• Jayita Sarkar

    Historian & Author

  • Bio

    Jayita Sarkar is Associate Professor of Global History of Inequalities at the University of Glasgow's School of Social and Political Sciences. Her research and teaching areas are global and transnational histories of decolonisation, capitalism, nuclear infrastructures, South Asia, and the United States.

     

    Her first book, Ploughshares and Swords. India’s Nuclear Program in the Global Cold War (Cornell University Press, 2022), was awarded the 2024 Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies and 2023 Honorable Mention for Global Development Studies Book Award from the International Studies Association. The book can be freely read here.

     

    She is currently completing her second book, Atomic Capitalism. A Global History (under contract with Princeton University Press, America in the World series). It is a 100-year history of nuclear sites, from mining to energy to weapons-testing, retold through histories of capitalism, empire, and decolonisation.

     

    Her third book-length project is titled, Partitions: A Global History of Territoriality. On adjacent themes of territorial separations, she is co-editing the volume, Partition Machine: Legacies of Territoriality in a Violent World, for Oxford University Press/British Academy.

     

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

     

    Born and raised in India, educated in France and Switzerland, she lived and worked in northeastern United States for nearly a decade before relocating to the United Kingdom. These days, she lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with a frisky US-born Scottish longhair cat.

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    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.

     

    Book Cover Art: Galen Passen

  • Partition Machine @ Glasgow

    August 10-11, 2023

    Funded by 2023 British Academy Conference Grant (BAC23\220114)

    and Scottish Council on Global Affairs

    BA Conference Poster, Partition Machine, 2023

    Partition Machine was a two-day conference at the University of Glasgow on the centennial of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne to examine how the Treaty was the genesis of the norm for territorial divisions as a “solution” to protracted political violence in the world. The conference foregrounds new research on territorial divisions, their travelogues, and worldmaking influence in order to better understand the world that partitions have made in the short twentieth century.

     

    A selection of conference papers are currently being developed into an edited volume, provisionally titled, Partition Machine: Legacies of Territoriality in a Violent World, for submission to the Oxford University Press' Proceedings of the British Academy.