- College of Arts and Sciences Term Professor
PhD University of Virginia, BA Swarthmore College
I began my career specializing in South Asian History, specifically relating to colonial India. In recent years, my interests have increasingly become more comparative and global, comparisons and connections involving India, China, and other regions of Asia as well as in relation to the rest of the world. I have a joint appointment in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, a unit of which I was the director between 2002 and 2010.
My early scholarship dealt with peasants and agrarian societies under British colonial rule. One outcome of that work, based on archival research and fieldwork conducted in the north Indian state of Bihar, was a book on The Limited Raj: Agrarian Relations in Colonial India (Berkeley, 1989). From the outset, I also sought to pursue social history through the study of law and criminality, my initial foray into that realm concentrating on the ways in which colonial states deployed legal and criminal justice systems to criminalize certain social groups. My edited volume on Crime and Criminality in British India (Tucson, 1985) grew out of those concerns.
My 1999 book on Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State in Bihar (Berkeley) situates subaltern history in the world of commerce and culture. It highlights the economic, social, and cultural transactions that ordinary men and women engaged in to negotiate the market economy of colonial India. By then, I was also taken with world history, concerns that resulted in an edited volume (with Jerry Bentley and Renate Bridenthal) on Interactions: Transregional Perspectives on World History (Honolulu, 2005). And currently I edit a Perspectives on the Global Past series with the University of Hawaii Press and co-edit with Bonnie Smith a multi-volume New Oxford World History series published by Oxford University Press.
I have two books in various stages of production right now. The first is a study entitled Empire of Convicts that narrates the laboring stories of Indians who were banished to penal colonies in Southeast Asia for their criminal and/or political activities. The second is an annotated translation (with Kamal and Ranjana Sheel) of Thirteen Months in China, a remarkable book written in Hindi by an Indian subaltern who helped suppress the Boxer Uprising in China in 1900-1901. My next book project is on the north Indian labor diaspora to countries in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia.
I teach South Asian and World History classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels in History and policy related classes in the Jackson School, most recently a Task Force class on global poverty and another on food politics. I also continue to be professionally active in the wider community, in the Puget Sound area as well as nationally and internationally, through participation in public events and service on various boards and committees.
Interactions: Transregional Perspectives on World History. Co-editors Jerry Bentley and Renate Bridenthal. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005.
Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State Bihar, 1765-1947. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 2000.
The Limited Raj: Agrarian Relations in Colonial India, Saran District, 1793-1920. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989; Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Crime and Criminality in British India. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1986,
“‘Near China beyond the seas far far distant from Juggernath’: The Mid-Nineteenth Ceentury Exile of Bhai Maharaj Singh in Singapore,” Exile in Colonial Asia: Kings, Convicts, Commemoration, ed. Ronit Ricci, forthcoming
“China and India are One: A Subaltern’s Vision of ‘Hindu China’ during the Boxer Expedition of 1900-1901,” in Asia Inside Out: Critical Times, eds. Eric Tagliacozzo, Helen Siu, Peter Perdue. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015.
”Mobilizing Convict Bodies: Indian Convict Workers in Southeast Asia in the Early Nineteenth Century,” in The Hidden History of Crime, Corruption, and States, ed. Renate Bridenthal. New York: Berghahn Books, 2013.
“Asian Studies Past, Present, and Future,” Asia Policy 9 (2010):21-25.
“Bandits and Kings: Moral Authority and Resistance in Early Colonial India,” The Journal of Asian Studies 66, 4 (2007):881-96.
“A Subaltern’s China: An Indian Soldier’s Account of the Boxer Uprising and the World in 1900-1,” in The Boxers, China and the World, ed. Robert Bickers. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, pp. 43-64.
“Travel Matters: An Indian Subaltern’s Passage to China in 1900,” Education About Asia 11, 3 (2006):12-15.
(with Peter N. Stearns), “Global Understanding in a Changing World: The Landscape Facing Educators,” The College Board Review 206 (Fall 2005):32-37.
“Of Lotahs and Men: Confronting the Body (Politic) in the Lotah Emeutes of 1855 in Colonial North India,” in Confronting the Body: The Politics of Physicality in Colonial and Post-Colonial India, eds. James H. Mills and Satdru Sen. London: Anthem Press, 2004.
“Indian Convict Workers in Southeast Asia in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries,” Journal of World History 14, 2 (2003):179-208.
"Whose Sati? Widow Burning in Early 19th-Century India," Journal of Women's History 1 (1989): 8-33. Reprinted in Expanding the Boundaries of Women’s History: Essays on the History of Women in the Third World, eds. Cheryl Johnson-Odim and Margaret Strobel. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992; and in Women and Social Reform in Modern India, vol. 1, eds. Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar. Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2007.
“Disciplining 'Natives': Prisons and Prisoners in Early Nineteenth Century Colonial India," South Asia, n.s., 10 (1987):485-505. Reprinted in Crime Through Time, Themes in Indian History, eds. Saurabh Dube and Anupama Rao. Oxford University Press, 2013
Other articles in edited volumes and such journals as: Comparative Studies in Society and History, History Teacher, Indian Economic and Social History Review, Indo-British Review, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Journal of Social History, Modern Asian Studies, and Peasant Studies.