Prathama Banerjee


Prathama Banerjee is a historian, trained at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.  Her current work is on histories of the ‘political’ in colonial and post-colonial India. Her work seeks to tell the story of how the political emerged as a distinct domain and/or mode of thought, action, and subjectivity in modern times.

Banerjee’s earlier work was on the Politics of Time, in which she looked at the emergence of the modern discipline of history in colonial Bengal from an encounter with ‘peoples without history’ - tribes, aborigines, primitives - as they were variously called. She mapped this encounter in different discursive and material sites such as that of calendrical reforms, history and geography texts, anthropology, poetry, indentured labour markets, agrarian credit markets, and so on.

Apart from history, Banerjee is also interested in political theory, philosophy, and literature.  At a more precise level, her interest lies in the cusp between the philosophical and the literary - the interface which she argues historically produced traditions of political thinking in India. 

Along with other colleagues, Banerjee is currently involved in an exploration of the history of concepts in modern Indian languages - a project that brings together questions of theory, literariness, language, and translations around the life of concepts in India.

Email: prathama(at)

Publications (Click to Read)

State (and) violence

Writing the Adivasi: Some historiographical notes

Between the political and the nonpolitical: the Vivekananda moment and a critique of the social in colonial Bengal, 1890s–1910s

Chanakya/Kautilya: History, Philosophy, Theater and the Twentieth-century Political