• Jayita Sarkar

    Historian & Author

  • Biography

    Jayita Sarkar is Senior Lecturer in Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow. Her research and teaching areas are global and transnational histories of decolonisation, capitalism, nuclear infrastructures, and South Asia.


    Before joining Glasgow, she was an Assistant Professor at Boston University, a Niehaus Fellow at Dartmouth College, Fellow at the Weatherhead Initiative in Global History, Ernest May Fellow in History and Policy, and Stanton Postdoctoral Fellow, all at Harvard University.


    Born and raised in India, educated in France and Switzerland, she lived and worked in northeastern United States for a decade before relocating to Scotland. She lives in Edinburgh with a sociable Scottish Straight cat and an exhuberant English Springer spaniel.

  • India’s nuclear program is often misunderstood as an inward-looking endeavor of secretive technocrats. In Ploughshares and Swords, Jayita Sarkar challenges this received wisdom, narrating a global story of India’s nuclear program during its first forty years. The book foregrounds the program’s civilian and military features by probing its close relationship with the space program. Through nuclear and space technologies, India’s leaders served the technopolitical aims of economic modernity and the geopolitical goals of deterring adversaries.


    The politically savvy, transnationally-connected scientists and engineers who steered the program obtained technologies, materials, and information through a variety of state and nonstate actors from Europe and North America, including both superpowers. They thus maneuvered around Cold War politics and the chokepoints of the nonproliferation regime. Hyperdiversification increased choices for the leaders of the nuclear program but reduced democratic accountability at home. The nuclear program became a consensus-enforcing device in the name of the nation.


    Ploughshares and Swords is a provocative new history with global implications. It shows how geopolitical and technopolitical visions influence decisions about the nation after decolonization.


    The book has been positively reviewed in Cold War History, Choice, Kirkus, Toynbee Prize, and Passport among others. Reviews are forthcoming in Diplomatic History, Technology and Culture, H-Diplo, and elsewhere.


  • New Book

    Connected Partitions.

    From South Asia to the World

    In Progress, Invited by Cambridge University Press

    Connected Partitions centres statelessness and precarious citizenships to study how the idea and practice of territorial divisions spread in the twentieth century from the South Asian subcontinent to the rest of the world through imperial statecraft and international organisations, such as the League of Nations and United Nations.



    Relevant publication:

    Jayita Sarkar, “Battlefields to Borderlands: Rohingyas between Global War and Decolonisation,” in South Asia Unbound: New International Histories of the Subcontinent, edited by Bérénice Guyot-Réchard and Elisabeth Leake (Leiden, Netherlands: Leiden University Press, 2023), 103-123.



  • New Book

    Atomic Capitalism.

    A Global History

    Under contract, Princeton University Press, America in the World Series, Publication expected in 2025.

    U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki created, in the words of George Orwell, a world “horribly stable” and “a peace that is no peace,” increasing power of the state over the individual and of the United States over the world. Atomic Capitalism critically examines this view and assumptions about preponderance of the United States by placing nuclear infrastructures in a global and transnational perspective. It is a global history of nuclear infrastructures examined through the materiality of the uranium cycle — uranium mining, nuclear weapons, and nuclear energy— to trace their extractivist, surveillant, and inegalitarian nature in Euro-American late imperialism and its racialized and gendered nature of exploitation. The book emphasizes political history, history of capitalism, and history of technology, but also feature perspectives from environmental history and social anthropology.



    Relevant publication:

    Jayita Sarkar, “Nuclear Reaganomics: Corporate Lobbying after Three Mile Island, 1979-1985,” in Diplomacy and Capitalism: The Political Economy of U.S. Foreign Relations edited by Christopher R. W. Dietrich (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022), 206-220.


  • Teaching


    ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR of Economic & Social History

    University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK

    July 2022—present


    ESH 4087: Global South Asia, Undergraduate Honours: Global and local entanglements in economic, social, and political spheres in the South Asian subcontinent since the 19th century to the present.


    SPS 5063: Nuclear Technologies in History, Politics, and Society, Postgraduate Taught: An historical, sociological, and political immersion into “technopolitics of nuclear things,” from mining, energy, weapons to waste.


    ESH 5069: Decolonisation & International Economic Relations, Postgraduate Taught: Global histories of capitalism, empire, and decolonisation to study the sources of inequality in the modern world.


    ESH 1A & 1B: Team-taught modules on global histories of inequalities, including empires, slavery, anticolonialism, development politics, and cold wars.





    ASSISTANT PROFESSOR of International Relations
    Boston University, Massachusetts, USA

    July 2017– June 2022




    Decolonisation through Archives


    Decolonisation through Archives will be launched in the spring of 2023, supported by the at the University of Glasgow's Chancellor's Fund Award (2022–24) and Public Engagement Fund 2023 of the School of Social and Political Sciences.


    Comprising a curated podcast series and archival fellows programme involving PhD students and postdocs, it builds on strengths of Glasgow specifically and Scotland generally to bring archival evidence to the research and teaching of empires, colonialism, and capitalism.


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