My current research interests lie in the field of gender in a global context, and I am writing a single volume global history of gender. I have also written on many aspects of empire, nationalism and post-colonial identity in India and Britain, including the politic of race and business in the late colonial era, the martial culture of Gandhian nationalism and the place of the Raj in Indian memory
I have recently been awarded the first AHRC Fellowship in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
I began my research career with a cultural study of the role of race and identity in the relationship between British and Indian businessmen in late colonial India. I have since written a general history of India from the late nineteenth century to the present, and have published articles on several aspects of the cultural and intellectual development of Indian nationalism throughout the twentieth century. I am currently writing a global history of gender, taking a long historical perspective: I am interested synthesising insights from cultural studies, literary approaches and the social sciences to offer an integrated analysis of how gender has evolved over time and space in the long duree, and of the interconnections between colonial, colonised and post-colonial perspectives in shaping current debates and controversies over the global gender order.
I contributed to numerous TV programmes including BBC’s ‘Question Time’ [1.2.01; 8.11.01; 26.6.03], Channel 4 News, ‘The British Empire in Colour’; I have also been a participant in Radio 4’s series ‘In Our Time’ several times, and was a consultant for Radio 4’s ‘New Elizabethans’ in 2012
I was a judge for the Samuel Johnson non-fiction prize in 2005, and have been on the judging panel for the Terence Reese prize for Imperial and Commonwealth history for several years.
I am a regular reviewer for the Financial Times and Prospect Magazine, and have written for The Times, The Guardian and The Independent
I would like to hear from potential DPhil students regarding in all aspects of South Asian history (though especially intellectual and cultural history) of the C19 and C20; also topics in global history, especially gender and the history of ideas
I currently teach:
Approaches to History
General History XVIII: Global & Imperial, 1750-1914
History of the British Isles VII, 1924-present
Further Subject, ‘Postcolonial Historiography: Writing the Indian Nation’
Special Subject: ‘From Gandhi to the Green Revolution: India, Independence and Modernity’
Indian Aristocrats, British Imperialists and ‘Conservative Modernization’ after the Great Rebellion
Comparing Modern Empires: Imperial Rule and Decolonization in the Changing World Order
The Indian Machiavelli: The Reception of the Arthasastra in India, 1905-2012
Past and Present: A Journal of Historical Studies
From Nehruvian Neglect to Bollywood Heroes: Memories of the Raj in Post-War India
Imperial Sites of Memory
Sergeant-Major Gandhi: Indian Nationalism and Non-Violent “Martiality”
Journal of Asian Studies
This article takes issue with recent accounts of the evolution of Gandhian ideas that have stressed his importance as a global theorist of principled nonviolence. It suggests that throughout his life Gandhi's writings display a preoccupation with ideas of martial courage and fearlessness; his stance might best be defined as one of nonviolent “martiality” rather than nonviolence per se. His overriding goal was not to proselytize for global “ahimsa” (nonviolence) but to shape the Indian people into a nonviolent army that could wrest freedom from the colonizers. It explains this concern for both nonviolence and martial attitudes by arguing that Gandhi's thought has to be reassessed and placed within several important contexts: the widespread global popularity of militarism before 1914; an influential intellectual critique of Western “materialist” values; Asian nationalist efforts to develop “indigenous” forms of mobilizational politics in their struggles against imperialism; and Indian thinking about caste (varna), which was central to Gandhi's thought and has generally been neglected in the literature. These contexts help us to understand Gandhi's complex and sometimes contradictory thinking on the issue of violence.