I graduated with an Honours degree (BA) in History and Social and Political Science from the University of Cambridge (Corpus Christi College) in 1994. I then went on to complete a first-class Master’s (MPhil) in Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and was awarded my PhD in 2005 from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and currently the Director of Postgraduate Studies for the School of Humanities (2019).

My career in higher education began at SOAS. Alongside completing my PhD, I was wholly responsible for teaching and examining modules pertaining to the governance and politics of South Asia (1999-2002). I was also appointed as a Teaching Fellow in International History (2003-05) at the London School of Economics where I was responsible for teaching Modern History to undergraduate and postgraduate students. I joined Keele University in 2005, where I took up a permanent lectureship in Colonial and Postcolonial History.

Since joining Keele University, I have enriched the History Department by introducing South Asian histories of empire, migration and politics, and added South-centred readings and perspectives in core History modules. I have also led colleagues to rethink Eurocentric biases in their modules.

In 2016, I was appointed the Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies for the School of Humanities. I was then appointed the Director of Postgraduate Studies for the School of Humanities (2019). In 2021 I became Faculty of Humanities and Social Science Lead in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Since 2017, I have co-led the ‘Decolonising the Curriculum Group’ at Keele University.

I was also Co-Chair of Keele University’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Staff (BAME) Network from May 2018 – July 2019. In this capacity, I have organised meetings and events to promote dialogue both within the BAME network, between BAME colleagues and the wider Keele community.


2005: PhD in Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
1996: MPhil (with Distinction) in Politics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
1994: 2.1 in History and Social and Politics Science, University of Cambridge.

2019: Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Keele, UK.

2019: Senior Fellowship Higher Education Academy


  • Hindi
  • Punjabi
  • Spoken Urdu
  • English

Research and scholarship

My research interests combine my multi-disciplinary background of Colonia/Postcolonial Studies, Politics, and International History; I write on the effects of empire on the politics of South Asia. My monograph Radical Politics in Colonial Punjab: Governance and Sedition (2010) identifies Punjab in Northern India as an archetype of how India’s politics were managed with a high degree of success to further imperial interests. It also explores how communist and socialist ideologies were adapted to a nationalistic and later democratic context. I am also interested in American soft power in South Asia during the Cold War: My forthcoming book, titled: India in the American century: diplomacy, culture and intellectual life in the new republic (1942-1975), will explore American and Indian cultural and intellectual life after 1947.

Funding awards

2021-2023: Principal Investigator: The Ownership of Public History TOPHI, British Academy- Humanities and Social Sciences Tackling Global Challenges Programme.

2019: Working on AHRC Standard Research Grant, ‘Partition, Independence and Networks of Knowledge (PINK): Anglo-Indian universities, international scholarship and the making of ‘South Asia’ as an academic field c. 1920-1960’; Co-I (with PI - Professor Navtej Purewal and Co-I Eleanor Newbigin).

Indian Political Culture; History of Indian and Pakistani Punjab; ‘Legitimate’ and ‘Illegitimate’ Politics; 20th Century Intellectual Migration; Decolonisation. I would happy to supervise students interested in any of these research interests.

PhD Supervision


2017: Gemma Scott, AHRC NWCDPT Award (2013-2017): “Women under Emergency in India (1975-1977)”.

2014: Craig Doughty, AHRC NWCDPT Award (2011-2014): “The jazz scene in 1920 Boston, Massachusetts”. First supervisor from 2013-2014.

2011: Zoe Groves, AHRC NWCDTP Award (2008-2011): “Malawians in Colonial Salisbury: A social history of migration in Central Africa c. 1920s-1960s”. Second supervisor with Professor David Maxwell.

Charles Ariye, Nigerian government funded (2015 – Present) “Conquest through Treaty: A study of the Nigerian Delta Region”. Second supervisor with Dr Rachel Bright.



Historical Research and Writing
Introduction to Modern History
Defining Moments
Sources and Debates
Power in the Modern World
Company and Crown in India, 1818-1928
The Partition of India
Sites of Sexual Conflict in South Asia

Postgraduate Masters Courses Taught

PGT Dissertations Workshop
Approaches to Historical Research
Research Skills in the Humanities
Reflective Practice in the Humanities




Sharma S 2022, Fellow travellers: the Indian discovery of America in the 20th Century.
Sharma S. 2017. (with V.S. Kalra) State of subversion: radical politics in Punjab in the 20th century. New Delhi: Routledge India.
Sharma S. 2009. Radical Politics in Colonial Punjab: Governance and Sedition. London: Routledge

Journal articles

Sharma S. 2020. ‘The Chicago School goes east: Edward Shils and the dilemma of the Indian intellectuals, c.1956-67’. Modern Asia Studies

Sharma S. Sharma S. 2013. ‘“Yeh azaadi jhooti hai”: The shaping of the opposition in the first year of the Congress raj’. Modern Asian Studies, (48) 5, 1-31.

Sharma S. 2013. ‘Communism and “democracy”: Punjab radicals and representative politics in the 1930s’. South Asian History and Culture, (4) 4, 443-464.

Sharma S. 2013. (with V. Kalra) ‘State of Subversion: Radical Politics in twentieth century Punjab’. South Asian History and Culture, (4) 4, 435-442.

Sharma S. 2007. ‘Developing a communist identity: the case of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha’. Journal of Punjab Studies, (2) 14, 167-186.

Book chapters

Sharma S. 2020. (Forthcoming) ‘History Wars: The systematic saffronisation of Indian History’. In I. Roy (ed) Passionate Politics and the Battle for India’s Soul: India’s 2019 General Elections. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Sharma S. 2020. (Forthcoming) ‘Enabling the deniers of caste: Hindutva its use of decolonisation’. In A.S. Purakayastha (ed) Majoritarian Nationalism in Contemporary India. London: Routledge.
Sharma S. 2020. (Forthcoming, with R. Datta) ‘Jawaharlal Nehru University: a university for the nation’. In Jill Pellew and Miles Taylor (eds) The utopian universities: a global history of the 1960s campuses. London: Bloomsbury.
Sharma S. 2013. ‘The Ghadarites and Punjab Communism’. In: J.S. Grewal, Harish K. Puri and Indu Banga (eds) Ghadar Movement: Background, Ideology, Action and Legacy. Lahore: Punjab University Press.


Sharma S. 2020. ‘JNU violence: Indian university’s radical history has long scared country’s rulers’.

Sharma S. 2019. ‘India: how some Hindu nationalists are rewriting caste history in the name of decolonisation’.

Sharma S. 2017. ‘Hindutva and historical revisionism, Histories of the Present’. History Workshop Online.

Mariangela Palladino & Shalini Sharma, ‘To combat racial inequality, university classrooms must be more inclusive.’ Times Higher Education, 7 November 2020


Recent career history

2021-present: Senior Lecturer in South Asian History
2019 – 2021: Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy
2005-2021: Lecturer in colonial and postcolonial history
2005-Present: Lecturer in Colonial and Postcolonial History, Keele University.
2003-2005: Tutorial Fellow in International History, London School of Economics, London.
2001-2003: Occasional Teacher in International History, London School of Economics, London.
1999-2002: Lecturer (part-time) in Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

Recent conference papers and invited talks

2020: "Hinduism and the war on history in Narendra Modi's India" for Institute of Historical Research Modern Religious History Seminar discussion entitled 'Religion, Race and the State.' 11 November

2020: "Decolonising Keele University: Becoming an Anti-racist University" at Decolonising the University of Bradford event, 21 July

2019: “Complicating ‘populism’: Hindutva, caste and decolonisation” for KISI (Keele Institute for Social Inclusion) Workshop on Democracy and Populism, Keele University. 31 January 2019, [p

2018: “Decolonising the History Curriculum” at Decolonising the Curriculum event. Keele University, UK. 28 February 2018.

2017: “The Revolution Goes South: 1917 in the Indian political imagination” at The Centenary of 1917: Year of Two Revolutions in Russia. Keele University, UK. 24 October 2017.

2017: “Hindutva and Postcolonialism” at British Association of South Asian Studies Annual Conference. Nottingham, UK. 21 April 2017.

2017: “Edward Shils and the dilemma of the Indian intellectuals, c.1955-1967” at Keele Modern History Seminar. History Department, Keele University. 22 March 2017.

2016: “Jawaharlal Nehru University: A campus for the nation” at Utopian Universities: The New Campuses of the 1960s. History Department, University of York. 11-13 September 2016.

2013: “‘Uncle Sham’: Indian representations of the USA before independence” as part of a panel titled “Beyond Subaltern Studies: New approaches to the study of political ideas in South Asia”. 42nd Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, Wisconsin. October 2013. USA.

2011: “‘Uncle Sham or Aunty Sham?’ Indian representations of the USA before independence” at South Asian Seminar Series. History Department, School of Oriental and Asian Studies. December 2011.

2011: “Communism and Islam in South Asia” at Religion and Politics Seminar Series. History and Politics Department, Loughborough University. April 2011.

2010: “‘Communism and democracy’: Punjab radicals and representative democracy in the 1930s”. European Conference of Modern South Asian Studies, Bonn, July 2010. Sheffield University Seminar Series, November 2010.

2009: “Yeh Azaadi Jhooti Hai (This Independence is a Lie): An Analysis of the Official Communist Party of India Line from 1947 to 1950”. 38th Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, Wisconsin. October 2009.

2009: “The Organised Left and Representative politics in pre-Partition Punjab”. Punjab: Past and Present. Government College University, Lahore. February 2009. Pakistan.

2008: “Developing a communist identity in colonial Punjab: The case of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha”. History Department, Sheffield Hallam University. April 2008.

2007: “Turning democratic: The Indian state and sedition from 1947 to 1951”. Beyond Independence: South Asia 1947-1977. Royal Holloway, London. April 2007.

2006: “Enemies of the State – The reaction of the Indian state to the Telengana uprising from 1946-1952”. British Association for South Asian Studies, Birkbeck College, London. April 2006.

2006: “The Content of Marxism in Punjab before 1947”. Political Studies Association,
University of Reading. April 2006.

2004: “The Culture of Imperial Governance in Punjab”. Empire & Imperial Culture Conference. California State University, Stanislaus. February 2004. USA.

2003: “Some Meanings of Radicalism in Pre-Partition Punjab”. South Asia Seminar, Leicester University. December 2003.

Recent administrative roles

2021: Faculty of Humanities and Social Science Lead in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

2021: Elected Councillor, Keele University

2019: Director of Postgraduate Studies, School of Humanities, Keele University.

2019: Member of EDI Committee, School of Humanities, Keele University.

2018: Mentor (Aurora 1 ECR; BAME 1 ECR; REC 1 member of the SMT), Keele University.

2018: Elected Senator, Keele University.

2018: Co-chair BAME Staff Network, Keele University.

2018: Member of Decolonising Keele Staff and Student Working Group, Keele University.

2017: Participant in Keele University Strategic Conversation on Improving Student Recruitment, Keele University.

2017: Member of RECSAT Committee

2017: Member of REC Culture and Communication Committee

2016: PGT Director, Keele University.

2013: Taught Postgraduate Admissions Tutor in History, Keele University.

2010-15: Academic Conduct Officer, School of Humanities, Keele University.

2010-13: Director of Undergraduate Studies in History, Keele University.

2009-11: Research Training Coordinator, School of Humanities, Keele University.

2007-10: BA Examinations Secretary in History, Keele University.

Peer review

  • Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Research Project Funding.

Publishers and journals

  • Oxford University Press India
  • Stanford University Press
  • Palgrave Macmillan
  • I.B. Taurus
  • Ethnicities (ISSN: 1468-7968)
  • Modern Asian Studies (ISSN: 1469-8099)
  • Historical Materialism (ISSN: 1569-206X)




Impact and Outreach

2021: Chaired and presented a paper at The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Centenary Public Parliamentary Meeting

2020: Chaired and presented at UCU Webinar : ‘Decolonising our institutions’ as member of UCU Black Members Standing Committee

2020: Presented paper: ‘The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in British history and politics: a case to decolonise,’ at a public meeting organised by The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Centenary committee

2019: Interviewed for “Politics of Hindu nationalism: India Tomorrow part 2”. Podcast, The Conversation. 16 April 2019 Audio and Transcript, 3861 hits.

2019: [invited participant] for Lahore Thinkfest. 11-13 January 2019.

2019: Interview on BBC Radio 4 and Sunrise Radio on Hinduism and the South Asian Diaspora.

2013: Keynote speaker at various Ghadar centenary events throughout the UK.

Regularly asked to comment on South Asian politics for BBC Asian Network.

School of Humanities
Chancellor's Building
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Tel: +44 (0) 1782 733109

Head of School
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Room: CBB1.038 (Chancellor's Building, 'B' Extension)
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 733142

School and college outreach
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734009