Anindita Ghosh

Anindita Ghosh

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Personal profile


Born and educated in India, and obtaining my doctoral degree from Cambridge, I joined the History Department at the University of Manchester in 2001 as a lecturer, having also served as a Simon Fellow here between 1999 and 2000. Since then I have been teaching courses on colonialism and nationalism in India, at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I have supervised several doctoral students to completion and held major grants. I have also appeared in a range of programmes on national and international TV and Radio.

Research interests

Very broadly speaking, I am interested in questions of power, culture and resistance. My published work so far has focussed on the social and cultural history of the book, and the making of indigenous identity in colonial Bengal.In my monograph, Power in Print (OUP, 2006) I study this in the context of the printing industry and shaping of literary tastes in Bengal. Contrary to the dominant academic belief that flourishing 'high' literatures succeeded in wiping out ephemeral and cheap prints in nineteenth century Bengal, I demonstrate that the latter survived with much strength and vitality. Such an argument also helps reopen some fundamental debates on the social structure of literacy and the Bengali bhadralok intelligentsia. It offers a reassessment of groups previously thought to inhabit the peripheries of literate society by highlighting the primacy of orality and specific reading practices in an Indian context, among others. The work is thus also a conscious intervention in the standard Eurocentric historiography on the book and reading cultures.

In extending my study on resistance, I have been also drawn into the realm of women's experience in colonial South Asia. In Behind the Veil (Permanent Black/Palgrave, 2007/2008)  together with others, I have tried to unearth a narrative of deeper and perhaps more enduring subterranean resistance offered by women in their daily lives. A lot of evidence exists to support such a proposal, some from unconventional sources such as women's songs, photographs and embroidery, but also from legal records, memoirs and other printed/published works. But this work is as much about power, as it is about women. The volume, inspired by both subaltern and gender studies, tries to highlight the complex ways in which power operates in oppressive structures, that makes any simple valorisation - and for that matter, theorisation - of such 'resistance' quite impossible.

In my most recent work, funded by a major grant from the British Academy, I examined the city of Calcutta in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, analysing its material cultures and social structures in the context of colonialism, technology, changing patterns of occupation and public spaces, crime, scandals and protest. The resulting monograph, Claiming the City: Protest, Crime and Violence in Colonial Calcutta, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016.

My next monograph project ‘By bomb and song: Revolutionaries, violence and popular patriotism in British India, 1900-1940’ explores the dynamics behind the popular appeal of extremists in India in the first half of the twentieth century, studying regimes of both violence and the cultural productions associated with the cult – songs, performance and pamphlets - available in the popular cultural realm.


Doctoral supervision

Supervision areas for Doctoral Studies 

While my published work so far relates to print, urban history, popular culture and social identity in colonial India, I am happy to supervise PhD students keen to research other themes in an imperial and/or colonial context. My most recent research is concerned with urban cultures and colonial cities.

PhD Supervision


1. Gavin Rand (2000-04) (funded by ESRC)
Martial-ing the Raj: Colonial governmentality and the Indian army, c. 1857-1914

2. Bidisha Ray (2003-08) (funded by ORS)
Masculinity and popular culture in Bengal

3. Aminur Rahman (2005-09) (funded by ORS and the Government of Bangladesh)
Indians travelling to Imperial Britain

4. Nadeem Noor (2005-2010) (funded by ORS) Gender and Alternative Gender Relations in Mughal South Asia, c. 1526-1707)

5. Vijaya Mandala (2005-11) (funded by the Dorothy Hodgkins fund)
Big-game hunting in colonial India

6. Tugba Alver (2011-2016) (funded by the Turkish government) Women's periodicals in the Ottoman period

7. Sarah Newport (2012-2018) Writing Otherness: Uses of History and Mythology in literary representations of Hijras in India

8. Rachatapong Malithong (2015-19) (funded by the Government of Thailand) The press, making of news and the Anglo-Burmese wars

9. Omar Ahmed (2015-19) (AHRC funded) Rupture in Bengali Cinema



Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Chair BASAS, British Association for South Asian Studies

1 Nov 20201 Nov 2023

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Creative Manchester


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