• Jayita Sarkar

    Historian & Author



    • Connected partitions

    • Decolonisation

    • Global histories of capitalism

    • Nuclear infrastructures

  • Biography

    Jayita Sarkar will be Associate Professor of Economic & Social History at the University of Glasgow from July 2022. She is a tenure-track Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University until June 2022. A historian of the late 19th century to the present, her research and teaching areas are connected partitions, decolonisation, global histories of capitalism, and nuclear infrastructures.


    Her first book, Ploughshares and Swords. India’s Nuclear Program in the Global Cold War (Cornell University Press, forthcoming, July 2022, 300pp., paperback) examines India’s nuclear and space programs from the 1940s to the 1980s through the prisms of technopolitics and territoriality. It shows how the programs served goals of economic modernity and geopolitics, with consequences for democratic accountability.


    Currently, she is working on two book manuscripts. Atomic Capitalism. A Global History explores the role of corporations and governments in land expropriation, labor exploitation, and debt generation from the 1890s to the 2000s through mining, explosions, energy, and waste sites of nuclear infrastructures. In 2020-21, she was a visiting fellow at Harvard University's Weatherhead Initiative on Global History and an Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy to make progress on Atomic Capitalism.


    Partition Machine. From South Asia to the World is a study of entangled social, economic, and political histories of partitions from the 1890s to the 1970s. By focusing on stateless people, it investigates the travel itinerary of the idea and practice of territorial divisions from the borderlands of South Asia to the world. In the summer of 2022, she will be a nominated fellow at the University of Edinburgh's Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities to make progress on Partition Machine.


    She holds a PhD in History from the Graduate Institute Geneva in Switzerland and an MRes. in Sociology from the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne in France. She was born and raised in Calcutta, India.

  • Book

    Ploughshares and Swords. 

    India's Nuclear Program in the Global Cold War


    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.


    More information: www.PloughsharesandSwords.com

    Cover credit: www.GalenPassen.com




  • Teaching


    ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR of Economic & Social History

    University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK

    From July 2022—


    Global South Asia, Undergraduate Honours, Semester 1, 2022: Global and local entanglements in economic, social, and political spheres in the subcontinent of South Asia since the 19th century to the present. 


    Decolonisation & International Economic Relations, Postgraduate Taught, Semester 2, 2023: Global histories of capitalism, empire, and decolonisation to study the sources of inequality in the modern world. 


    Convenor, Research Methods in Economic & Social History (ESH 3001 & ESH 3002) & Studies in Economic & Social History (ESH 3003)


    New courses under development:

    Borderlands & Statelessness, Undergraduate Honours

    Nuclear Infrastructures, Postgraduate Taught



    ASSISTANT PROFESSOR of International Relations

    Boston University, Massachusetts, USA

    July 2017– June 2022


    Global South Asia. IR377

    Undergraduate elective
    Spring 2022 (21 students)
    Spring 2020 (29 students)
    Fall 2017 (5 students)


    History, Policy, & Statecraft. IR539

    Graduate and advanced undergraduate seminar
    Spring 2022 (20 students)
    Summer 2020 (17 students)


    International Nuclear Politics. IR315

    Undergraduate elective
    Fall 2021 (49 students)
    Summer 2021 (43 students)
    Spring 2020 (44 students)
    Fall 2018 (40 students)
    Spring 2018 (47 students)


  • Global Decolonisation


    The Global Decolonisation Initiative, founded and directed by Dr. Jayita Sarkar is a multidisciplinary research endeavor that brings together students and staff across the university to understand the ongoing processes of decolonization in the contemporary world. Initially hosted at Boston University from May 2020 until May 2022, the Initiative will be reconstituted going forward. Stay tuned for the 2023 iteration of Global Decolonisation by joining the mailing list and following on Twitter.