I am Professor of South Asian History in the South Asia Institute (SAI) at the University of Heidelberg. The SAI a long-standing centre of excellence in South Asian Studies, now part of an exciting new Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS).
I am the author of A Revolutionary History of Interwar India: Violence, Image, Voice and Text (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015) and Pilgrimage and Power: the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008). My third book, British India, White Australia: Intercoloniality and the Empire, 1901-1947, was published by UNSW Press. It was shortlisted in the NSW Premier’s Australian History Prize.
I am also Editor of South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies; a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities and the Australia-India Institute. In 2019, I was Fellow at the National Library of Australia, supported by the Harold S. Williams Trust.
My latest journal article publication was in History Workshop Journal on revolutionaries and proscribed publications.
British India, White Australia
In the course of researching Indian histories, I frequently encountered Australian references in the archives. This, and the crisis following the attacks on Indian students in Australia in 2009, led me to look at Australia-India connections in the early twentieth century as part of an ARC funded project. I felt that the frequent suggestion that Australia and India were equal partners in the British Imperial order (and later, the Commonwealth), skated over a great deal of the historical tensions that continue to underpin the contemporary bilateral partnership, which I have observed directly in my engagement with key stakeholders. Interrogating the complex history of connections (or perhaps more appropriately, disconnections), between the two colonies within the broader framework of empire in the early twentieth century reveals the fissures that were laid as a result of race consciousness, ideologies central to both British domination of India and in the upholding of the White Australia policy. The resulting book-length narrative, British India, White Australia Overseas Indians, Intercolonial Relations and the Empire (2020), provides a pre-history to formal bilateral relations between India and Australia post-decolonisation.
The book can be ordered here.