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Professor of Indian and Colonial History, University of Liverpool

I am rather a global vagabond; I was raised in both the U.K. and U.S. and received my Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. I thereafter taught at institutions in the U.S., Ireland and Canada, and held research fellowships in India and Australia. I have also traveled widely. I joined the University of Liverpool in 2013 and am happy to have found a place in which I am keen to stay put. I speak Hindi and am a lover of most things Indian - especially Indian food, clothing (the louder the better) and Indian cinema (especially old films from the '50s and '60s).

My early research was comparative in scope; it aimed both to explore the cultural power of colonialism and the differing nature of colonialism in two different types of colonies (namely an 'exploitation' colony such as India and settler colonies such as Australia) and their imperial metropole (namely Britain). While my focus was primarily on cultural history - particularly attempts to regulate 'obscene' texts and images - I was also interested in how colonial states operated. Such interests drew me to the study of theories of power (particularly Foucault's concept of governmentality), modernity and globalization.

More recently I have developed an interest in violence, particularly in the ways in which colonial regimes - especially in India - employed sovereign power, or the use of force, to enhance and maintain their authority, and the ways this intersected with other forms of power (including governmentality and - to draw from another Foucaultian concent - biopower). I am particularly interested in the impact of such forms of violence on Indian bodies and minds. I am exploring these interests through a project on torture in colonial India, which examines the ways in which torture was carried out by colonized peoples on each other's bodies for the benefit of a European colonial regime. My current research is therefore extremely interdisciplinary and draws together a variety of theoretical and methodological strands, including scholarship on: pain and trauma; gender and masculinity; the body and embodied violence; interpersonal violence; violence and spectacle; the state and sovereign power; law; biopolitics and governmentality; and necropolitics and bare life.


  • –present
    Senior Lecturer in Indian and Colonial History, University of Liverpool