Dipesh Chakrabarty

Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College; Affiliated Faculty of English; Resource Faculty of Cinema and Media Studies and Comparative Literature; Courtesy Appointment in the Law School
Faculty Fellow, Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (2004–present)
PhD 1984 Australian National University

Foster Hall, room 208 – Office
(773) 702-8373 – South Asian Languages and Civilizations
(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 and an associate faculty of the Department of English. 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, 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 non-Western art for the Humboldt Forum in Berlin and has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Board to the Center for Global Cooperation Research (Bonn and Essen) since 2012.

Chakrabarty is the recipient of the 2014 Toynbee Foundation Prize for his contributions to global history. He was awarded an honorary DLitt by the University of London (conferred at Goldsmiths) in 2010 and an honorary doctorate by the University of Antwerp in 2011. He was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Indian Institute of Management, 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.

In 2015, Chakrabarty will deliver the Tanner Lectures in Human Values at Yale University and the Arthur L. Throckmorton Lecture in History at Lewis and Clark College. He will be a Provost's Visiting Scholar at the University of South Carolina History Center, a GLAS Visiting Scholar the University of Leiden, and a guest of the University of Barcelona in 2015. Looking forward to 2016, Chakrabarty will present the Munich History Lecture at Ludwig Maximilain University, Munich.

In 2014, Chakrabarty delivered the Radhakrishnan Memorial Lectures at All Souls College, Oxford, IWM Lectures in Human Sciences, Vienna, the Wallace T. MacCaffrey Distinguished Lecture in History at Reed College, and the Faculty of History Lecture at the University of Basel, and a lecture on Marx at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Berlin. He was also the Principal’s Distinguished Visitor at Queens University, Canada. In 2013, he was invited to be a Nicholson Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. 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. He has also been associated for many years with the Australian National University and the University of Technology, Sydney.

Chakrabarty is currently working on two books, provisionally entitled The Climate of History (Chicago) and History and the Time of the Present (Duke). He is also the coeditor, along with Henning Trueper and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, of Historical Teleologies in the Modern World (Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming 2015).

His other publications include The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth (Chicago, 2015); 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). He has also edited (with Shahid Amin) Subaltern Studies IX (Delhi: Oxford, 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, 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, Spanish Turkish, and Korean and is being brought out in 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 (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). Chakrabarty is a regular contributor to Bengali newspapers and journals published from Calcutta.

Research Statement

Chakrabarty's research is currently focused on two areas: he is working on a book project on the implications of the science of climate change for historical and political thought (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: twentieth-century Kerala, colonial Punjab, the history of Ladakh, Yunani medicine, the politics of water in Pakistan, Muslim political organization in Hyderabad, India reform societies in nineteenth-century Britain, and the history of photojournalism in Bengal.

Recently completed theses include work on 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, and the history of the Anglo-Indian communities in India.

Lectures (selected)

Interview with Chinese Central Television (CCTV) on the Internet and Indian society.

"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 and Part 2.

"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 (selected)


"The Climate of History: Four Theses." In Ecocriticism: The Essential Reader, edited by Ken Hiltner. New York: Routledge, forthcoming 2015.

"Foreword." In Global Ecologies and the Environmental Humanities: Postcolonial Approaches, edited by Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Jill Didur, and Anthony Carrigan. New York: Routledge, forthcoming 2015.

"Anthropocene." In Fuelling Culture: Energy, History, Politics, edited by Jennifer Wenzel and Imre Szeman. New York: Fordham University Press, forthcoming.


The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Historical Teleologies in the Modern World. Coedited with Henning Trüper and Sanjay Subrahmanyam. London: Bloomsbury, 2015.

"My Life in History: Communing with Magpies." History Australia 11, no. 3 (December 2014): 194–206.

"Friendships in the Shadow of Empire: Rabindranath Tagore's Reception in Chicago, c. 1913–1932." Modern Asian Studies (April 2014): 1–27.

"Europa provicialisieren: Postkolonialitaet und die Kritik der Geshichte." In Jenseits des Eurozentrismus, edited by Sebastian Conrad, Shalini Randeria, and Regina Roemhild, 134–161. Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 2013 (reprint).

"The Lost Causes of E. P. Thompson." Labour/Le Travail: Journal of Canadian Labour Studies (Fall 2013): 207–212.

"Die Gewalt und die Zivilisation: Dipesh Chakrabarty im Gespraech" (interview with Gabriele Riedle). Geo (November 2013): 55–58 .

"Verspaetung und Modernitaet: Subalterne Historien, wieder mal." In Moderne und Religion: Kontroversen um Modernitaet und Saekularisierung, edited by Ulrich Willems et al., 183–201. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2013 (translation).

"Subaltern Studies in Retrospect and Reminiscence." Economic and Political Weekly (March 23, 2013): 23–27.

(With Rochona Majumdar) "Gandhi’s Gita and Politics as Such." In Political Thought in Action: The Bhagavat Gita and Modern India, edited by Shruti Kapila and Faisal Devji, 67–87. Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2013 (reprint).

"Foreword/Calcutta: In Memories and Photographs." In Redeeming Calcutta: A Portrait of India's Imperial Capital, edited by Steve Raymer. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013.

"Subaltern Studies, Post-Colonial Marxism, and 'Finding Your Place to Begin from': An Interview with Dipesh Chakrabarty. In Dialogues with Contemporary Political Theorists, edited by Gary Browning, Raia Prokhovnik, and Maria Dimova-Cookson, 58–72. London: Palgrave, 2012.

"Interview: On Climate Change." La Revue des Livres (November–December 2012).

"Le climat de l’Histoire: quatre theses." Entropia: Revue d’étude théorique et politique de la décroissance 12 (2012): 39–49 (French translation).

"The Climate of History: Four Theses." Beifang Luncong (The Northern Forum) 3 (2012): 58–67 (Chinese translation).

"Museums in Late Democracies." In Visual Culture Reader, 3rd ed., edited by in Nicholas Mirzoeff. New York and London: Routledge, 2012.

"Community, State, and the Body: Epidemics and Popular Culture in Colonial India." In Medical Marginality in South Asia: Situating Subaltern Therapeutics, edited by David Hardiman and Projit Mukharji, 36–58. London and New York: Routledge, 2012.

"Postcolonial Studies and the Challenge of Climate Change." New Literary History 43, no. 1 (Winter 2012): 1-18.

"From Civilization to Globalization: The West as a Signifier in Indian Modernity." Inter-Asian Cultural Studies 13, no. 1 (2012). French translation published in La Revue des Libres (January 31, 2012).

"Australian Lessons." In India and Australia: Bridging Different Worlds, edited by Brian Stoddart and Auriol Weigold, 8–15. Delhi: Readworthy, 2011.

"Veraendert der Klimawandel die Geschichtschreibung? (Does Global Climate Change Change History?)" Transit 41 (2011).

"The Birth of Academic Historical Writing in India." In Oxford History of Historical Writing 1900–1950, vol. 4, edited by Stuart Macintyre et al., 520–536. Oxford University Press, 2011.

"The Muddle of Modernity." American Historical Review 116, no. 3 (June 2011): 663–675.

"Can Political Economy be Postcolonial?" In Postcolonial Economies, edited by Jane Pollard, Cheryl McEwan, and Alex Hughes. London: Zed Books, 2011.

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

 "Belatedness as Possibility: Subaltern Histories, Once More. In The Indian Postcolonial: A Critical Reader, edited by Elleke Boehmer and Rosinka Chaudhuri, 163–176. London: Routledge, 2011.

"The Climate of History: Four Theses." Global History (2010): 348-386 (Korean translation).

"A Europe in the World? Twenty Years After 1989." Comprendre: Revue de Politique de la Culture 2 (2010) 189–196. Also published in Europa Regional 4 (2009).

"Historia subalterna como pensamento politico" (Subaltern Studies as Political Thought)." In A Politica dos Muitos: Povo, Classes e Multidao, edited by Bruno Dias and Jose Neves, 281–307. Lisbon: Tinta-da-China, 2010. Reprinted in English in Colonialism and Its Legacies, edited by Jacob Levy and Iris Marion Young, 205–218. New York: Lexington Books, 2011.

"Bourgeois Categories Made Global: Utopian and Actual Lives of Historical Documents in India." In Utopia/Dystopia, edited by Michael G. Cordin, Hellen Tilley, and Gyan Prakash, 73–93. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010). Also published in Economic and Political Weekly 25 (2009): 69–75

"The Legacies of Bandung: Decolonization and the Politics of Culture." In Making a World After Empire: The Bandung Moment and Its Political Afterlives, edited by Christopher Lee, 45–68. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2010. 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 7, no. 2 (2010): 335–353.

"Empire, Ethics, and the Calling of History: Knowledge in the Postcolony." In Unsettling History: Archiving and Narrating in Historiography, edited by Sebastian Jobs and Alf Lüdtke, 63–88. Frankfurt, New York: Campus Verlag, 2010). Another version published in Ethical Life in South Asia, edited by Anand Pandian and Daud Ali, 116–139. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010.

"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 1, no. 1 (January 2010): 149-154. Also as "Possibilidades e os Limites da Interculturalidade." In Podemos Viver Semo o Outro?, 39–54. Lisbon: Gulbenkian Foundation, 2009. An earlier version was published in Meanjin 66, no. 2 (2007).

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

"Keine Angst vor Kräften der Geschichte." Köpfe und Ideen (2009): 30–38 (interview).

"The Names and Repetitions of Postcolonial History." In The Ambiguous Allures of the West: Traces of the Colonial in Thailand, edited by Rachel V. Harrison and Peter A. Jackson, vii–xvii. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2010.

"Historicism and Its Supplements: A Note on a Predicament Shared by Medieval and Postcolonial Studies." In Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World: The Idea of "the Middle Ages" Outside Europe, edited by Kathleen Davis and Nadia Altschul, 109–122. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

"The Modern and the Secular in the West: An Outsider’s View." Review essay on Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. Journal of the American Academy of Religions 77, no. 1 (June 2009): 393-409. Also published in German in Transit.

"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, and Malayalam.

"Humanism in a Global World." In Humanism in Intercultural Perspective, edited by Joern Reusen, 23–36. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2009.

"Nation and Imagination." In Poetry and Cultural Studies: A Reader, edited by Ira Livingston, 285–300. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009 (reprint of a chapter from Provincializing Europe).

"From Subaltern Studies to Provincializing Europe." Porowania 6 (2009): 263–270 (Polish translation).

"Aboriginal and Subaltern Histories." In Frontier, Race, Nation: Henry Reynolds and Australian History, edited by Bain Attwood and Tom Griffiths, 55–70. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 

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

"In Defense of Provincializing Europe: A Response to Carola Dietze." History and Theory 47, no. 1 (2008): 85–96.

"The Public Life of History: An Argument Out of India." Public Culture 20, no. 1 (Winter 2008): 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 11, no. 2 (2008): 227–228.

"'In the Name of Politics': Democracy and the Power of the Multitude in India." Public Culture 19, no. 51 (Winter 2007): 35–57. Reprinted in Varieties of World-Making: Beyond Globalization, edited by Nathalie Karagiannis and Peter Wagner, 111–132. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007).

"Remembering 1857: An Introductory Note." Economic and Political Weekly XLII, no. 19 (May 12, 2007): 1692–1695.

(With Rochona Majumdar.) "Mangal Pandey: Film and History." Economic and Political Weekly XLII, no. 19 (May 12, 2007) 1771–1778.

"History and the Politics of Recognition." In Manifestos for Historians, edited by Keith Jenkins, Sue Morgan, and Alan Munslow, 77–86. New York: Routledge, 2007.

"Das Wissen der Weltregionen: Birgit Schäbler im Gespräch mit Dipesh Chakrabarty." In Area Studies und die Welt: Weltregionen und neue Globalgeschichte, edited by Birgit Schäbler, 252–258. Vienna: Mandelbaum Verlag, 2007.

"Recording the Past: How popular culture is shaping the future of history." Biblio 10, no. 9–10 (2006): 16–17. Translated into Malayalam in Pachakuthira (February 2006): 55–57 and into Bengali in Aitihashik (The Historian).

"A Global and Multicultural 'Discipline' of History?" Review essay. History and Theory 45, no.1 (February 2006): 101–109.

"Politics Unlimited: The Global Adivasi and Debates about the Political." In The Politics of Indigeneity in India, edited by Bengt A. Karlsson and Tanka B. Subba, 235–346. London: Routledge, 2006.

"Dipesh Chakrabarty: Quelle histoire pour les dominés?" Sciences Humaines (October 2006): 34–36 (interview).

"Positive Uneinigkeit: Interview mit dem Historiker Dipesh Chakrabarty zum Projekt der Subaltern Studies und der 'Provinzialisierung' Europa." Springerin 2 (Spring 2008): 18–23. Translation of an interview originally published in Sciences Humaines (October 2006).

"'Quelle histoire pour les dominés?' Entretien avec Dipesh Chakrabarty." In Histoire globale. Un nouveau regard sur le monde, edited by Laurent Testot, 225–230. Paris: Sciences Humaines, 2008.

"The Fall and Rise of Indian Sports History." The International Journal of the History of Sport 21, nos. 3–4 (June–September 2004): 337–343. Reprinted in Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present, edited by Boria Majumdar and J. A. Mangan, 17. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2005.

"After History: Vergenheit archivieren, erfahren und zerstören." Historische Anthropologie 13, no. 1 (2005): 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." Critical Inquiry (Spring 2004) 654–682.