Staff Profile:Dr Rohan Deb Roy

Dr Rohan Deb Roy
Job Title:
Lecturer in South Asian History (19th/20th century)

Study Abroad Co-ordinator

Undergraduate teaching

Part One Option:

Hunger and Famines in History

Part Two Option:

'The Brightest Jewel in the British Crown': The Making of Modern South Asia

Part Three Topic:

Modern Science and the Imperial World

Postgraduate teaching

MA Option:

Animals in History

Enquiries for supervision are welcome, especially on the following themes: colonial and postcolonial South Asia; British imperialism in the Indian subcontinent more generally; animal history; the history of imperial science and colonial medicine; environmental history of the British Empire; comparative histories of hunger and famines.

Areas of Interest:

I am a historian of modern South Asia, and in my research I combine insights from the histories of science and medicine, histories of empire and colonialism, environmental history, and animal history. I grew up in boarding schools in Eastern India and read history in Calcutta before joining University College London to pursue my doctoral thesis, which I defended in November 2009. Since then I have held three postdoctoral fellowships: at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta (December 2009 to November 2010), at the University of Cambridge (February 2011 to October 2013), and most recently at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (November 2013 to August 2015). I joined the Department of History at the University of Reading as a Lecturer in South Asian History in September 2015. Meanwhile, I spent the October of 2012 in New York as Weiss Visiting Lecturer in the History of Science, Empire and Globalisation at Barnard College, Columbia University.

My first book Malarial Subjects (now under contract with the Science in History series at Cambridge University Press) explores how British imperial rule shaped knowledge about the drug quinine and its disease malaria in British India and the wider colonial world in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It also examines the ways in which quinine and malaria in turn sustained and reconsolidated empire. Malarial Subjects pursues the methodological challenge of narrating the significance of medical categories and artefacts in history, while retaining a constructivist critique of scientism and empire.

My current project Imperial Insects examines the extent to which nineteenth-century British imperialism shaped the discipline of entomology (the 'scientific study of insects'), and how the figure of insects in turn informed the contours of colonial history. With focus on the history of insects in South Asia, I explore the interactions between the imperial worlds of laboratory medicine, colonial governance, natural history, commerce and vernacular print. I examine the imbrications of enclosed cabinets of naturalists as well as insulated entomological laboratories with wider public cultures, which reflected a variety of promises, prejudices and stereotypes relating to insects.

Alongside working on my own projects I have continued to collaborate with colleagues in organizing various workshops and conferences on themes such as 'Locating the Medical in South Asian History' (London, April 2010); 'Public and Private' (Calcutta, October 2010); 'Nonhuman Empires' (Cambridge, March 2012); 'Unusual Lives' (Berlin, November 2014), and 'Global Science' (New Delhi, December 2014). A co-edited volume on the historiography of medicine in South Asia is now under consideration with the Oxford University Press. I have also edited a special issue on 'Histories of medicine in the Global South' (Global South: Sephis e-magazine, 2010), and have more recently put together a special section on 'Nonhuman Empires' with Sujit Sivasundaram (Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 2015).

At Reading, I will be co-organising three conferences over the next academic year on the following themes: 'Object Lessons and Nature Tables: Research Collaborations between Historians of Science and University Museums', 'Tracking the Tiger: From Colonialism to Conservation', and 'Political Animals in Southern Asia'.


Research groups / Centres:

I am the Book Reviews Editor of the Routledge journal South Asian History and Culture. I am a member of the British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS) and the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS). I am a key member of a group working to establish a Centre for Health Humanities at Reading.

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This list was generated on Sat Oct 21 12:48:32 2017 BST.

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