Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter/innen








Dr Nitin Sinha


Current Position | Past Employment | Education | Awards & Grants | Publications | Op-ed and Social Media | Editorial Duty | Courses Taught | Conference Attendance | Conference Organisation | Review and Expert Activity | Memberships | Languages

Current Position

2015-: Senior Research Fellow, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (Centre for Modern Oriental Studies), Berlin.

Past Employment

2012-15: Lecturer in Modern History, Department of History, University of York, UK.

2008–2012: Research Fellow, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (Centre for Modern Oriental Studies), Berlin. Project title: ‘The Ganga: Landscape, community, religion, 1760s–1960s’.

2011–12: Visiting Lectureship in Modern South Asia, South Asia Institute (SAI), University of Heidelberg, Germany.

2010–11: Visiting Lectureship in Modern South Asia, Humboldt University, Berlin.

2005–07: Undergraduate Teaching Assistant, Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.


2003–07: Ph. D, South Asian History, Department of History, SOAS. Title of the thesis: ‘Communication and Patterns of Circulation: Trade, Travel and Knowledge in Colonial Bihar, 1760s–1870s’.

2002–03: M. Phil, Modern Indian History, Centre for Historical Studies (CHS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.

2000–02: M.A., Modern Indian History, CHS, JNU.

1997–2000: B.A., History (Hons), Patna College, Patna University, Bihar.

Awards & Grants

2015-18: European Research Commission Starting Grant (ERC-StG) for the project, ‘Domestic Servants in Colonial South Asia’ (Principal Investigator).

2013-14: 10-month fellowship at IGK, “Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History”, Re:Work, Humboldt University, Berlin.

2003–07: Felix Foundation Scholarship.

2004: Best paper award in the section ‘Modern India and the Countries other than India’, Indian History Congress, India.

2003: Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) Grant, New Delhi.

2003: SARAI Studentship, Centre for Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi.

Publications (Selection)

‘Infrastructural Governance and Social History: Roads in Colonial and Postcolonial India’, History Compass, 15, 9.
‘Measuring Disaster?: ‘Everydayness’ of Fluvial Landscape and Colonial State in Gangetic Diaras, 1790s–1880s’, in Gerrit Schenk, ed. A Comparative and Transcultural Survey of Historical Disaster Experiences between Asia and Europe, Springer Press.

‘Law, Agro-ecology and Colonialism in mid-Gangetic India, 1770s–1910s’, in Gunnel Cederlöf and Sanjukta Das Gupta, eds., Subjects, Citizens, and Law: Colonial and Independent India, Routledge, India. 

‘Engines vs. Elephants: Train Tales of India Modernity’, IZSAF, 1.

‘Railway Imperialism: A Small Town Perspective on Global History, Jamalpur, 1860s–1900s’, Comparativ: A Journal of Global History and Comparative Studies, 25/4, 2015.

‘‘Opinion’ and ‘Violence’: Whiteness, Empire and State-formation in Colonial India’, South Asia Chronicle, 4/2014.

‘Contract, Work and Resistance: Boatmen in Early Colonial Eastern India, 1760s–1850s’, International Review of Social History, 59, S22.

‘Fluvial Landscape and the State: Property and the Gangetic Diaras in Colonial India, 1790s–1890s’, Environment and History, 20, 2.

‘Continuity and Change: The Eighteenth Century and Indian Historiography’, South Asia Chronicle, 2/2012.

With Katharina Lange and Sebastian Prange, ‘Reflecting on ‘Muslim Worlds – World of Islam’ from a Spatial Perspective’ ZMO Programmatic Texts, No. 7.

Communication and Colonialism in Eastern India, Bihar: 1760s–1880s, Anthem Press, London and New York, [ppb 2014].

‘Entering the Black Hole: Between ‘Mini-England’ and ‘Smell-Like Rotten Potato’, the Railway-Workshop Town of Jamalpur, 1860s–1940s’, South Asian History and Culture, 3, 3. 

‘Protest and Mobilization: Aspects of Workers’ Resistance and Control’, Marcel van der Linden and Prabhu Mohapatra, eds., Labour Matters: Towards Global Histories: Studies in Honour of Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Tulika, New Delhi.

‘Anxiety, Fear and Change: 1857 and Colonial Rule in Bihar’, Prajna Bharati: The Journal of the K. P. Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna. 

‘World of Workers’ Politics: Some Issues of Railway Workers in Colonial India, 1918–1922’, Modern Asian Studies, 42, 5.
‘Mobility, Control and Criminality in Colonial India, 1760s–1850s’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 45, 1. 

Forms of Workers’ Protest amidst Dilemmas of Contesting Mobilizations: The Jamalpur strike of 1919 and 1928’, Sephis E Magazine: Special Issue on Labour in Memory of Late Rajnarayan Chandavarkar, 3, 2.

‘Contest and Communication: The Geography of Rebellion in Bihar’, Biblio: A Review of Books: A Special Issue on 1857, xii, March–April.

‘Forged Linkages and the ‘Spectre’ of 1857: A Few Instances from Bihar’, Sharmistha Gooptu and Boria Majumdar, eds., Revisiting 1857: History, Myth, Memory, Roli Books, Delhi.

Op-ed and Social

Several opinion pieces in The Wire.

Editorial Duty

Co-editor, academic monograph series titled New Perspectives in South Asian History, Orient Blackswan, India.

Co-founder of Y-SASM (Young South Asia Scholars Meet), Berlin, 2010.


Courses Taught

Both at B. A. and M. A. levels, on the history of transport, traffic and cities, comparative technologies, British empire and colonial transition in South Asia in the history departments of Humboldt University, University of Heidelberg and University of York.

Lectures delivered on select themes of European and global history that include 19th century wars, nationalism, nation-states, and imperialism.

Names of some sample courses: ‘Cities as Traffic Machines’, ‘From Merchants to Rulers: Colonial Transition in India’.

This fall I will teach a course on ‘What Colonialism did to Land?’ at CeMIS, Goettingen University, Germany.

Select Conference Attendance,
Invited Lectures & Presentations

July 2017: ‘Who is (not) a Servant, Anyway?: Domestic Servants and Service in Early Colonial India’, Invited lecture, Presidency University, Kolkata, 26 July.

March 2017: ‘The home and the Hearth in the Age of Steam: Poetic Imagination and Bhojpuriya women’, Asian Development Research Institute International Conference, Patna, 26 March.

December 2016: ‘Who are Servants? Early Colonial State and Regimes of Regulation’, Invited lecture, Centre for the History of Emotions, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, 21 December.

June 2016: ‘Domestic Servants in Colonial India, 1700s–1900s’, Invited lecture, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen University, 14 June.

April 2016: ‘Roads in Past and Present of India’, Invited lecture, Nalanda University, 01 April.

April 2015: ‘Law, Labour and the Concept of ‘delay’ in Early Colonial India’, in Diagnosing Legal Temporalities, University of Kent, 15-16 April.

February 2015: ‘Railway Imperialism: A ‘Global’ History of Jamalpur, 1860s–1910s’, Invited lecture, Presidency University, Kolkata, 11 February.

November 2014: ‘Domestic Servants in Colonial India’, Fourth International ‘Worlds of Labor’ Conference, Salvador, 29 November.

April 2014: ‘The Imperial/Global ‘connectedness’ of the Small Railway Town of Jamalpur, India, 1860s–1880s’, European Social Science History Conference, Vienna, 25 April.

March 2014: ‘Contract, Work and Resistance: Boatmen in Early Colonial Eastern India, 1760s–1850s’, Invited lecture, ZMO, Berlin, 28 March.

September 2013: ‘Colonial Walks: Between ‘Zones of Contact’ and ‘Zone of Comfort’ in India’, UNC – Chapel Hill, 12-13 September.

September 2013: ‘Fluvial Landscape and the State: Property and the Gangetic Diaras in Colonial India, 1790s–1890s’, Invited lecture, Nalanda University, Delhi, 04 September.

June 2012: ‘Between ‘Paiswa’ (money) and ‘Sawatiya’ (second-wife): Womanhood, Migration and Print in Late Colonial India’, Association of Asian Studies, Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Japan, June 30-July 01.

March 2012: ‘Skill, Work and Work-Culture: Some Examples from Railway Workshop in Colonial India’, Ninth International Conference on Labour History, 22-24 March, New Delhi.

March 2012: ‘Between Lease and Permanent Settlement: Gangetic Diaras and the Colonial State, 1790s–1880s’, Invited Lecture, CHS, JNU, 21 March, New Delhi.

July 2011: ‘The Missing ‘raiyats’: Social History of Mid-Gangetic Fluvial Agrarian Space, 1780s–1880s’, International Conference on ‘The Politics of Poverty and the Politics of the Poor in Modern South Asia’, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Goettingen University, 6-8 July, Germany.

September 2010: ‘The Role of Sadhus in Popular Mobilizations in Colonial India’, Workshop on ‘Indian Agrarian and Peasant History – a Challenge to Current Research’ in memory of Petra Heidrich, ZMO, Berlin, 23rd September.

July 2010: ‘Rangila Rasool’: Satirizing Muhammad, Disciplining Hindus, 1870s–1920s’, 21st European Conference on South Asian Studies, Bonn, 26-29 July.

March 2010: ‘Travelling sociabilities and rituals: Europeans journeying along the Ganga and the limits of the Picturesque gaze, 1760s–1860s’, Association for Asian Studies (AAS), Philadelphia.

June 2008: Participant, Transnational Labour, Transnational Methods, Global Labour History Summer Institute, New College, University of Toronto, 8-14 June.

Panel and Conference Organisation

February 2017: ‘Servants’ Pasts, 16th–20th Centuries’, CSDS, New Delhi. 

July 2016: ‘Servants’ Past: Interrogating Forms of Domestic Service, 1600–1850’, panel at the 24th European Conference on South Asian Studies, Warsaw, 27-30 July.

July 2014: ‘Reinterpreting South Asian State-Formation: Communication-Spatialities and State Structures’, panel at the 23rd European Conference on South Asian Studies, Zurich, 23-26 July.

April 2013: ‘Work, labour and skill – Historical Meanings and Changes’, panel at the 27th British Association of South Asian Studies, Leeds, 03-05 April.

October 2012: International conference on ‘Roads as Routes to Modernity’, ZMO, 05-06 October.

May 2011: 2nd Y-SASM conference, ‘En-gendering and de-gendering South Asian Studies’, Humboldt University, Berlin 19-21 May.

July 2010: 1st Y-SASM conference, ‘Identifying New Themes in South Asian History’, ZMO, Berlin, 15-17 July.

Review and Expert Activity

Reviewed book manuscripts for: Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Routledge.

Reviewed article submissions for peer-reviewed journals: Comparative Studies in Society and History, Environment and History, Modern Asian Studies, Indian Economic and Social History Review, South Asian History and Culture, Transfers, Global Media and Communication & The Historical Journal.

Project evaluation: for ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council).

M.A. Degree and Part-time Ph.D. supervision at University of York and Ph.D external examination at Delhi University.

Series Editor, New Perspectives on South Asian History, Orient Blackswan, Delhi.

Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Transport History.


Member, The Association of Indian Labour Historians.
Member, European Association of South Asian Studies.
Co-founder of Y-SASM (Young South Asia Scholars Meet).


English (working language); Hindi (mother tongue); Bengali (intermediate level); Bhojpuri (fluent).