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  • NYS Writers Institute

Rebuilding the Republic: "The Multicultural Foundations of American Society"

“I had just grown up in this family with all its complexities and its diasporas…. It’s only as an adult that I realize how wild it is.”

— Sharada Balachandran Orihuela, on memories of her first cousin, Vice President Kamala Harris, and her extended family in Maryland Today, Feb. 3, 2021.

Sharada Balachandran Orihuela is the author of Fugitives, Smugglers, and Thieves: Piracy and Personhood in American Literature (2018), a book that investigates the multiracial and multicultural world of pirates, escaped slaves, counterfeiters, illegal migrants and black market traders as they are portrayed in 18th and 19th century American writings.


A first cousin to Kamala Harris, and a member of a large multiracial family, Balachandran Orihuela was born in Mexico to a Mexican mother and Indian father, and spent her childhood moving frequently between Mexico, India and the U.S. She currently serves as Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland and is working on her next book-length monograph, which will examine narconarratives, and the international discourse on terrorism and drug prohibition in contemporary literature of the Americas.

Christopher Pastore, Undergraduate Director of the UAlbany History Department, is a social and cultural historian of early America and the Atlantic world, and the author of Between Land and Sea: The Atlantic Coast and the Transformation of New England (2014).

Cosponsored by the UAlbany History Department

You may purchase these books at the local, independent Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

  • Fugitives, Smugglers, and Thieves: Piracy and Personhood in American Literature

  • Between Land and Sea: The Atlantic Coast and the Transformation of New England

More links:

Most Americans know Kamala Harris as VP-elect. For this UMD professor, she’s family. Jonathan Tercasio, The Diamondback, December 10, 2020.

Sharada Balachandran Orihuela's profile page at the University of Maryland

Christopher Pastore's website www.christopherpastore.com / On Twitter twitter.com/chrislpastore / and his profile page at the University at Albany