Monica Mody: ‘I Thought Memory Would Be Easy’: Academic and Poetic Borderlands as Decolonial Projects of Recovery


In this episode, we meet East-West Psychology PhD, Monica Mody, who is a writer, poet, and educator aligned with earth-based and decolonial feminist perspectives. Monica speaks about her approaches to writing, scholarship, and poetry as a cross-genre, transdisciplinary practitioner, and we discuss her dissertation, titled "Claiming Voice, Vitality, and Authority in Post-secular South Asian Borderlands: A Critical Hermeneutics and Autohistoria/teoría for Decolonial Feminist Consciousness," which received the 2020 Kore Award for Best Dissertation in Women and Mythology awarded by the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology. Monica speaks about the importance of tracing and reconstructing her motherline story and how her creative process helps to tap into the voice of her ancestral memory and the voices of the ancestresess. She shares two of her poems and we discuss the role of poetics in her academic writing and what the intersection of knowledge and creativity looks like to her. We end with discussing Monica’s ideas about what she calls earth-ecstatic spirituality.

Monica Mody is the author of Kala Pani (1913 Press), the forthcoming Bright Parallel (Copper Coin), and three chapbooks including Ordinary Annals (above/ground press). Her academic writing can be found in The Land Remembers Us: Women, Myth, and Nature, and Integral Review: A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis. Her poems appear in anthologies including The Penguin Book of Modern Indian Poets, Future Library: Contemporary Indian Writing, Witness: The Red River Book of Poetry of Dissent, and &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing. Her poetry has also been published in Poetry International, Indian Quarterly, Almost Island, Boston Review, and other literary journals.

Besides a Ph.D. in East-West Psychology, Monica holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame, and a B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) from the National Law School of India University. Among the awards she has received are the Sparks Prize Fellowship (Notre Dame), the Zora Neale Hurston Award (Naropa), and the Toto Award for Creative Writing. Monica has presented her work widely, including at the Parliament of World Religions, Symposia of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology, American Academy of Religion Western Region, Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conferences, and Oakland Summer School. She has been invited to read her poetry at events including Poetry with Prakriti, Bengaluru Poetry Festival, the Trauma and Catharsis Symposium on Performing the Asian Avant-Garde, and the Asian American Writers' Workshop—as well as been a part of art shows including Rites of Passage: 20/20 Vision. Monica was born in Ranchi, India, and currently lives in San Francisco, unceded Ramaytush Ohlone territory. She teaches as an adjunct professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

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Stephen Julich and Jonathan Kay

Stephen Julich has worked as an adjunct instructor in History and Anthropology at the City College of New York, as a lecturer in Jungian Studies at the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles, and as an adjunct instructor at the California Institute of Integral Studies where he has taught classes on ensouled writing and Western Esotericism.

Jonathan Kay is a professional musician, and is currently a PhD student in the department of East-West Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco under the mentorship of Dr. Debashish Banerji.

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