Lara Choksey - Research Fellow

I’m a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre working on “Postgenomic Environments”: a project which brings literary and cultural studies approaches to questions of health, care, community, and environment in the genomic and postgenomic eras, as well as looking at uses of precision genomic medicine locally, nationally, and globally.

I’m a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre working on what I’m calling “Postgenomic Environments”: a project which brings literary and cultural studies approaches to questions of health, care, community, and environment in the genomic and postgenomic eras, as well as looking at uses of precision genomic medicine locally, nationally, and globally. I received my PhD in English and Comparative Literary Studies in 2017 from the University of Warwick, and my thesis investigated the writing of evolution, genetics, and epigenetics in Doris Lessing’s speculative fiction, contextualising this through the epistemologies and governance of living processes – ecosystem, nonhuman, and human worlds – in modernity.

Before my PhD, I worked as a journalist in India, writing on urban development, crime, and health for the Statesman newspaper in Kolkata. Lots of the questions I work on now around environment, public health, and government policy came out of stories I covered there. I have an MA in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths College, London (2011), and a BA in English from the University of Leeds (2010). I'm currently writing my first monograph, Narrative in the Age of the Genome: Genetic Worlds, forthcoming with Bloomsbury.

My work has become increasingly tied to practices of decoloniality. I’m a member of the Global Warwickshire Collective, a group of academics and community activists working collaboratively on a project called “Windrush Strikes Back,” which explores methods of investigating local histories with descendants of the Windrush generation in the Midlands.

I was over the moon and on the way to Jupiter after winning the British Society of Literature and Science’s Early Career Researcher essay prize in September 2018, for an edited chapter of my PhD thesis, “Peripheral Adaptation: Living with Climate Change in Doris Lessing’s The Making of the Representative for Planet 8.”

The fellowship at the Centre is a big highlight!

At the Centre, I'm working on speculative methods of approaching new (and old) narratives of complexity, interdependence, and influence, via current work on epigenetics and the microbiome. A particular interest I have is in the relationship between possible and speculative practices of precision genomic healthcare, and postgenomic research on environmental and non-genealogical influences on genetic expression. What new narratives does postgenomic era yield for the ways we consider and carry out care within and between communities, and how is this new paradigm registered through shifting conceptions of "community" and "environment"? I’m looking forward to drawing the vast range of methodological expertise at the Centre into collaborations in and out of the university on postgenomic narratives, attending to how the idea of the genome continues to shape the imaginative possibilities of lifeworlds in policy and practice.

Much to my grandmother’s disappointment, I did not pursue my singing career, which peaked at performing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” at the school Christmas concert.