Oppressor Within Us.” Bitch Media, 2017.
  • “Visibility or Complicity? Western Capitalism Gets its Hands on the Hijab.” Bitch MagazineThe Invisibility Issue, Fall 2017.
  • "Percussion." The Margins. Asian American Writers' Workshop. 2022.
  • "To Love Freely." Smoke and Mold Journal. 2022.
  • “Quiet.” Strange Horizons, Fall 2020.
    • Spanish Translation by Asociación Cultural Crononauta. Ed. Carla Battaler, 2021.
  • “All Death.” The World Within Us: An Anthology of South Asian Queer Poetry. Ed. Aditi Angiras and Akhil Khatyal, HarperCollins, 2020.
  • “Nuclear Disassociations.” Transcendent 4. The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction 2018. Ed. Bogi Tukacs, Lethe Press, 2019.
    • Italian Translation in Il Mio Genere è Secretato (My Gender is Classified), Future Fiction. Ed. Francesco Verso and Martina Del Romano, 2021, Forthcoming.