Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College

Affiliated Faculty, Department of English
Courtesy Appointment, Law School
Faculty Director, University of Chicago Center in Delhi (2018–present)
Faculty Fellow, Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (2004–present)
Resource Faculty, Cinema and Media Studies and Comparative Literature

PhD'84 Australian National University

Mailing Address

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

Foster Hall, room 208 – Office
(773) 702-8373 – Office telephone
(773) 834-3254 – Fax

Field Specialties

Modern South Asian history and historiography; postcolonial studies; theory and history; globalization; climate change and 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 the Faculty Director, University of Chicago Center in Delhi, a faculty fellow of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, an associate of the Department of English, and by courtesy, a faculty member in the Law School.

He is a founding member of the editorial collective of Subaltern Studies, a consulting editor of Critical Inquiry, a founding editor of Postcolonial Studies and has served on the editorial boards of the American Historical Review and Public Culture. 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 served on the Board of Experts for non-Western art for the Humboldt Forum in Berlin and was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board to the Center for Global Cooperation Research (Bonn and Essen) for a few years from 2012. He is also an Associate in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney, 2018-2022.

Chakrabarty is the recipient of the 2014 Toynbee Foundation Prize for his contributions to global history and of the 2019 Tagore Memorial Prize awarded by the Government of West Bengal for his book The Crises of Civilization. He 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 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). 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. 

A book of essays has been published on Chakrabarty’s work: Saurabh Dube, Sanjay Seth, and Ajay Skaria eds., Dipesh Chakrabarty and the Global South: Subaltern Studies, Postcolonial Perspectives, and the Anthropocene (London: Routledge, 2020). A special issue on the 20th anniversary of Provincializing Europe has been published by Práticas da História – Journal on Theory, Historiography and Uses of the Past 11 (2020).

Selected Lectures, Presentations, and Honors from 2015

In 2022, Chakrabarty will deliver the Dewey Lecture in Law and Philosophy at the University of Chicago Law School. He will deliver the Balvant Parekh Distinguished Lecture in Baroda, India.

In 2021, Chakrabarty will receive an honorary doctorate from the École Normale Supérieure, Paris. He will deliver the “Counter Currents” lectures at the University of Cambridge, which will be published by Polity Press, Cambridge.

In 2020, Chakrabarty delivered the inaugural lecture at The Tagore Program, University of California, Berkeley.

In 2019, he was a Visiting Professor of History at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris.

In 2017, Chakrabarty delivered the Mandel Lectures in the Humanities at Brandeis University, which are to be published by the University of Brandeis Press. He also delivered the William James Lecture at the Harvard Divinity School, the annual History and Theory lecture at Harvard, and the Ato Quayson Lecture, University of Toronto. He continued as Dean’s Distinguished Visitor, The Australian National University, Canberra.

In 2016, Chakrabarty presented a keynote on “South Asian futures” at the University of Lund. He continued as Dean’s Distinguished Visitor, The Australian National University, Canberra.  He delivered the History Lecture at Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, where was a visitor to the Rachel Carson Center. He also lectured at University of Wrocław; Ludwig-Maximilan University, Munich; Presidency University, Calcutta; University of Paris; Lund University; and Ohio State; and delivered the keynote at the History Association Conference, Dhaka.

In 2015, Chakrabarty delivered the Tanner Lectures in Human Values at Yale University and the Arthur L. Throckmorton Lecture in History at Lewis and Clark College. He was a Provost’s Visiting Scholar at the University of South Carolina History Center, a GLASS Visiting Scholar the University of Leiden, a guest of the University of Barcelona, and Dean’s Distinguished Visitor, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Monographs and Books

Rethinking Working-Class History: Bengal 1890-1940 (Princeton, 1989, 2000)

Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, 2000; second edition, 2008)

Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies (Chicago, 2002)

The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth, c. 1900-1950 (Chicago, 2015)

The Crises of Civilization: Exploring Global and Planetary Histories (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2018)

with Ranajit Dasgupta, Some Aspects of Labour History of Bengal in the Nineteenth Century: Two Views (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2018).

The Climate of History in a Planetary Age (Chicago, 2021)

Edited Books and Journals

with Shahid Amin, Subaltern Studies IX (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 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: Oxford University Press, 2007)

with Bain Attwood and Claudio Lomnitz, “The Public Life of History,” a special issue of Public Culture (2008)

with Henning Trüper and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Historical Teleologies in the Modern World (Bloomsbury, 2015)

Selected Recent Articles

“The Human Sciences and Climate Change: A Crisis of Anthropocentrism,” Science and Culture 86, nos. 1-2 (January–February, 2020), pp. 46-48.

“The Planet: An Emergent Humanist Category,” Critical Inquiry 46, no. 1 (Autumn 2019), pp. 1-31.

“Between World History and Earth History: Anthropocene Time,” History and Theory, March 2018, pp. 5-32.

“The Politics of Climate Change is More Than the Politics of Capitalism,” Theory, Culture, & Society 34, nos. 2-3 (March-May 2017), pp. 25-37.

“The Human Significance of the Anthropocene,” in Bruno Latour ed., Reset Modernity! (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016).

“Reading (the) Late Chris Bayly: A Personal Tribute,” in South Asian History and Culture 7, no. 1 (2016).

“Climate and Capital: On Conjoined Histories,” Critical Inquiry (Fall 2014), pp. 1–23.

“Friendships in the Shadow of Empire: Rabindranath Tagore’s Reception in Chicago, c. 1913–1932,” Modern Asian Studies 48:5 (September 2014), pp. 1161–1187.

“Postcolonial Studies and the Challenge of Climate Change.” New Literary History 43:1 (Winter 2012): 1–18.

“From Civilization to Globalization: The West as a Signifier in Indian Modernity.” Inter–Asian Cultural Studies 13:1 (2012). French translation published in La Revue des Libres (January 31, 2012).

“The Climate History: Four Theses.” Critical Inquiry (Winter 2009): 197–222. Translated as “Le Climat de L'Histoire: Quatre Theses.” La Revue Internationale 5 (January-February 2010): 22–31. Also carried in Eurozine (October 30, 2009). Translated into German, Spanish, Hungarian, Malayalam, Korean, and Chinese.

Works in Bangla

A collection of essays written originally in Bengali was recently brought out in Kolkata, Itihasher janajibon o anyanyo probondho (The Public Life of History and Other Essays) (Ananda Publishers, 2011). Chakrabarty is also a regular contributor to Bengali newspapers and journals published from Kolkata.

Works in Translation

The Climate of History is being translated into German, French, Portuguese, and Korean.

Provincializing Europe has been translated into Italian, French, Polish, Spanish, Turkish, and Korean.  Chinese and and new Turkish editions are in preparation.

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). Other translations of Chakrabarty’s work into Spanish include La sfida del cambiamento (Italian; Ombre Corte, 2021) and Clima y Capital: La vida bajo el antropoceno (Spanish; Edición Mimesis, 2021). 

A Dipesh Chakrabarty Reader (in Chinese) was published in Shanghai (Nanfang Press, 2010). An assortment of essays was published in German under the title, Europa als Provinz: Perspektiven postkolonialer Geschichtsschreibung (Campus Verlag, 2010). He also has collections of translated essays forthcoming in Italian with Nottetempo and in Russian with v-a-c Foundation. 

Research Supervision

Chakrabarty’s current students in History and SALC work on a variety of topics: 20th-century Kerala, prostitution in British India, India-China relations in the 1950s, modern Islam in Bangladeshi history, youth culture in colonial Bengal, and the history of modern Bengali music.

Recently completed theses include work on epidemics in the British Empire, the history of the Sino-Indian boundary, the history of the idea of “popular sovereignty” in colonial India, Yunani medicine, the politics of water in Pakistan, India reform societies in nineteenth-century Britain, slavery in south India, environmental consciousness in Hindi literature, the East India Company in the eighteenth century, the Vaishnava movement in nineteenth-century Bengal, the history of the film industry in Bengal, the 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, 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, the history of the Anglo-Indian communities in India, the history of photo-journalism in Bengal, the evolution of the qazi and mufti in British India, and the intellectual history of Mughal India.

Lectures and Panels: A select list

“Tagore in Our Times and His” (Inaugural Lecture, The Tagore Program, University of California, Berkeley, February 22, 2020)

“The Planet: An Emergent Matter of Spiritual Concern?” (William James Lecture, Harvard Divinity School, May 1, 2019)

The Fifth Annual Mandel Lectures in the Humanities (Brandeis University, March 13, 14, and 16, 2017)

“Talk on Climate Change and the Humanities” (talk presented at Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, March 1, 2016)

Tanner Lectures on Human Values (Yale University, February 18-20, 2015)

“Rethinking Working Class: Postcolonial Perspectives on a Revolutionary Concept” (Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, October 29, 2014)

30 Years of Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Feb. 13, 2013

The Anthropocene Project: An Opening, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Jan. 10–13, 2013

“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)