Utathya Chattopadhyaya

 Utathya Chattopadhyaya

Contact Information

309 Gregory Hall
810 S. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801


Utathya Chattopadhyaya is a fifth year doctoral candidate in History. He grew up in Kolkata and Delhi, taking degrees in economics and modern Indian history before beginning his doctoral research on the history of South Asia and the British Empire in the 19th century.  

At Illinois, he has held two separate Graduate College INTERSECT fellowships on interdisciplinary developments in neuroscience and the humanities (2012-13), and the global contexts of cultures of law (2014-15). His two years of doctoral research have been supported by the American Institute of Indian Studies' Metcalf Fellowship in Indian History as well as the Bastian Fellowship in Global and Transnational Studies.

In 2014, he was part of a research collective that won the Graduate College's inaugural Focal Point Breakthrough Grant to study networks of transnational solidarity at the University of Illinois. In 2015, he was awarded the IPRH Prize for Research in the Humanities. In AY 2013-14, he was a TA for World History with a focus on commodities, environments, and identities. 

His research interests lie in the history of South Asia and the British Empire, the social and cultural histories of commodities, capital and labor, and theories of globality, agrarian change and gender in the colonial Indian Ocean World.

Research Interests

  • South Asia
  • Britain and Empire, 1688-present
  • Indian Ocean World
  • Global Histories of Colonialism and Postcolonialism
  • Labor, Commodities and Capitalism
  • Gender and Critical Theory
  • Agrarian History and Marxism

Research Description

Utathya's dissertation, tentatively titled Intoxication, Commoditization and Imperialism in South Asia and the Indian Ocean (1840-1940), explores the role of South Asian agrarian life in the global history of intoxicant commodities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By analyzing market formations along with the movement of agrarian labor, ideas of co-operative farming, policing technologies, financial infrastructures, and subaltern religious thought, his work seeks to demonstrate the role of British imperialism in shaping the political economy of drug production and cultures of labor and consumption under empire.

His project connects rural Eastern Bengal to the wider Indian Ocean World to explore the nature of globality and scale encountered by various 19th century colonial actors such as peasants, moneylenders, migrant laborers, women and administrative officials. Drawing on archives in English, Bengali, and Hindi along with translations from other languages, it frames the co-constitutive entanglements of economy and culture within the larger debates on economic self-sufficiency, social reform, colonial morality and legalities of prohibition. 

He is simultaneously also interested in the historiography of the Indian Ocean World, anti-colonial internationalism in the 20th century, modes of agrarian knowledge and critical theoretical approaches to histories of science and technology.


  • B.A. (Hons.) Economics, Delhi University
  • M.A. Modern History, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Distinctions / Awards


  • 2013-14: World History (HIST 100)

Selected Publications

Special Issues of a Journal

Chattopadhyaya, Utathya Talking History: E.P. Thompson, C.L.R. James and the Afterlives of Internationalism Radical Book History: E. P. Thompson and The Making of the English Working Class, Fifty Years On Historical Reflections/Reflexions Historiques 41 1 2015, p. 111-28. Link.

Website Articles

Chattopadhyaya, Utathya Time to move on? A response to Vivek Chibber Kritik 2014.


Chattopadhyaya, Utathya Industrial Labor Force in Colonial Bombay Priyanka Srivastava, Creating a Healthy and ‘Decent’ Industrial Labor Force: Health, Sanitation and Welfare in Colonial Bombay, 1896-1945 Dissertation Reviews 2014.
Chattopadhyaya, Utathya Review Chad Haines, Nation, Territory, and Globalization in Pakistan: Traversing the Margins. New York: Routledge, 2012 Journal of International and Global Studies 5 1 2013, p. 114-16.