Teaching and Learning
I have a wide range of teaching interests. My main interest is colonial and post-colonial India. I teach modules that explore subjects ranging from the nature of the colonial 'encounter' between Britain and India to various struggles for freedom in colonial India (i.e., not just the independence struggle but struggles over religion, caste, gender, and the form that the new nation-state should take - or even struggles over whether nationalism was a boon or a curse for India, and the alternative visions that were posited to it), and how the nation was fashioned after independence in 1947 through Bollywood films (and how Bollywood films, in turn, helped to shape visions of the nation).
My modules engage with an array of methodologies, historiographical approaches and theories, including cultural history (print culture, obscenity, censorship, and Indian cinema), gender history, social history, politics and the state, the history of violence, states of exception, sovereign power, governmentality, and globalisation.
I teach a second year module on "The Origins of the Modern World", which explores both the role of the global north and south in shaping the world in which we live. I am also the convener for the History Department's new first year module "HIST 114: The Global History of the Present". This module aims to address questions such as: How do we explain the global surge to power of right-wing political parties, as well as of new forms of popular resistance to such politics? What is fuelling the growth of isolationist politics, such as the Brexit vote, at a time when cooperation between nation-states is arguably more vital than ever before? What are the origins of protest movements such as Black Lives Matter, and what do they reveal about race and racism in the contemporary world? How do we account for the rise of global terrorism, and its appeal to generally young and marginalised men? What are the causes of climate change, and why does it seem to be disproportionately affecting the global south?
This module explores such contemporary issues and debates through considering the relationship between the past and the world in which we live. In light of the tremendous impact that modern imperialism and colonialism have had in shaping such a world the module focuses, in particular, on questions relating to race, empire and their legacies. By exploring some of the ways in which historical investigation enriches urgent contemporary debates the module aims to introduce students to a range of new ways of approaching the past, both in terms of subject matter and of new approaches to history, and to broaden students’ historical understanding of both western and non-western history (or what scholars refer to as the global north and south) and the myriad connections between them. In addition, therefore, to preparing students for the range of subject matter, geographical areas and approaches that they will be able to study in the second and third years of their degree programme this module also aims to make students better global citizens.
The History of Violence
Violence is a phenomenon that historians have long had a hard time grappling with – or perhaps a better way of putting it is that they have long avoided grappling with it. Historical works on subjects such as wars, colonialism, violent crime, terrorism, or even genocide are generally oddly silent on the nature of violence itself, its origins, and its impact on human minds, bodies and societies. Other subjects – such as violence against women, children or animals – have been largely relegated to historical subfields such as women’s history, or even to entirely different disciplines, such as women or gender studies.
The aim of my third year special subject module on 'The History of Violence' is, firstly, to interrogate violence as an historical force and to consider its causes, rationales, forms, impacts, and consequences. Beginning with an exploration of the transition, beginning in the eighteenth century, from violence to discipline as the chief mode of managing subjects, the module will go on to explore not only different forms of violence - such as war, conquest and colonization, genocide and massacre (including violence against animals), torture, terrorism, gendered violence, racial violence, and structural violence – but the impact of violence on individuals, groups, and societies.
The module also aims, secondly, to make us question why some aspects of the history of violence (or why some forms of violence, or violence against particular groups of people) attract more historical and popular attention than others – as in the case of the Holocaust as opposed to other genocides, such as the virtual extermination of indigenous peoples in contexts such as the Americas or Australia, or the deaths of as many as 60 million people in European colonies or semi-colonies in the late nineteenth century in state-fostered famines. This module will therefore be wide-ranging in geographical as well as thematic scope.
I also teach the history of violence, particularly torture and gendered violence, in other modules, including HIST 105/106 and HIST 520.