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. Since, I have been appointed the Director of Postgraduate Studies for the School of Humanities (2019).
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.
1996: MPhil (with Distinction) in Politics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
1994: 2.1 in History and Social and Politics Science, University of Cambridge.
- Spoken Urdu
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.
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.
Charles Ariye, Nigerian government funded (2015 – Present) “Conquest through Treaty: A study of the Nigerian Delta Region”. Second supervisor with Dr Rachel Bright.
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.
Historical Research and Writing
Introduction to Modern History
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. 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
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.
Full Publications Listshow
Kalra VS and Sharma S (Eds.). 2017. State of subversion : radical politics in Punjab in the 20th century. New Delhi: Routledge India. link>
Radical politics in colonial Punjab. Taylor & Francis.2009.
Democracy and Communism: Radical Punjabis in the 1937 Punjab Assembly. South Asian History and Culture.2013.
State of Subversion: Radical Politics in twentieth century Punjab. South Asian History and Culture. doi>2013.
'Developing a communist identity: the case of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha'. Journal of Punjab Studies, 167-186, vol. 14(2).2007.
India: how some Hindu nationalists are rewriting caste history in the name of decolonisation.2019.
Hindutva and historical revisionism. link>2017.
Recent Career 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
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
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.
- 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
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.