Sumathi Ramaswamy
Professor of History

I am a cultural historian of South Asia and the British Empire and my research over the last few years has been largely in the areas of visual studies, the history of cartography, and gender. My recent publications in this area include The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India (Duke University Press, 2010); and two edited volumes, Barefoot Across the Nation: Maqbool Fida Husain and the Idea of India (Routledge, 2010), and Empires of Vision (co-edited with Martin Jay, Duke University Press, 2014). My pictorial monograph titled Husain's Raj: Visions of Empire and Nation was published in 2016 by Marg, Mumbai. My work in popular visual history led me in 2006 to co-establish Tasveerghar: A Digital Network of South Asian Popular Visual Culture.   More recently, in collaboration with Heidelberg Sinologist Barbara Mittler, I have started  a comparative project titled, "No Parallel?: The Fatherly Bodies of Gandhi and Mao."  This project has been funded by the Humboldt Foundation which honored me in 2016 with the Annaliese Maier Research Award.

I am also pursuing a new research agenda on the cultures of learning in colonial and postcolonial India. As part of this agenda, I have recently completed a monograph titled Terrestrial Lessons: The Conquest of the World as Globe (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming in 2017), in which I explore the debates in colonial India about the shape and disposition of the earth in the universe and examine the course of science education conducted around the terrestrial globe as a pedagogic object as it enters Indian schools. 

A second project tentatively titled "A Strange Kindness? Giving & Learning in Tamil India," draws upon my experience as Program Officer for Education, Arts & Culture for the Ford Foundation in New Delhi (2002-2005). It charts the ethical, economic and political impulses that have governed private philanthropy directed towards the establishment of colleges and universities across Tamil India from the 19th century into the present.


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