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Dr Sunil Amrith

On research leave 2014/15

PhD, University of Cambridge (2005)
Reader in Modern Asian History

Contact details

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
Room 314
27 Russell Square

Tel: 020 7631 6423


  • Sunil Amrith is a historian of modern South Asia, with a particular interest in South Asia’s inter-regional and global connections. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in History from the University of Cambridge.

Research and teaching

  • Research interests
  • Sunil Amrith’s research focuses on the movement of people, ideas, and institutions between South and Southeast Asia. His recent work has been on the Bay of Bengal as a region of cultural and political interaction, focusing on the history of migration, and on environmental history.
  • Sunil has been awarded a “Starting Grant” of 890,000 Euroas by the European Research Council to support a new project on the environmental history of the Bay of Bengal littoral. “Coastal Frontiers: Water, Power and the Boundaries of South Asia” will run from 2012 to 2017:
  • Teaching
  • Sunil Amrith teaches a range of undergraduate and Master’s courses on South Asian history, Southeast Asian history, British imperial history, world history, environmental history, and the history of migration.
  • Sunil will be on research leave from Birkbeck between January 2012 and January 2017 to work on his European Research Council-funded project. However, he will continue to accept new doctoral students during this time
  • PhD supervision
  • Sunil Amrith welcomes enquiries from prospective research students interested in working on many aspects of modern Indian, Southeast Asian or global history.


  • Books
  • Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Harvard University Press, 2013)
  • Migration and Diaspora in Modern Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
  • Decolonizing International Health: India and Southeast Asia, 1930-65 (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2006
  • Articles and chapters
  • ‘Sites of Asian interaction’, Special Issue, Modern Asian Studies, 46, 2 (2012), ed. with Tim Harper, including 'Sites of Asian Interaction: An Introduction’, pp. 249-56
  • 'Indians Overseas? Governing Tamil Migration to Malaya, 1870-1941', Past and Present, number 208 (August 2010), pp. 231-61
  • 'Tamil Diasporas across the Bay of Bengal', American Historical Review, 114, 3 (June 2009), pp. 547-72
  • 'Food and Welfare in India, c. 1900-1950', Comparative Studies in Society and History, 50, 4 (2008), pp. 1010-1035
  • For a full bibliography, see

Professional membership

  • American Historical Association

Honours and awards

  • European Research Council Starting Grant (890,000 Euros), 2012-17