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Anna Ball

Anna Ball

Associate Professor

English, Communications and Philosophy

Staff Group(s)
English English, Culture and Media


Anna Ball is Associate Professor of Postcolonial Feminisms, Literatures and Cultures. She specialises in women's writing, film and art from the contemporary Middle East, and also works on questions of gender, agency and representation in relation to cultures of forced migration. She teaches widely across the fields of contemporary literary studies, postcolonial studies and gender studies, and supervises work at MRes and PhD level. With Jenni Ramone, she co-directs the Postcolonial Studies Centre at NTU.

Career overview

Anna completed an AHRB-funded MA (2004) and GTA-funded PhD (2008) at the University of Manchester, and has taught at NTU since 2007. With Jenni Ramone, she co-directs NTU’s Postcolonial Studies Centre. Working at the cusp of postcolonial, feminist, world literary and comparative literary studies and across various textual and visual mediums, she has published widely on questions of space, border-crossing, embodiment and agency, particularly within a Middle Eastern context. She also works extensively on cultural issues relating to women's contemporary forced migration, and in 2018-19, held a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for her work on the project 'Moving Women, Moving Stories: Rethinking Narratives of Women's Forced Migration'. She collaborates extensively with local and national cultural agencies beyond academia - particularly with the PAMOJA women's group at Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum, and in her role as Chair of Nottingham Refugee Week.

Research areas

Anna's research operates at the intersection of postcolonial feminist literary and cultural studies, and focusses particularly on the gendered politics of mobility, agency, activism and representation at stake within sites of political instability in the Middle East, and among its resulting global flows of forced migrants.  She works with literature, film and visual culture, and is particularly interested in Palestine as a site of postcolonial feminist cultural enquiry. She has published work on topics ranging from gender in Palestinian cinema to the portrayal of sexual violence in Arab women's writing and, in 2013, curated an exhibition and film season on Palestinian visual culture. Her monograph, Palestinian Literature and Film in Postcolonial Feminist Perspective, was published on the Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures Series in 2012. This work enabled researchers to approach Palestine from a humanitarian angle founded in a transnational feminist commitment to intersectional equality and cross-cultural identification. This work was reviewed as ‘...indispensable for those interested in Palestinian creative work and a significant contribution to postcolonial as well as Arab world and Middle Eastern Studies’ (Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 2014). Her research has also worked to establish Middle Eastern literature and culture as a site of legitimate postcolonial enquiry, and with Karim Mattar, she co-edited The Edinburgh Companion to the Postcolonial Middle East (Edinburgh University Press, 2018).

Her most recent research has focussed on the transnational feminist politics circulating around global cultures of forced migration, and the resulting complexities of voice and agency experienced by forced migrant women. In 2018-19 she held a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for the project 'Moving Women, Moving Stories: Rethinking Narratives of Forced Migration', and the resulting monograph, Forced Migration in the Feminist Imagination: Transcultural Movements for the Twenty-First Century is forthcoming on the Routledge Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Series. Her work in this arena has led her to engage extensively with refugee women's groups and refugee support agencies within Nottingham and beyond - particularly in her role as Chair of Nottingham Refugee Week. In 2019, she directed an outreach project with the PAMOJA Women Together Group at Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum that resulted in an interdisciplinary anthology of cultural reflections by asylum-seeking, refugee and 'irregular migrant' women entitled The World is for Everyone (London: Palewell Press, 2019 - co-edited with Camilla Reeve).

Since 2011, Anna has co-directed the Postcolonial Studies Centre at NTU. The PSC engages in a rich and varied programme of activities, through which it seeks to advance understanding of the significance of postcolonial thought, culture and activity both within and beyond the academy. In particular, the PSC has advanced 'Changing Wor(l)ds': an outreach programme dedicated to exploring anti-discrimination literary and cultural activism. Anna has worked collaboratively with the PSC team in order to curate festival, exhibition and publication activities on this subject.

Anna welcomes applications for MRes and PhD supervision. She is interested in supervising projects in postcolonial and / or feminist studies, particularly in relation to Middle Eastern culture, to questions of space, place and embodiment, and / or to narratives of refugeeism, displacement and activism. She welcomes interdisciplinary projects that work with literature, film and other forms of visual culture. Further information may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.

External activity

Anna is external examiner for the MA in Palestine Studies at SOAS, and has served as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Women's Writing; as reviewer for multiple presses and journals in postcolonial studies; as member of the Academic Working Group for the Public Programme at Nottingham Contemporary; and as Gallery Curatorial Board member for the Bonington Gallery, NTU. She frequently delivers public lectures, study days and film introductions at museums and galleries in the Midlands area and beyond, and provides press commentary on issues relating to women's forced migration in publications including The Conversation and Arts Professional. She is a member of the Postcolonial Studies Association.

Sponsors and collaborators

Anna works extensively with refugee support and cultural networks across the Midlands and beyond, particularly in her current role as Chair of Nottingham Refugee Week, which curates an annual festival involving 30+ stakeholders across the city. She has forged particular collaborations with the PAMOJA women's group at Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum, with whom she has worked to produce exhibitions, performances and an anthology of writing (The World is for Everyone, Palewell Press, 2019). She contributes to the cultural life of the city through public lectures and events at venues including the New Art Exchange (where she was Academic-in-Residence in Spring 2013), Nottingham Contemporary and Five Leaves Independent Bookshop. Through her curation of an exhibition of Palestinian video art (Presenting Absence: Moving Images of Palestine, Bonington Gallery, 2013) and as co-organiser of the Oxford Palestine Film Season (2013), she has worked with a number of Palestinian film directors, and with cultural bodies that support the Palestinian Arts. Through the Changing Wor(l)ds Programme run by the Postcolonial Studies Centre at NTU, she has also collaborated on the creation of cultural activist networking and festival events at the Galleries of Justice, Nottingham Writer's Studio and City Arts.


The Edinburgh Companion to the Postcolonial Middle East. Ball, A and Mattar, K, eds. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018.

Forced Migration in the Feminist Imagination: Transcultural Movements for the Twenty-First Century. Ball, A. Abingdon: Routledge, forthcoming 2020.

The World is for Everyone: New Writing by PAMOJA Women Together. Ball, A and Reeve, C, eds. London: Palewell Press, 2019.

Palestinian Literature and Film in Postcolonial Feminist Perspective Ball A, Abingdon, Routledge, 2012

Special Issue of Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 'Palestine and the Postcolonial'. Ball A and Williams P, 2014, 50 (2)

Communicating with Darwish's Ghosts: absent Presence in Dialogue with the Palestinian Moving Image. Ball A, Middle East Journal of Culture and Communications, 2014, 7, 135-151

Kafka at the West Bank Checkpoint: De-normalizing the Palestinian Encounter Before the Law Ball A, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 2014, 50 (1), 75-87

Impossible Intimacies: Towards a Visual Politics of 'Touch' at the Israeli-Palestinian Border Ball A, Journal for Cultural Research, 2012, 16 (2-3), 175-195

Palestinian Literature and Film in Postcolonial Feminist Perspective Ball A, Abingdon, Routledge, 2012

Between Awra and Arab Literary Feminism: Sexual Violence and Discursive Crisis in Nawal El Saadawi's Woman at Point Zero Ball A in Thompson ZB and Gunne S (eds), Feminism, Literature and Rape Narratives: Violence and Violation, 2010, 71-84, London, Routledge

'Here Is Where I Am': Re-Rooting Diasporic Experience in Leila Aboulela's Recent Novels Ball A, in Rerouting the Postcolonial: New Directions for the New Millenium, ed. S Lawson and J Wilson, 2010, London, Routledge, 118-127

Between a Postcolonial Nation and Fantasies of the Feminine: The Contested Visions of Palestinian Cinema Ball A, Camera Obscura, 2008, 23 (3), 1-35

See all of Anna Ball's publications...

Press expertise

Dr Ball is able to offer expert opinion on questions pertaining to postcolonial feminism, Palestinian literature and film, representations of gender in the Middle East, and cultural questions of gender and refugee experience.