Dr. Nitin Sinha

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

Telefon: +49-(0)30-80307-133
Regionaler Schwerpunkt: Südasien
Dr. Nitin Sinha
Dr. Nitin Sinha


Senior Research Fellow, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (Centre for Modern Oriental Studies), Berlin. Principal Investigator on the European Research Council-Starting Grant (ERC-StG) funded project ‘Domestic Servants in Colonial South Asia’.
2017 - 2018
Visiting Lectureship in Modern History, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Germany.
2012 - 2015
Lecturer in Modern History, Department of History, University of York, UK.
2008 - 2012
Research Fellow, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin. Project titled ‘The Ganga: Landscape, Community, Religion, 1760s–1960s’.
2011 - 2012
Visiting Lectureship in Modern South Asia, South Asia Institute (SAI), University of Heidelberg, Germany.
2010 - 2011
Visiting Lectureship in Modern South Asia, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin.


2003 - 2007
Ph.D, South Asian History, Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.
2002 - 2003
M. Phil, Modern Indian History, Centre for Historical Studies (CHS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.
2000 - 2002
M.A., Modern Indian History, CHS, JNU (first grade).
1997 - 2000
B.A., History (Hons), Patna College, Patna University, India (first grade).


Associate Fellow, IGK, ‘Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History’, re:work, Humboldt University, Berlin.
2013 - 2014
10-month fellowship at IGK, ‘Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History’, re:work, Humboldt University, Berlin.
2003 - 2007
Felix Foundation Scholarship for Ph.D.
SOAS Ph.D Bursary.
SARAI Studentship, Centre for Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi.

Grants and Awards

2015 - 2018
Principal Investigator, European Research Council Starting Grant (ERC-StG) for the project ‘Domestic Servants in Colonial South Asia’.
Best paper award in the section ‘Modern India and the Countries other than India’, Indian History Congress, India.
2002 - 2003
Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) Fieldwork Research Grant Fellowship.



2012, Communication and Colonialism in Eastern India, Bihar: 1760s–1880s, Anthem Press, London and New York, [ppb 2014; Indian edition 2014].

Edited Volumes

2021, Sinha, Nitin; Kumar, Prabhat (Ed.)Lesser Lives - Stories of Domestic Servants in India, Pan Macmillan, India, Delhi, 2021, 224 p..

2019, Nitin Sinha, Nitin Varma & Pankaj Jha, eds., Servants’ Pasts, 16th–18th Centuries, Vol. 1, Orient Blackswan, New Delhi.

2019, Nitin Sinha & Nitin Varma, eds., Servants’ Pasts, 18th–20th Centuries, Vol. 2, Orient Blackswan, New Delhi.

Research Articles (refereed)

2021, "Genealogies of “Verification: Policing the Master–Servant Relationship in Colonial and Postcolonial India", International Review of Social History, 1-33. 

2021, "Domestic Servants and Master – Servant Regulations in Colonial Calcutta, 1750s–1810s", Past and Present.

2021, 'Who Is (Not) a Servant, Anyway? Domestic servants and service in early colonial India*', Modern Asian Studies , 55, pp. 152-206. Open Access

2018, ‘The Idea of Home in a World of Circulation: Steam, Women & Migration through Folksongs’, International Review of Social History, 63, 2, 203–238. Open access.

2017, ‘Infrastructural Governance and Social History: Roads in Colonial and Postcolonial India’, History Compass, 15, 9, pp. 1–10.

2016, ‘Engines vs. Elephants: Train Tales of India Modernity’, Interdisziplinäre Zeitschrift für Südasienforschung 1, pp. 112–130. Open access

2015, ‘Railway Imperialism:A Small Town Perspective on Global History, Jamalpur, 1860s–1900s’, Comparativ: A Journal of Global History and Comparative Studies, 25, 4, pp. 17–34.

2014, ‘Contract, Work and Resistance: Boatmen in Early Colonial Eastern India, 1760s–1850s’, International Review of Social History, 59, S22, pp. 11–43.

2014, ‘Fluvial Landscape and the State: Property and the Gangetic Diaras in Colonial India, 1790s–1890s’, Environment and History, 20, 2, pp. 209–37.

2013, With Katharina Lange & Sebastian Prange, ‘Reflecting on ‘Muslim Worlds – World of Islam’ from a Spatial Perspective’, ZMO Programmatic Texts, No. 7.

2012, ‘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, pp. 317–47.

2008, ‘World of Workers’ Politics: Some Issues of Railway Workers in Colonial India, 1918–1922’, Modern Asian Studies, 42, 5, pp. 999–1033.

2008, ‘Mobility, Control and Criminality in Colonial India, 1760s–1850s’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 45, 1, pp. 1–33.

Research Articles (non-refereed)

2016, ‘The Making of India’s Modernity’, International School of Social History Newsletter, no. 73, Spring, pp. 24–5.

2014, ‘Opinion’ and ‘Violence’: Whiteness, Empire and State-formation in Colonial India’, South Asia Chronicle, 4, pp. 322–51.

2012, ‘Continuity and Change: The Eighteenth Century and Indian Historiography’, South Asia Chronicle, 2, pp. 416–40.

2008, ‘Anxiety, Fear and Change: 1857 and Colonial Rule in Bihar’, Prajna Bharati: The Journal of the K. P. Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna, 14, pp. 33–50.

2007, ‘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.

2007, ‘Contest and Communication: The Geography of Rebellion in Bihar’, Biblio: A Review of Books: A Special Issue on 1857, xii, March–April.

Book Chapters

2021, Questioning Railway-Centrism: Infrastructural Governance and Cultures of the Colonial Transport System, 1760s-1900s. In: Fischer-Tiné, Harald; Framke, Maria (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of the History of Colonialism in South Asia, Routledge, London, p. 281-292.

2019, “Servant Problem’ and the ‘Social Subaltern’ of Early Colonial Calcutta", in Nitin Sinha, Nitin Varma & Pankaj Jha, eds., Servants’ Pasts, 16th–18th Centuries, Vol. 1, Orient Blackswan, New Delhi.

2018, ‘The Home and the World in Indian Folksongs of Marriage and Migration’, in James Williams & Felicitas Hentschke, eds., To Be at Home: House, Work, and Self in Modern World, De Gruyter, Oldenbourgh, pp. 154–60.

2017, ‘Measuring Disaster?: ‘Everydayness’ of Fluvial Landscape and Colonial State in Gangetic Diaras, 1790s–1880s’, in Gerrit Schenk, ed., Historical Disaster Experiences: Towards aComparative and Transcultural History of Disasters Across Asia and Europe, Springer Press, Cham, pp. 369–78.

2016, ‘Law, Agro-ecology and Colonialism in mid-Gangetic India, 1770s–1910s’, in Gunnel Cederlöf & Sanjukta Das Gupta, eds., Subjects, Citizens, and Law: Colonial and Independent India, Routledge, London, pp. 163–190.  

2009, ‘Protest and Mobilization: Aspects of Workers’ Resistance and Control’, in Marcel van der Linden and Prabhu Mohapatra, eds., Labour Matters: Towards Global Histories: Studies in Honour of Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Tulika, New Delhi, pp. 280–94.

2007, ‘Forged Linkages and the ‘Spectre’ of 1857: A Few Instances from Bihar’, in Sharmistha Gooptu & Boria Majumdar, eds., Revisiting 1857: History, Myth, Memory, Roli Books, Delhi, pp. 52–69.

Select Book Reviews

2018, Jon Wilson, ‘India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire’, Reviews in History,

2017, Clive Dewey, ‘Steamboats on the Indus: The Limits of Western Technological Superiority in South Asia’, The English Historical Journal, December.

2014, Valeska Huber, ‘Channelling Mobilities: Migration and Globalisation in the Suez Canal Region and Beyond, 1869-1914’, The International Journal of Maritime History, 26, 4.

Lata Singh, ‘Popular Translations of Nationalism: Bihar, 1920-22’,

2011, Iftekhar Iqbal, ‘The Bengal Delta: Ecology, State and Social Change, 1840-1943’, South Asia Chronicle, 1.

Contributions to Public Media

Professional Expert Services

  • Series Editor, New Perspectives on South Asian History, Orient Blackswan, Delhi.
  • Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Transport History.
  • Book manuscript review for: Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Routledge.
  • Article submission review 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, Journal of Women’s History, Histor
  • Project evaluation: for Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), UK.
  • Ph.D external examination, University of Delhi, India.
  • Co-founder of Young South Asia Scholars Meet (Y-SASM).

Panel & Conference Organization (select)

April 2018
‘Servants’ Pasts, 16th–20th Centuries’, 2nd International Conference on Domestic Servants in Colonial South Asia, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
April 2018
‘Domestic Service and Regulation in Colonial Societies’, panel and roundtable at the European Social Science History Congress, Belfast, UK.
February 2017
‘Servants’ Pasts, 16th–20th Centuries’, 1st International Conference on Domestic Servants in Colonial South Asia, Centre for the Studies of Developing Societies, New Delhi.
July 2016
‘Servants’ Past: Interrogating Forms of Domestic Service, 1600–1850’, panel at the 24th European Conference on South Asian Studies, Warsaw, Poland.
April 2014
‘Reinterpreting South Asian State-Formation: Communication-Spatialities and State Structures’, panel at the 23rd European Conference on South Asian Studies, Zurich, Switzerland.
April 2013
‘Work, Labour and Skill – Historical Meanings and Changes’, panel at the 27th British Association of South Asian Studies, Leeds, UK.
October 2012
International conference on ‘Roads as Routes to Modernity’, ZMO, Berlin, Germany.

Invited Lectures (select)

‘Who is (not) a Servant, Anyway?: Domestic Servants and Service in Early Colonial India’, Presidency University, Kolkata.
‘Who are Servants? Early Colonial State and Regimes of Regulation’, Centre for the History of Emotions, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin.
‘Domestic Servants in Colonial India, 1700s–1900s’, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen.
‘Roads in Past and Present of India’, Nalanda University.
‘Railway Imperialism: A ‘Global’ History of Jamalpur, 1860s–1910s’, Presidency University, Kolkata.
‘Contract, Work and Resistance: Boatmen in Early Colonial Eastern India, 1760s–1850s’, ZMO, Berlin.
‘Between Lease and Permanent Settlement: Gangetic Diaras and the Colonial State, 1790s–1880s’, CHS, JNU, New Delhi.

Invited Presentations & Engagement as Discussant (select)

Discussant, ‘Aspiring Mobility in a Globalized World’, re:work, Humboldt University, Berlin, June. Paper presentation, ‘A social history of industrial skill in colonial India’, in the conference, ‘Taking ‘Skill’ Seriously: Towards the History of Occupational Training in Modern India’, Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, March. Public talk in a panel, ‘Deconstructing ‘Vernaculars’: Complexities of Resistance and Identity Formations’, Lady Shriram College, Delhi University, March.
Discussant, ‘Infrastructure: Labour and Nature in South Asia’, European Conference of South Asian Studies (ECSAS), Paris, July.
Paper presentation, ‘A Day in Servant’s Life’, in the conference, ‘Time and Money: Themes in Labour Relations’, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen University, Göttingen, December. Discussant, ‘History, Memory and the Archives of Experience: Oral Histories of Labour in South Asia’, Berlin, May.
Discussant, ‘Free and Unfree Labour’ in the conference, ‘Six Years of re:work’, Berlin, June.


  • European Association of South Asian Studies.
  • The Association of Indian Labour Historians.
  • European Social Science History Congress.


  • English (professional)
  • Hindi (mother tongue)
  • Bengali (intermediate)
  • Bhojpuri (fluent)
  • Urdu (basic)