South Asia, 2013

Research Interests

Modern South Asian history, British empire, legal and constitutional history, postcolonial histories/subaltern studies, Indian princely states, history of Travancore/Kerala, international history, interwar political thought, decolonization, international law, history of federation, and studies on nationalism and sovereignty


Decolonizing the Empire by Treaties: Travancore and the Federalist Alternative to the Nation-State in Late Colonial India


Sarath Pillai is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Chicago. His dissertation examines the currency of federalist ideas among the princely states in colonial South Asia in the 1920s through the 1940s. His research is in conversation with the existing studies on a range of fields: modern South Asian history, British imperial history, legal history of colonial India/British empire, decolonization, and theories of federation and sovereignty. His exam fields were Subaltern and Postcolonial Histories of South Asia, British Empire, and International History with a focus on decolonization, international law, and self-determination. He has served as an intern/teaching assistant in a few core sequences in the College of the University of Chicago: for a year in "Self, Culture, Society" (social science core focused on social theory) and for a quarter each in "Colonizations-II" and "Introduction to South Asian Civilizations-II." He has also taught modern South Asian history and European history at Hindu College and Indraprastha College for Women, both under the University of Delhi. He holds a master of studies in law from Yale Law School and a master of arts in history from the University of Delhi.


"Fragmenting the Nation: Divisible Sovereignty and Travancore's Quest for Federal Independence." Law and History Review 34, no. 3 (Aug. 2016): 743–82.
"Book Review: Harshan Kumarasingham, A Political Legacy of the British Empire: Power and the Parliamentary System in Post-colonial India and Sri Lanka." South Asia Research 35, no. 2 (July 2015): 272–76.
"Book Review: Caroline Keen, Princely India and the British: Political Development and the Operation of Empire." South Asia Research 34, no. 2 (July 2014): 183–86.
Book Review." Princely Modernity: A Mysorean Perspective," Economic and Political Weekly 48, no. 12 (Mar. 23, 2013): 33–36.
"Old Archival Laws, New Archives." Economic and Political Weekly 48, no.3 (Jan. 19, 2013): 20–22.
"Archives and Archival Consciousness: A Postcolonial Predicament." Economic and Political Weekly 47, no. 22 (June 2, 2012): 32–34.