2019 Incoming Grad Series: Aisha Anwar

by Daina Tagavi, Professional Development Peer
Monday, September 23, 2019 8:00 AM

The 2019 Incoming Grad Series continues, featuring backstories and fun facts on 8 students who are part of our most diverse incoming class in recent memory.

Aisha Anwar is an incoming Ph.D. student in​ ​English from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She received her undergraduate degree from ​UNC, where she studied ​English Literature and Global Studies. The interdisciplinary environment at UCSB drew her to continue her research as a Gaucho.

Read on to learn more about ​​​Aisha's life in ​North Carolina and about the business she runs!


Aisha was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, and she attended UNC Chapel Hill for undergrad. Aisha told us that she has always been drawn to the art of storytelling, and in college she began to explore photography. As an undergraduate, she began working to collect, preserve, and engage with individual's stories. From 2014-2015, Aisha curated two multi-media exhibits called Passion in Practice: Muslims of the Carolinas. She and her co-curator traveled around the state to photograph and interview 40 individuals about their identity, pursuits, and lived experiences in the region.

Shortly after completing ​her BA in English Literature at UNC, Aisha served as the Engagement Coordinator at Carolina Performing Arts for the Sacred & Secular: A Sufi Journey Season. This project evolved from a desire to contest the notion that there is any single narrative of Muslim identity or experience, a notion that is reinforced by oversimplified presentations of Muslims in the national discourse. Aisha was challenged to consider how storytelling, in its many forms, elicits deep, intentional listening and gives ​people the tools to turn audience members into witnesses and perhaps allies. As such, she worked closely with students and faculty to use art to challenge monolithic thinking about Islam.


Aisha was drawn to the doctoral program in English at UCSB because of its emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches. She told us that she is thrilled about connecting with renowned scholars across departments and taking in the beautiful campus. The friendly and supportive attitude of students and faculty alike really won her over.


Aisha's research interests include trauma studies, refugee literature, the subaltern body, and the intersection of law and literature. She is interested in examining the relationship between race, gender, and sexuality through two literary figures—monsters and ghosts.  From what political contexts do monsters and ghosts emerge? And how is the figuration of monsters in American literature haunted by the spectres of race, gender, and sexuality? 


Aisha loves to bake! As she put it, "Food is political so I find it useful to engage that history and to write new stories around it in my own small way." Aisha calls herself an avid procrasti-baker (a term she borrowed from a friend) and her  specialty is Earl Grey Cardamom cupcakes.

Aisha is a watercolor artist and the founder of Black Currant Ink based in Chapel Hill. She designs greeting cards, postcards, and prints that blend art, food, and social justice. She cares deeply about socially conscious and compassionate dialogue, so designing stationery is her small way of joining art with activism. Aisha started painting with watercolor in 2016 as a way to unwind from work. After some friends expressed interest in buying prints of her work, she started looking into designing and printing her own stationery. Shortly after, she started an Etsy shop and began placing her work in local stores!  

Welcome, ​​Aisha!

Be sure to subscribe to the GradPost and check back each day until the start of classes for the continuation of our Incoming Grad Series. Up next is ​​​Steven Gomez, an incoming ​student in ​Materials who ​comes to UCSB from Los Angeles and considers UCSB his dream school!