Sheetal Chhabria (Ph.D. Columbia University) is a historian of South Asia whose research and teaching focus on the production of poverty and inequality. Her research has been funded by the Social Science Research Council, the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, and the American Historical Association.
Her first book, Making the Modern Slum: the Power of Capital in Colonial Bombay (University of Washington, 2019), won the American Historical Association’s 2020 John F. Richards Prize for South Asian History. The book shows how the wellbeing of the city–rather than of its people–became an increasingly urgent goal of government, positioning agrarian distress, famished migrants, and the laboring poor as threats to be contained or excluded. Other publications have analyzed the politics of colonial knowledge and the production of the economy as social scientific fact.
Her current research is focused on the imbrications of caste and capital in the subcontinent’s long history and the failures of decolonization. As well as academic articles sampled below, she has written for The Nation, Jacobin, and The India Forum amongst others.
Each of her courses focuses on issues of power in the crafting of narratives, debates on the means and ends of justice, and the dangers of complicity in the structures of power that reproduce inequality.
Samples of courses taught:
Contesting India’s Past
Globalization of Urban Poverty (cross listed with Economics)
Crafting Global Narratives
Racial Capitalism: A Global History
- Making the Modern Slum: The Power of Capital in Colonial Bombay (Univ. of Washington Press, 2019)
- "The Aboriginal Alibi: Governing Dispossession in Colonial Bombay," Comparative Studies in Society and History, October 2018.
- “Citing the City’s Poor: Commercial Sovereignty & Capitalist Integration in Colonial Karachi,” Journal of Urban History, 2018.
- “Capitalism in Muddy Waters: The Indian Ocean Economy in the 19th century” forthcoming, Journal of World History, 29, 3 & 4, October 2018.
- “Inequality in an Era of Convergence,” World History Connected, June 2016. (http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/13.2/chhabria.html)
- “Narendra Modi, Gender, and Governance,” in The Gendered Executive, Mary Anne Borelli & Janet Martin eds., Temple University Press, 2016.
- Review of Mumbai Fables: A History of an Enchanted City by Gyan Prakash, Journal of World History, December 2012.
- “Gujarat: Indian Imperialism on the Coast,” in The First Global Age, (1450 – 1770), World History Encyclopedia, by ABC – CLIO, February 2011.
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