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Sumathi Ramaswamy, Prof. Ph.D. (Berkeley)


Sumathi Ramaswamy, Prof. Ph.D. (Berkeley)


  • Professor of History, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
  • Advisory Board Member, Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context"

Contact information

Duke University
Durham, NC 27708

About Sumathi Ramaswamy

Sumathi Ramaswamy was Professor of History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and as of July 2007, is Professor of History and International Comparative Studies at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA. She is a cultural historian of South Asia and the British empire with a research focus on visual studies, the history of cartography, and gender. Her work in popular visual history has led her to co-establish a trans-national digital network for popular South Asian visual culture called Tasveer Ghar.

Her interest in visual culture began in the 1990s when she wrote about the visualizing of the Tamil language as goddess, queen and mother in her book "Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India" (University of California Press, 1997). She also analyzed popular visual representations of Hindi as a demoness in her study of the demonization of the language by Tamil nationalists in an essay entitled "Battling the Demoness in Tamil India." In Crispin Bates (ed.), Beyond Representations: Colonial and Post-Colonial Constructions of Indian Identity. Delhi: Oxford University Press (2006), pp. 123-150. Her most recent monograph is titled "The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India" (Duke University Press, 2010).

She is editor of "Beyond Appearances: Visual Practices and Ideologies in Modern India" (Sage, 2003) and "Barefoot Across the Nation: Maqbool Fida Husain and the Idea of India" (Routledge, 2010), and coeditor (with Martin Jay) of "Empires of Vision: A Reader" (Duke University Press, 2014).

Sumathi Ramaswamy has recently completed a digital humanities project in which she tracks the itineraries of the terrestrial globe in India: