Partha Chatterjee

Partha Chatterjee

Research Interest

Research Sub-interest

Culture of Nationalism, Ethnicity and Religion, Postcolonial Democracy, Capitalism in Agrarian Societies


South Asia; India


Partha Chatterjee is a political theorist and historian. He studied at Presidency College in Calcutta, and received his PhD from the University of Rochester. He divides his time between Columbia University and the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, where he was the director from 1997 to 2007. He is the author of more than twenty books, monographs and edited volumes and is a founding member of the Subaltern Studies Collective. He as awarded the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize for 2009 for outstanding achievements in the field of Asian studies.

His books include: The Politics of the Governed: Considerations on Political Society in Most of the World (2004), A Princely Impostor? The Strange and Universal History of the Kumar of Bhawal (2002), A Possible India: Essays in Political Criticism (1997), The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (1993), and Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? (1993). His recent work on global practices of empire since the eighteenth century has resulted in the book The Black Hole of Empire (2012). Chatterjee delivered the Ruth Benedict lectures in the Department of Anthropology in April 2018. The expanded version of these lectures is to be published by Columbia University Press in 2019 as a book entitled "I am the People": Reflections on Popular Sovereignty. A larger book entitled Government by the People: Critique of the Nation Form is nearing completion. His next project will be a people's history of Bengal (including Bangladesh and West Bengal) in the twentieth century.

He is also a poet, playwright, and actor. In the Mira Nair film The Namesake (2007), he played the role of “A Reformed Hindoo.”


University of Rochester, PhD in Political Science, 1972
University of Rochester, MA in Political Science, 1970
University of Calcutta, BA in Political Science, 1967

2014. New Cultural Histories of India: Materiality and Practices. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2012. The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

2011. Lineages of Political Society: Studies in Postcolonial Democracy. New York: Columbia University Press.

2010. Empire and Nation: Selected Essays, 1985-2005. New York: Columbia University Press.

2008. Coauthor with Raziuddin Aquil. History in the Vernacular. Delhi: Permanent Black.

2004. The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World. New York: Columbia University Press. 
2002. A Princely Imposter?: the strange and universal history of the Kumar of Bhawal. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

1997. A Possible India: Essays in Political Criticism. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

1995. Texts of Power: Emerging Disciplines in Colonial Bengal. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 

1993. The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 

1986. Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? London: Zed Books.  

1984. Bengal 1920-1947: The Land Question. Calcutta: K. P. Bagchi.