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Sumathi Ramaswamy, Professor of History and International Comparative Studies

Sumathi Ramaswamy

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.


Contact Info:
Office Location:  Dept of History, 325 Carr Bldg, Box_90719, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 684-5764
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=031Gp5PtuVg

Teaching (Fall 2017):

  • HISTORY 123.01, PRIVATE WEALTH & PUBLIC GIVING Synopsis
    Carr 240, TuTh 04:40 PM-05:55 PM
    (also cross-listed as ETHICS 123.01, ICS 123.01, PUBPOL 177.01)
  • VMS 535S.01, CAMERA ASIA Synopsis
    Perkins 085, M 03:05 PM-05:35 PM
    (also cross-listed as HISTORY 530S.01, ICS 531S.01)
Education:

Ph.D.University of California at Berkeley1992
M.A.University of Pennsylvania1986
M.A.Jawaharlal Nehru University (India)1982
B.A.University of Delhi (India)1980
Specialties:

Cultural History
Global Transnational History
Comparative Colonial Studies
Gender
African, Middle East and Asia
Global and Comparative
Research Interests: history of cartography, South Asian visual culture, cultural history of India, philanthropy in India

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 these areas 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). I am also working on a pictorial monograph titled HUSAIN'S RAJ: POSTCOLONIAL VISIONS OF EMPIRE AND NATION (under contract to Marg, Mumbai). My work in popular visual history has also led me to co-establish Tasveerghar: A Digital Network of South Asian Popular Visual Culture at http://www.tasveerghar.net/. In recent years, I have also embarked on a new research agenda on the cultures and ethics of schooling and learning in colonial and postcolonial India. As a Fellow at the National Humanities Center in 2013-2014, I am completing a monograph titled TERRESTRIAL LESSONS: THE CONQUEST OF THE WORLD AS GLOBE, 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. Another 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

Current Ph.D. Students  

Recent Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Ramaswamy, S, Art on the Line: Cartography and Creativity in a Divided India, in Mapping the Transition from Colony to Nation, edited by Akerman, J (2017), University of Chicago Press
  2. Ramaswamy, S, Terrestrial Lessons: The Conquest of the World as Globe (2017), University of Chicago Press
  3. Ramaswamy, S, Husain's Raj: Visions of Empire and Nation in Postcolonial India (2016), Marg Publishers
  4. Ramaswamy, S, Artful Mapping in Bazar India, in Visual Homes, Image Worlds: Essays from Tasveer Ghar, the House of Pictures, edited by Brosius, C; Ramaswamy, S; Saeed, Y (2015), pp. 50-67, Yoda Press
  5. Ramaswamy, S; Brosius, C; Saeed, Y, Visual Homes, Image Worlds: A Guided Tour Through Our House of Pictures, in Visual Homes, Image Worlds: Essays from Tasveer Ghar, the House of Pictures, edited by Brousius, C; Ramaswamy, S; Saeed, Y (2015), pp. 1-13, Yoda Press


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