Born in Mauritius, I have a PhD in History from Warwick and MA and BA degrees from SOAS and Kent respectively. I have taught at Birkbeck and Cardiff and previously worked for Save The Children Fund for a decade. This campaigning background has influenced my research interests which are focused on India and on the southern world, and I remain committed to radical perspectives in history writing. I came to the Open University in 2003 as staff tutor in Bristol and lecturer at the newly established Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, joining the History Department in 2008. I am also a member of the OpenSpace Research Centre in FASS.
I am currently Director of the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies.
My research is primarily focused on India/South Asia and combines social history with historical geography, and I am particularly interested in the themes of environment, climate, and development. I am currently working on a book about the interactions between food production, cotton cultivation, and climate change in colonial western India, and have so far published one article on this subject. I would welcome enquiries from prospective research students in any of the above areas.
I am also Principal Investigator on an AHRC-funded Research Networking for International Development (GCRF) project, Changing Farming Lives in South India, Past and Present. The project aims to bring an original arts and humanities perspective to the crucial development challenges of food security, biodiversity, and climate adaptation facing small and marginal farmers, particularly women.
In particular, Changing Farming Lives explores the potential of oral history, and its film and sound amplifications, to support women farmers' creativity in developing resilience to these livelihood challenges by documenting their stories, rituals, feelings, and values. The project involves a partnership between researchers in the UK and the Karnataka-based NGO Green Foundation which works with local smallholders to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable farming.
I have completed three major externally-funded projects over the past decade. I was Principal Investigator on an AHRC-funded digital history project, Commodity Histories (2012-18), which was the first digital resource in the UK to focus on the histories of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. The website provided a public forum for researchers working globally on the history of commodities to write about new research, works-in-progress, as well as news and events from their part of the world.
I was also Co-Director (2007-16) of a British Academy interdisciplinary research project, Commodities of Empire, with Professor Jean Stubbs of UCL. The project held an annual workshop showcasing new research projects and initiatives on this theme and bringing fresh perspectives and insights from the world beyond Europe.
Finally I was Co-I on a collaborative research project, Commodities and Anti-Commodities (2009-13), with colleagues from Wageningen University, Netherlands, funded by the NWO. The project revealed significant instances of sustainable modes of indigenous farming in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean during the colonial era, and it led to the publication of a book titled Local Subversions of Colonial Cultures: Commodities and Anti-Commodities in Global History (2016) which I co-edited with Dr Harro Maat of Wageningen University.
A full list of my publications can be found by clicking on the 'Publications' tab above.
I have recently served as consultant and been interviewed for a series of BBC television and radio programmes to mark the 70th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan. These include the documentary series Dangerous Borders: A Journey Across India and Pakistan, broadcast on BBC2 in August 2017, and BBC Radio 4’s Printing A Nation series, broadcast in April 2017.
Current collaboration with NGO Green Foundation, Karnataka, India, on AHRC-funded research project, Changing Farming Lives.
|Empire and Postcolonial Studies Research Group||Group||Faculty of Arts|
|OpenSpace Research Centre||Centre||Faculty of Social Sciences|
|The Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies||Centre||Faculty of Arts|