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Dr Sugata Nandi awarded the SHL 2019 Visiting Research Fellowship


We are delighted to announce that Dr Sugata Nandi has been awarded the 2019 Visiting Research Fellowship at Senate House Library, in partnership with the Friends of Senate House Library. He began his research on 1 July and will be with us until 30 September 2019, making use of the Library’s world-class collections to study the globalisation of Indian magic.

Dr Nandi's proposed work will be the first to address the history of Indian magic as part of the larger history of creation of an Orientalist narrative leading to India’s characterisation as a distant magical land in the modern world. He has shortlisted over one hundred books, rare and available for reference only, and a few silent films from the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, in Senate House Library for this research. His work will culminate in a book spanning the period 1790-1950, examining fantastic accounts of magic unique to India, many of which reached the West through travellers’ tales that increased enormously with the rise of popular print, in Britain especially, from early nineteenth century.

We look forward to seeing the results which will be presented in research seminars here at University of London at a later date.

About Dr Sugata Nandi:

Sugata Nandi read History at the Presidency College, Kolkata, and the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, from where he earned doctoral degree in 2015. He is employed as Assistant Professor of History at the West Bengal State University, Kolkata and has taught at two colleges earlier. Currently he is working on the history of globalisation of Indian magic from the late eighteenth to the mid twentieth century. It is a study of how the West Orientalized India by appropriating aspects of its religion, culture and forms of entertainment as magic, and how this in turn generated tensions within Orientalism itself. Nandi started working on this subject from last year, when he was awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, The University of Edinburgh. His earlier subject of research was history of crime. He worked on violent lower class urban criminals of twentieth century colonial Calcutta, called the goondas. His doctoral thesis was a study of the goondas, their complex interactions with the world of institutional politics and strategies of police surveillance meant to suppress them. He was a Fulbright Nehru Professional and Doctoral Fellow in 2011-12 at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. Prior to that he had successfully completed three urban history research projects funded by the University Grants Commission of India (2004-06) and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi (2006 and 2007). He has published five research articles so far and two more are in the pipeline. He has presented papers at twenty international conferences in India and abroad. He lives in Kolkata with wife, Maitreyee, and daughter, Ela.