Dipesh Chakrabarty

Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor
Department of History and Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations
Faculty Fellow, Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, The University of Chicago (2004 - )
Affiliate Faculty, Department of English

Associate Faculty, Department of Comparative Literature

Resource Faculty, Cinema and Media Studies
Courtesy Appointment, The University of Chicago Law School
PhD 1984 Australian National University

Foster Hall, room 208 – Office
(773) 702-8642 – Office telephone
(773) 834-3254 – Fax

Mailing Address

The University of Chicago
Department of History
1126 E. 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Field Specialties

Modern South Asian history and historiography; subaltern, indigenous, and minority histories; history in public life and public life; theory and history; decolonization; environmental history and the implications of climate change for human history.


Dipesh Chakrabarty holds a BSc (physics honors) degree from Presidency College, University of Calcutta, a postgraduate Diploma in management (considered equivalent to MBA) from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and a PhD (history) from the Australian National University. He is currently the Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor in History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College. He is also a faculty fellow of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, an associate faculty of the Department of English, holds a visiting professorial fellowship at the Research School of Humanities at the Australian National University, and an honorary professorial fellowship with the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He is a founding member of the editorial collective of Subaltern Studies, a co-editor of Critical Inquiry, and a founding editor of Postcolonial Studies. He is a contributing editor to Public Culture, and has served on the editorial board of the American Historical Review. He was one of the founding editors (along with Sheldon Pollock from Columbia University and Sanjay Subrahmanyam from UCLA) of the series South Asia Across the Disciplines published by a consortium of three university presses (Chicago, Columbia, and California). He also serves on the Board of Experts for the Humboldt Forum in Berlin.

For 2014, Chakrabarty will deliver the IWM Lectures in Human Sciences in Vienna; he has also been invited by the Cankaya Municipality (Ankara, Turkey) to give a public lecture. Chakrabarty has been invited in 2014 to be the Principal’s Distinguished Visitor at Queens University, Canada; a distinguished visitor at the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook University, New York; and a visitor at the University of Barcelona, Spain. In 2013, he was invited to be a Nicholson Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Previously, Chakrabarty has been, by invitation, a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2008-09): Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen, Vienna (2010); Lansdowne Lecturer at Victoria University, Canada (2012); Katz Professor in the Humanities, University of Washington, Seattle (2009); Hallsworth Visiting Professor, The University of Manchester, U.K. (2009); Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa (2007); distinguished visitor, Institute of Advanced Study, the University of Minnesota (2007); visiting professor, European Union Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania (2006); scholar-in-residence, Pratt Institute, New York (2005); visiting fellow, Max Planck Institute for Historical Sciences, Goettingen (2005); faculty, Seminar in Experimental Critical Theory, University of California, Irvine (2005); visiting research professor, University of Technology, Sydney (2005 and 2009); visitor, Center for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi (2005); visitor, Humanities Center, State University of New York, Stony Brook (2004); Hitesranjan Sanyal Visiting Professor of History, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (2003); visiting fellow, Humanities Institute, Princeton (2002); visiting assistant professor, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley, and has held other fellowships in Australia, India, and the United States.

Chakrabarty was awarded the degree of DLitt (Honoris Causa) by the University of London (conferred at Goldsmiths) in 2010 and an honorary doctorate by the University of Antwerp, Belgium, in 2011. He was elected an honorary fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2006 and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. He was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta (conferred on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Institute in 2011). In 2012, Chakrabarty was invited to be a member of the Scientific Advisory Board to the Center for Global Cooperation Research (Bonn and Essen).

He is currently engaged in completing two books to be published by the University of Chicago Press. They are provisionally entitled The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth and The Climate of History: Four Theses. The Duke University Press is publishing a collection of his essays, entitled History and the Time of the Present. His other publications include Rethinking Working-Class History: Bengal 1890-1940 (Princeton: 1989, 2000); Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, 2000; second edition, 2007); Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies (Chicago, 2002); He has also edited (with Shahid Amin) Subaltern Studies IX (Delhi: OUP, 1996), (with Carol Breckenridge, Homi Bhabha, and Sheldon Pollock) Cosmopolitanism (Duke, 2000); (with Rochona Majumdar and Andrew Sartori) From the Colonial to the Postcolonial: India and Pakistan in Transition (Delhi: OUP, 2007), and (with Bain Attwood and Claudio Lomnitz) “The Public Life of History,” a special issue of Public Culture (2008). Provincializing Europe has been translated into Italian, French, Polish, and Spanish and is being brought out in Turkish, Korean, and Chinese. Habitations has been published in Arabic. A collection of two essays translated into Spanish was published in 2009: El humanismo en la era de la globalizacion and La descolonizacion y las politicas culturales (Buenos Aires: Katz Editores, and Barcelona: Centro de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona, 2009). A Dipesh Chakrabarty Reader (in Chinese) was recently published from Shanghai (Nanfang Press, 2010). An assortment of essays was published in German under the title, Europa als Provinz: Perspektiven postkolonialer Geschichtsschreibung (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 2010). A collection of essays written originally in Bengali was recently brought out in Calcutta, Itihasher janajibon o anyanyo probondho (The Public Life of History and Other Essays) (in Bengali) (Calcutta: Ananda Publishers, 2011)


Research Statement

Chakrabarty's research is currently focused on three areas: he is finishing a book on the history of “historical truth” in colonial India, much of this is focused on the Indian historian Sir Jadunath Sarkar (1870-1958); he has also started a book project on the implications of the science of climate change for historical and political thinking (see his essay in Critical Inquiry, Winter 2009, for a beginning); and is working on two long-term projects: one on democracy and political thought in South Asia and the other on a cultural history of Muslim-Bengali nationalism.

Chakrabarty welcomes students in all areas of modern and contemporary South Asian history and in areas of his own interests. His current students, distributed over History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, English, Anthropology, and the Divinity School work on a variety of topics: the making of the Indian constitution; the sixties in Pakistan; low-caste politics in Bengal during the Partition; Assam tea-plantations; missionaries in Orissa; religious thought among Bengali Muslims in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; mass politics in Bangladesh; labor in Delhi, Muslim political organization in Hyderabad, Vaishnava movement in nineteenth-century Bengal, the history of the Anglo-Indian communities in India, the history of Bengali photo-journalism, and so on. Recently completed theses include work on the East India Company in the eighteenth century; history of the film industry in Bengal; history of housing in Bombay in the early part of the twentieth century; comparative indigenous histories of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand; the culture-concept in Bengali history; visual aspects of the rebellion of 1857.

Lectures given: a select list

“The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and the Birth of Historical Research in India” (paper presented at the annual B.N. Ganguli Memorial Lecture series at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, India, October 30, 2012)

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTbs9YZrjXM

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmO4O8Nf5-c

“Keynote: The Anthropocene Project – An Opening” (paper presented at the Anthropocene Project: An Opening at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany, January 10-13, 2013)


“HWK Talk on the Anthropocene with Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago and Bernd M. Scherer, Director Haus der Kulturen der Welt” (talk presented at the Anthropocene Project: An Opening at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany, January 12, 2013)


“In Retrospect: Subaltern Studies and Futures Past” (paper presented at the conference on Subaltern Studies: Historical World Making Thirty Years On, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, August 3-5, 2011)


“Indian Modernity: Once Colonial, Now Global” (paper presented at Demystifying India at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, September 29, 2009)


Publications: a select list


“Friendships in the Shadow of Empire: Rabindranath Tagore’s Reception in Chicago, c. 1913-1932” forthcoming in Modern Asian Studies

“The Climate of History: Four Theses” in Ken Hiltner ed., Ecocriticism: The Essential Reader (New York: Routledge, 2014)


“Verspaetung und Modernitaet: Subalterne Historien, wieder mal” (translation) in Ulrich Willems et al eds., Moderne und Religion: Kontroversen um Modernitaet und Saekularisierung (Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2013), pp. 183-201

“Subaltern Studies in Retrospect and Reminiscence,” Economic and Political Weekly, March 23, 2013, pp. 23-27

(With Rochona Majumdar) “Gandhi’s Gita and Politics As Such,” in Shruti Kapila and Faisal Devji eds., Political Thought in Action: The Bhagavat Gita and Modern India (Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 6787 (Reprint)

“Foreword/Calcutta: In Memories and Photographs” in Steve Raymer, Redeeming Calcutta: A Portrait of India’s Imperial Capital (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013)

“Subaltern Studies, Post-Colonial Marxism, and ‘Finding Your Place to Begin from’: An Interview with Dipesh Chakrabarty” in Gary Browning, Raia Prokhovnik, and Maria Dimova-Cookson eds., Dialogues with Contemporary Political Theorists (London: Palgrave, 2012), pp. 58-72

“Interview: On Climate Change,” RdL La Revue des Livres (Paris) in November-December 2012

“Le climat de l’Histoire: quatre theses,” Entropia: Revue d’étude théorique et politique de la décroissance, (Lyon, France), No. 12, 2012, pp. 39-49. French translation of “The Climate of History: Four Theses.”

Chinese translation of “The Climate of History: Four Theses” published in Beifang Luncong (The Northern Forum), No. 3, 2012, pp. 58-67

“Museums in Late Democracies” in Nicholas Mirzoeff ed., Visual Culture Reader, 3rd Edition (New York and London: Routledge, 2012)

“Community, State, and the Body: Epidemics and Popular Culture in Colonial India,” in David Hardiman and Projit Mukharji eds., Medical Marginality in South Asia: Situating Subaltern Therapeutics, (London and New York: Routledge, 2012), pp. 36-58

“Postcolonial Studies and the Challenge of Climate Change,” in New Literary History, 43 (1), Winter 2012, pp. 1-18

“From Civilization to Globalization: The West as a Signifier in Indian Modernity,” in Inter-Asian Cultural Studies, (Taiwan), vol. 13, No. 1, 2012; French translation published in La Revue des Libres, Paris, 31 January 2012

“Australian Lessons” in Brian Stoddart and Auriol Weigold eds., India and Australia: Bridging Different Worlds (Delhi: Readworthy, 2011), pp. 8-15

“Veraendert der Klimawandel die Geschichtschreibung? (“Does Global Climate Change Change History?” (in German), Transit, Journal published by the Institute of Human Sciences, Vienna, No. 41, 2011

“The Birth of Academic Historical Writing in India,” in Stuart Macintyre et al eds., Oxford History of Historical Writing 1900-1950, vol. 4 (Oxford University Press, U.K., 2011), pp. 520-536

“The Muddle of Modernity,” in American Historical Review, 116 (3), June 2011, pp. 663-675

“Can Political Economy be Postcolonial?” in Postcolonial Economies, eds., Jane Pollard, Cheryl McEwan, Alex Hughes (London: Zed Books, 2011)

“Romantic Nationalism and Its Ambivalent Legacies” (Sir Aurobindo Third Memorial Lecture, 2010)(Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training, 2011)

 “Belatedness as Possibility: Subaltern Histories, Once More” in Elleke Boehmer and Rosinka Chaudhuri eds., The Indian Postcolonial: A Critical Reader(London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 163-176

Korean translation of “The Climate of History: Four Theses” published in Global History (Seoul, 2010), pp. 348-386

“A Europe in the World? Twenty Years After 1989” in Comprendre: Revue de Politique de la Culture, 2, 2010, pp. 189-196. Also published in Europa Regional (Leipzig), 4, 2009

“Historia subalterna como pensamento politico” (Portuguese translation of my essay “Subaltern Studies as Political Thought”) published in Bruno Dias and Jose Neves eds., A Politica dos Muitos: Povo, Classes e Multidao (Lisbon: Tinta-da-China, 2010), pp 281-307. Also reprinted in English in Jacob Levy and Iris Marion Young eds., Colonialism and Its Legacies (New York: Lexington Books, 2011), pp. 205-218

“Bourgeois Categories Made Global: Utopian and Actual Lives of Historical Documents in India,” in Michael G. Cordin, Hellen Tilley, and Gyan Prakash eds., Utopia/Dystopia (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2010), pp. 73-93; Also published in Economic and Political Weekly, 25 (2009), 69-75

“The Legacies of Bandung: Decolonization and the Politics of Culture” in Christopher Lee ed. Making a World After Empire: The Bandung Moment and Its Political Afterlives (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2010), pp. 45-68; An earlier version published in Economic and Political Weekly (see below)

(With Rochona Majumdar), “Gandhi’s Gita and Politics as Such,” Journal of Modern Intellectual History, (Cambridge University Press) 7:2, 2010), pp. 335-353

“Empire, Ethics, and the Calling of History: Knowledge in the Postcolony,” in Sebastian Jobs, Alf Lüdtke eds., Unsettling History: Archiving and Narrating in Historiography (Frankfurt, New York: Campus Verlag, 2010), pp. 63-88; Another version published in Anand Pandian and Daud Ali eds., Ethical Life in South Asia (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2010), pp. 116-139

“The Home and the World in Sumit Sarkar’s History of Bengal,” essay published as part of a new edition of Sumit Sarkar’s book The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, 1903-1908 (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2010)

“Identities and Violence: Towards a Critique of Amartya Sen,” review essay in South Asian History and Culture, vol.1, No. 1, January 2010, pp. 149-154; Also published in Portuguese in Podemos Viver Semo o Outro? As Possibilidades e os Limites da Interculturalidade (Lisbon: Gulbenkian Foundation, 2009), pp. 39-54; An earlier version was published in Meanjin (Melbourne), vol.66, no.2, 2007

“An Anti-Colonial History of the Postcolonial Turn” (Greg Dening Memorial Lecture) (Melbourne: The University of Melbourne, 2009). Published by the Department of History, The University of Melbourne, 2009

Interview: “Keine Angst vor Kräften der Geschichte,” in Köpfe und Ideen (Berlin), 2009, pp.30-38

“The Names and Repetitions of Postcolonial History,” Foreword to Rachel V. Harrison and Peter A. Jackson eds., The Ambiguous Allures of the West: Traces of the Colonial in Thailand (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2010), pp. vii-xvii

“Historicism and Its Supplements: A Note on a Predicament Shared by Medieval and Postcolonial Studies,” in Kathleen Davis and Nadia Altschul eds.,Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World: The Idea of “the Middle Ages” Outside Europe (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), pp. 109-122

“The Modern and the Secular in the West: An Outsider’s View” (a review essay on Charles Taylor’s book A Secular Age), Journal of the American Academy of Religions, No. 77, 1 June 2009, pp. 393-409. Also published in German in Transit (Austria)

“The Climate History: Four Theses,” Critical Inquiry, Winter 2009, pp. 197-222. French translation: "Le Climat de L'Histoire: Quatre Theses," La Revue Internationale (Paris), No. 5, January-February 2010, pp. 22-31. Also carried in Eurozine, 30 October 2009. Translated into German, Spanish, Hungarian, and Malayalam

"Humanism in a Global World," in Joern Reusen, ed., Humanism in Intercultural Perspective, Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2009, pp. 23-36.

“Nation and Imagination” (chapter from Provincializing Europe) reprinted in Ira Livingston ed., Poetry and Cultural Studies: A Reader (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009), pp. 285-300

“From Subaltern Studies to Provincializing Europe,” (in Polish) in Porowania, (Poznan) vol. 6, 2009, pp. 263-270

“Aboriginal and Subaltern Histories,” in Bain Attwood and Tom Griffiths eds.,Frontier, Race, Nation: Henry Reynolds and Australian History (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009), pp. 55-70. 

L'Humanisme En Una Era Global/ Humanism in An Age of Globalization [Published lecture] (Barcelona: Center for Contemporary Culture, 2008)

"In Defense of Provincializing Europe: A Response to Carola Dietze" in History and Theory, vol. 47, no. 1, 2008, pp.85-96

"The Public Life of History: An Argument Out of India" in Public Culture, vol. 20, no. 1, Winter 2008, pp. 143-168. Special issue on "The Public Life of History" edited by Bain Attwood, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Claudio Lomnitz

"Greg Dening: A Personal Tribute," Postcolonial Studies, vol.11, no. 2, 2008, pp. 227-228

" 'In the Name of Politics': Democracy and the Power of the Multitude in India," Public Culture, vol.19, no.51, Winter 2007, pp. 35.57. Reprinted in Nathalie Karagiannis and Peter Wagner eds., Varieties of World-Making: Beyond Globalization (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007), pp. 111-132

"Remembering 1857: An Introductory Note," Economic and Political Weekly (Bombay), Vol. XLII, No. 19, May 12, 2007, pp. 1692-1695

(with Rochona Majumdar), "Mangal Pandey: Film and History," Economic and Political Weekly (Bombay), Vol. XLII, No. 19, May 12, 2007, pp. 1771-1778

"History and the Politics of Recognition" in Keith Jenkins, Sue Morgan, and Alan Munslow eds., Manifestos for Historians (New York and Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2007), pp. 77-86

"Das Wisssen der Weltregionen: Birgit Schäbler im Gespräch mit Dipesh Chakrabarty," in Birgit Schäbler ed., Area Studies und die Welt: Weltregionen und neue Globalgeschichte (Vienna: Mandelbaum Verlag, 2007), pp.252-258

"Recording the Past: How popular culture is shaping the future of history,"Biblio (Delhi), vol.10, Nos. 9-10, pp. 16-17. Translated into Malayalam in Pachakuthira, February 2006, pp. 55-57. Also published in Bengali in Aitihashik (The Historian)

"A Global and Multicultural 'Discipline' of History?", review-essay in History and Theory, Vol.45, No.1, February 2006, pp. 101-109

"Politics Unlimited: The Global Adivasi and Debates about the Political," Afterword to Bengt A. Karlsson and Tanka B. Subba eds., The Politics of Indigeneity in India (London: Routledge, 2006), pp. 235-246

(Interview) "Dipesh Chakrabarty: Quelle histoire pour les dominés?" Sciences Humaines (Paris), October 2006, pp. 34-36

"Positive Uneinigkeit: Interview mit dem Historiker Dipesh Chakrabarty zum Projekt der Subaltern Studies und der 'Provinzialisierung' Europas," Springerin, Heft 2, Frühjahr 2008, (Vienna), pp. 18-23. Translation of an interview originally published in Sciences Humaines, Paris, October 2006

" 'Quelle histoire pour les dominés?' Entretien avec Dipesh Chakrabarty" in Histoire globale. Un nouveau regard sur le monde, ed., Laurent Testot (Paris: Sciences Humaines, 2008), pp. 225-230

"The Fall and Rise of Indian Sports History," Introductory essay in The International Journal of the History of Sport [special issue on Sport in South Asian Society] Boria Majumdar and J.A. Mangan eds., vol. 21, Nos. 3/4, June-September 2004, pp. 337-343. Reprinted in Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present eds., Boria Majumdar and J. A. Mangan (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2005), pp. 1-7

"After History: Vergenheit archivieren, erfahren und zerstören" in Historische Anthropologie (Gottingen, Germany), 13 (1), 2005, pp. 121-135. German translation of "After History: Archiving, Preserving, and Destroying the Past" (unpublished in English)

"Romantic Archives: Literature and the Politics of Identity in Bengal" in Critical Inquiry, Spring 2004, pp. 654-682