Sumathi Ramaswamy

Professor of History

External address: 
Box 90719, Durham, NC 27708-0719
Internal office address: 
325 Carr Building, Durham NC 27708
Phone: 
(919) 684-5764

Overview

I am a cultural historian of South Asia and the British Empire and my research over the last few years has been largely in the areas of visual studies, the history of cartography, and gender. My recent publications in this area include The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India (Duke University Press, 2010); and two edited volumes, Barefoot Across the Nation: Maqbool Fida Husain and the Idea of India (Routledge, 2010), and Empires of Vision (co-edited with Martin Jay, Duke University Press, 2014). My pictorial monograph titled Husain's Raj: Visions of Empire and Nation was published in 2016 by Marg, Mumbai. My work in popular visual history led me in 2006 to co-establish Tasveerghar: A Digital Network of South Asian Popular Visual Culture.  More recently, in collaboration with Heidelberg Sinologist Barbara Mittler, I have started  a comparative project titled, "No Parallel?: The Fatherly Bodies of Gandhi and Mao."  This project has been funded by the Humboldt Foundation which honored me in 2016 with the Annaliese Maier Research Award.

I am also pursuing a new research agenda on the cultures of learning in colonial and postcolonial India. As part of this agenda, I have recently completed a monograph titled Terrestrial Lessons: The Conquest of the World as Globe (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming in 2017), in which I explore the debates in colonial India about the shape and disposition of the earth in the universe and examine the course of science education conducted around the terrestrial globe as a pedagogic object as it enters Indian schools. 

A second project tentatively titled "A Strange Kindness? Giving & Learning in Tamil India," draws upon my experience as Program Officer for Education, Arts & Culture for the Ford Foundation in New Delhi (2002-2005). It charts the ethical, economic and political impulses that have governed private philanthropy directed towards the establishment of colleges and universities across Tamil India from the 19th century into the present.

 

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley 1992

  • M.A., University of Pennsylvania 1986

  • M.A., Jawaharlal Nehru University (India) 1982

  • B.A., University of Delhi (India) 1980

Anneliese Maier Research Award awarded by Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2021

Cartography and Creativity in the Age of Global Empire awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2012

Barefoot Across India: Art & The Politics of Risk awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2009 to 2010

Ramaswamy, S. Terrestrial Lessons: The Conquest of the World as Globe (In preparation). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. (Monograph)

Ramaswamy, S. Husain's Raj: Visions of Empire and Nation in Postcolonial India. Mumbai: Marg Publishers, 2016. (Monograph)

Visual Homes, Image Worlds: Essays from Tasveer Ghar, the House of Pictures. Edited by C Brosius, S Ramaswamy, and Y Saeed. New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2015. (Edited Book)

Empires of Vision: A Reader. Edited by M Jay and S Ramaswamy. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. (Edited Book)

Ramaswamy, S. The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010. (Monograph)

Barefoot across the Nation: Maqbool Fida Husain and the Idea of India. Edited by S Ramaswamy. London: Routledge, 2010. (Edited Book)

Beyond Appearances?: Visual Practices and Ideologies in Modern India. Edited by S Ramaswamy. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2003. (Edited Book)

Ramaswamy, S. Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891-1970. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1997.

Ramaswamy, S. "V. Geetha and S.V. Rajadurai, Towards a Non-Brahmin Millennium: From Iyothee Thass ro Periyar (Calcutta: Samya, 1998)." The Indian Economic and Social History Review 37, no. 1 (2000): 97-99.

Pages

Ramaswamy, S. "Art on the Line: Cartography and Creativity in a Divided India (In preparation)." In Mapping the Transition from Colony to Nation,edited by J Akerman. University of Chicago Press, 2017. (Chapter)

Ramaswamy, S, Brosius, C, and Saeed, Y. "Visual Homes, Image Worlds: A Guided Tour Through Our House of Pictures." In Visual Homes, Image Worlds: Essays from Tasveer Ghar, the House of Pictures,edited by C Brousius, S Ramaswamy, and Y Saeed,1-13. New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2015. (Chapter)

Ramaswamy, S. "Artful Mapping in Bazar India." In Visual Homes, Image Worlds: Essays from Tasveer Ghar, the House of Pictures,edited by C Brosius, S Ramaswamy, and Y Saeed,50-67. New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2015. (Chapter)

Ramaswamy, S. "The Work of Vision in the Age of European Empires." In Empires of Vision: A Reader,edited by M Jay and S Ramaswamy,1-22. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. (Chapter)

Ramaswamy, S, and Jay, M. "Postcolonial Looking." In Empires of Vision: A Reader,edited by M Jay and S Ramaswamy,377-391. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. (Introduction)

Ramaswamy, S, and Jay, M. "The Imperial Optic." In Empires of Vision: A Reader,edited by M Jay and S Ramaswamy,25-43. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. (Introduction)

Ramaswamy, S. "Global Encounters, Earthly Knowledges, Worldly Selves." In L’Inde des Lumières: Discours, Histoire, Savoirs (XVIIe-XIXe siècle),edited by M Fourcade and I Zupanov,359-391. EHESS, Paris, January 2013.

Ramaswamy, S. "The Work of Goddesses in the Age of Mass Reproduction." In Transcultural Turbulences: Towards a Multi-Sited Reading of Image Flows,edited by C Brosius and R Wenzlhuemer,191-220. Springer Verlag, 2011.

Ramaswamy, S. "Barefoot across India: An Artist and his Country." In Barefoot across the Nation: Maqbool Fida Husain and the Idea of India,edited by S Ramaswamy,1-20. London: Routledge, 2010. (Introduction)

Ramaswamy, S. "Mapping India after Husain." In Barefoot across the Nation: Maqbool Fida Husain and the Idea of India,edited by S Ramaswamy,75-99. London: Routledge, 2010. (Chapter)

Pages

Ramaswamy, S. "Maps, Mother Goddesses and Martyrdom in Modern India." Journal of Asian Studies 67, no. 3 (2008): 1-35.

Ramaswamy, S. "Conceit of the Globe in Mughal India." Comparative Studies in Society and History 49, no. 4 (2007): 751-782. (Academic Article)

Ramaswamy, S. "Beyond appearances? Visual practices and ideologies in modern India - Introduction." CONTRIBUTIONS TO INDIAN SOCIOLOGY 36, no. 1-2 (2002): VII-XII. (Introduction)

Ramaswamy, S. "Remains of the race: Archaeology, nationalism, and the yearning for civilisation in the Indus valley." INDIAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL HISTORY REVIEW 38, no. 2 (2001): 105-145. Full Text

Ramaswamy, S. "Catastrophic cartographies: Mapping the lost continent of Lemuria." Representations 67 (December 1, 2000): 92-129. (Review)

Ramaswamy, S. "History at land's end: Lemuria in Tamil spatial fables." JOURNAL OF ASIAN STUDIES 59, no. 3 (August 2000): 575-602. Full Text

Ramaswamy, S. "Sanskrit for the nation." MODERN ASIAN STUDIES 33 (May 1999): 339-381. Full Text

Ramaswamy, S. "The Demoness, the Maid, the Whore, and the Good Mother: Contesting the National Language in India." International Journal of Sociology of Language 140 (1999): 1-28. (Academic Article)

Ramaswamy, S. "Language of the people in the world of gods: Ideologies of Tamil before the nation." JOURNAL OF ASIAN STUDIES 57, no. 1 (February 1998): 66-92. Full Text

Pages

Ramaswamy, S. "Going Global in Mughal India: A Digital Muraqqa." (October 2014). (Digital Edition)

Ramaswamy, S. "Bhārat Mātā." (2012). (Digital Edition)

Ramaswamy, S. "Artful Mapping in Bazaar India." (March 2011). (Digital Edition)

Ramaswamy, S. "Midnight’s Line." Edited by I Dadi and H Nasar. Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space (2012): 25-35. (Essay)

Ramaswamy, S. "Doing Pictorial History at the Roja Muthiah Research Library." Māṟṟuvēli 4 (2010): 82-89. (Academic Article)

Ramaswamy, S. "The Politics of Prayer." Frontline (1999): 92-93. (Scholarly Commentary)

Ramaswamy, S. "Ancient Indians in Southeast Asia: Plying the Eastern Trade Route." The India Magazine (December 1982). (Scholarly Commentary)

Pages

Going Global in Mughal India. Curator. Mughal muraqqa' project (2014)

Abstract

This project uses the tools of digital humanities to track the itineraries of the terrestrial globe in Mughal India. Supported by grants from the Arts and Sciences Committee on Faculty Research and the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University, I have undertaken this project as a cultural historian interested in documenting cartographic practices in the Indian subcontinent. Using Turning the Pages™ software, I have assembled imperial Mughal paintings from the seventeenth century in a digital album (muraqqa’) that showcases "the calculated display” of the globe of the earth within the frame of each work. I have also been concerned in this project in making available to a wider public a specific set of highly-specialized arguments regarding the arrival of the terrestrial globe as an object and as representation in India. Not least, this project uses the new tools of digital humanities to explore both the promise—and the limits—of online scholarship and curatorial work.