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Aparna Vaidik

Professor of History, Ashoka University

Ph.D. Jawaharlal Nehru University

Aparna Vaidik is historian of South Asia. She has previously taught at Georgetown University, Washington DC and University of Delhi and was educated at JNU, University of Cambridge, and St. Stephen’s College. She has to her credit a diverse set of monographs, journal articles and book chapters in volumes on environmental history, labour history, history of Indian nationalism and revolutionism, the history of the Indian Ocean and its islands and psychoanalytical history. Her most recent monograph is Waiting for Swaraj: Inner Lives of Indian Revolutionaries (Cambridge University Press, 2021). Her first monograph was Imperial Andamans: Colonial Encounter and Island History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and her book Revolutionaries on Trial: Sedition, Betrayal and Martyrdom (Aleph, 2022) is forthcoming. She has also written a work of a creative non-fiction titled My Son’s Inheritance: A Secret History of Lynching and Blood Justice in India (Aleph 2020). Currently she is working on a book project on the contemporary history of India titled ‘The Republic’s Preamble’ (Aleph, 2024). Underlying her various intellectual interests is an abiding fascination with the historian’s craft, specifically, historiography, theory and the historical method. 

She has won two major international grants – the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the British Academy Grant for a Public History project, apart from several other grants, fellowships, and awards from Indian Council for Historical Research, Georgetown University and the Charles Wallace Trust.

Other than research, pedagogical innovation, curricular design, research supervision and mentorship of graduate and undergraduate students are the defining aspects of her academic and intellectual life. She is also involved in various Public History projects. These include membership of the Milli Consortium, a group of individuals and communities interested in nurturing and protecting archives; working as a consultant on a project run by the Delhi Art Gallery for curating a public exhibition at the New Delhi’s Red Fort ‘March to Freedom’; and serving as an expert for historical ethnography for ‘Agra-Lahore Heritage Project’ of the American Institute of Indian Studies.

Research articles in journals:

‘Rewriting World History in the Classroom: Pedagogical Dispatches from India, Journal of Asian World History (co-authored with Gwen Kelly). Forthcoming.

‘History of a Renegade Revolutionary: Revolutionism and Betrayal in British India’, Postcolonial Studies, 2013.

‘Settling the Convict: Matrimony and Family in the Andamans’, Studies in History, JNU, 2006.

Research articles in edited volumes:

‘Dis-ordering Global Histories: Spatio-Temporal Scales of Historical Writing’ in Suchandra Ghosh and Rila Mukherjee (ed.), Title TBA, Asiatic Society of India, Kolkata. Forthcoming.

‘The Island Metaphor and Historiographical Warp: Writing Pre-modern History of the Andamans’, in Kenneth Hall (ed.), Mobility and Circulation in the Eastern Indian Ocean, Primus Books. Forthcoming.

‘Was Bhagat Singh an ‘Internationalist’? Resistance and Identity in Global Age’, in Vivek Sachdeva (ed.), Identity Assertions and Conflicts in South Asia, Routledge. Forthcoming.

‘History of a renegade revolutionary: revolutionism and betrayal in colonial India’, in Revolutionary Lives in South Asia: Acts and Afterlives of Anticolonial Political Action, edited by Kama Maclean and J. Daniel Elam, Routledge, UK[Reprint], 2014

‘The Wild Andamans: Island Imageries and Colonial Encounter’ in Deepak Kumar et al, Nature and the Orient, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, 2010.

‘Working an Island Colony: Convict Labour Regime in the Colonial Andamans (1858-1921)’, in Marcel ven der Linden (ed.), Towards Global Labour History, Tulika, 2009.

‘Sazaa-i-Kalapani’ in M.P. Singh and Rekha Awasthi, eds., 1857: Bagawat Ke Daur ka Itihas, Granth Shilpi [in Hindi], 2009.

Review Essays:

Clare Anderson et al, New Histories of the Andaman Islands in American Historical Review, 2018.

Sunil Amrith, Crossing the Bay of Bengal, in American Historical Review, 2014.

Clare Anderson, Convicts in the Indian Ocean, in Studies in History, 2004.

Ian J. Barrow, Making History, Drawing Territory, in Indian Historical Review, 2004.

Partha Chatterjee (ed.), History and Present, in Seminar, a special issue on Rewriting History, 2003.

Christopher Key Chapple and Mary Evelyn Tucker (ed.), Hinduism and Ecology in Biblio, A Review of Books, 2001.

Lloyd Rudolph and Susanne H. Rudolph (ed.), Reversing the Gaze in Biblio, A Review of Books, 2001.

Satadru Sen, Disciplining Punishment in Biblio, A Review of Books, 2001.

Shobita Punja, Divine Ecstasy, in Biblio, A Review of Books, 2000.

Upinder Singh, Ancient Delhi in Biblio, A Review of Books, 2000.

Newspaper articles/Op-eds:

‘Lost Political Narratives: What Earns Swami Agnivesh the Ire of Powers That Be’, Business Standard, 24 July 2018.

‘A Nation Betrayed’ in Times of India, 25 February 2016.

‘The Majoritarian Victims: The History of Lynching Black People as a Parable of our Times, in Scroll.in, 17 Nov 2015.

‘Hindu Selfhood and Cow Stories’, Indian Express, 9 October 2015.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka