Sanjay Subrahmanyam

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Sanjay Subrahmanyam (born 21 May 1961) is an Indian historian who specialises in the early modern period. He is the author of several books and publications. He holds the Irving and Jean Stone Endowed Chair in Social Sciences at UCLA which he joined in 2004.[1]


Sanjay Subramanyam is the son of K. Subrahmanyam and his wife Sulochana.[2] His father, K. Subrahmanyam, was a prominent expert on strategic affairs. Sanjay has two brothers, namely Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who retired from the Indian Foreign Service as its head, and serves now as India's foreign minister; and S. Vijay Kumar, who followed their father into the highly prestigeous Indian Administrative Service.[3] Sanjay is married to a UCLA historian of modern France, Caroline Ford.

Sanjay Subrahmanyam did his BA and MA in economics from the University of Delhi. He received his PhD in 1987 in economics from the Delhi School of Economics on the topic of "Trade and the Regional Economy of South India, c. 1550–1650".[1]


Dr. Subrahmanyam taught economic history and comparative economic development at the Delhi School of Economics till 1995. He then moved to Paris as Directeur d'études in the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, where he taught history of the Mughal empire, and the comparative history of early modern empires till 2002. In 2002 Dr. Subrahmanyam moved to Oxford as the first holder of the newly created Chair in Indian History and Culture. In 2004 he became the Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair in Indian History at UCLA, and a year later, in 2005, he became the founding Director of UCLA's Center for India and South Asia.[2] In 2014 he was appointed to the Irving and Jean Stone Endowed Chair in Social Sciences at UCLA.

  • What in the world is Sanjay Subramahnyam doing here? He is neither an expert on me nor on Belgian politics, so no self-respecting encyclopedia would cite his layman’s opinion. Moreover, he has an exceptionally big axe to grind. In my book Ayodhya: the Case against the Temple (2003), I have devoted a chapter to him and exposed his partisan and unscholarly treatment of former Indian Express editor and the BJP Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie. Since he failed to refute me on contents, he tried to get back at me by repeating a convenient rumour he had picked up. So he wrote an article against my person, predictably displaying his ignorance, which I thoroughly refuted in a chapter of my book The Saffron Swastika (2006). This left him smarting for even more revenge. He is just about the last person an encyclopedia would quote. Finally, in your lemma on him, you conveniently omit Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s single claim to fame: that he served as poster-boy for the BJP Government’s “saffronization of education” by his nomination to the Oxford-based chair of Indian Studies which the BJP created. This was the only time that Sanjay Subrahmanyam made news headlines, so as an encyclopedia, Wikipedia had a duty to mention it in its lemma on him. In my books, the incident was proof of the BJP’s spinelessness and stupidity, since it used this opportunity to prove (in vain) its “secularism” by nominating one of its known opponents, instead of creating status and influence for one of its sympathizers...
    • Elst, K: The Wikipedia lemma on "Koenraad Elst": a textbook example of defamation (2013)
  • In Hindu activist circles, this can go quite far. It has always been a practice of the Sangh Parivar to invite enemies with status rather than friends without status. Thus, in 2002, when the BJP was suspected of planning the "saffronization" of education, it created a chair for Indian Studies in Oxford and nominated one of its known critics, the militantly secularist professor Sanjay Subramaniam, to show just how secularist it was. Imagine: the poster-boy for "saffronization" was a known anti-Hindu. Living in a fool's paradise, the party genuinely expected to be applauded for this act of secularism, yet none of the secularists gave up lambasting the BJP as "a threat to India's secular fabric", least of all its own nominee. But at least he had status...
    • Elst, K. What have i done part 2
  • But the blot on the encyclopedia’s fair name is not just in the wrongness of the statement, but in its partisan and non-encyclopedic nature. Among other things, Sanjay Subramaniam is neither an expert on me nor on Belgian politics, so he should not have been quoted in an encyclopedia at any rate. Who is this Sanjay Subramaniam? He was exposed in my book Ayodhya, the Case against the Temple, ch.4.3. as just another Nehruvian academic who does what his kind does best, viz. bluffing and lying...
    • Elst, K. The argumentative Hindu (2012)
  • Ayodhya, the Case against the Temple, ch.4.3. [.....]
    • Elst, K. Ayodhaya, the Case against the temple

Selected publications[edit]

  • The Political Economy of Commerce: Southern India, 1500–1650, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • (Ed.) Merchants, Markets and the State in Early Modern India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  • Improvising Empire: Portuguese Trade and Settlement in the Bay of Bengal, 1500–1700, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  • (with V. Narayana Rao and David Shulman), Symbols of Substance: Court and State in Nayaka-period Tamil Nadu, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992.
  • The Portuguese Empire in Asia, 1500–1700: A Political and Economic History, London and New York: Longman, 1993.
  • (Ed.) Money and the Market in India, 1100–1700, Delhi: Oxford University Press, (Series: Themes in Indian History), 1994.
  • (Ed.) Merchant Networks in the Early Modern World (volume 8 of An Expanding World). Aldershot: Variorum Books, 1996.
  • (Ed. with Kaushik Basu) Unravelling the Nation: Sectarian Conflict and India's Secular Identity, New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1996.
  • (Ed. with Burton Stein) Institutions and Economic Change in South Asia, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • (Ed. with Muzaffar Alam) The Mughal State, 1526–1750, Delhi: Oxford University Press (Series: Themes in Indian History), 1998.
  • (Ed.) Sinners and Saints: The Successors of Vasco da Gama, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Penumbral Visions: Making Polities in Early Modern South India, Delhi/Ann Arbor: Oxford University Press/University of Michigan Press, 2001.
  • (with V. Narayana Rao and David Shulman) Textures of Time: Writing History in South India, 1600–1800, New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001.
  • (ed. with Claude Markovits and Jacques Pouchepadass) Society and Circulation: Mobile People and Itinerant Cultures in South Asia, 1750–1950, New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2003.
  • (ed.) Land, Politics and Trade in South Asia, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Explorations in Connected History: From the Tagus to the Ganges, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Explorations in Connected History: Mughals and Franks, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • (ed. with Kenneth McPherson) From Biography to History: Essays in the History of Portuguese Asia (1500–1800), New Delhi: TransBooks, 2006.
  • (with Muzaffar Alam) Indo-Persian Travels in the Age of Discoveries, 1400–1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • (Ed. with David Armitage) The Age of Revolutions in Global Context, c. 1760-1840, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • (with Muzaffar Alam) Writing the Mughal World, Ranikhet/New York: Permanent Black/Columbia University Press, 2011.
  • Three Ways to be Alien: Travails and Encounters in the Early Modern World, (Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures), Waltham (Mass.): Brandeis University Press, 2011; French translation: Comment être un étranger : Goa – Ispahan – Venise, XVIe-XVIIIe siècles, Paris: Editions Alma, 2013.
  • Courtly Encounters: Translating Courtliness and Violence in Early Modern Eurasia (Mary Flexner Lectures), Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012.
  • Impérios em Concorrência: Histórias Conectadas nos Séculos XVI e XVII, Lisbon: Imprensa de Ciências Sociais, 2012.
  • Is 'Indian Civilization' a Myth?: Fictions and Histories, Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2013 (Revised French version: Leçons indiennes: Itinéraires d'un historien, Paris: Editions Alma, 2015).
  • Aux origines de l'histoire globale (Leçon inaugurale au Collège de France), Paris: Fayard, 2014.
  • Mondi connessi: La storia oltre l'eurocentrismo, sec. XVI-XVIII, Rome: Carocci, 2014.
  • (Co-editor) The Cambridge World History, Vol. VI: The Construction of a Global World, 1400-1800 CE, Books 1 & 2, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015 (forthcoming).
  • (Ed. with Henning Trüper and Dipesh Chakrabarty) Historical Teleologies in the Modern World, London: Bloomsbury, 2015 (forthcoming).
  • Empires Between Islam and Christianity, 1500-1800 , New York: State University of New York Press, 2019.


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  1. 1.0 1.1 "Faculty — History". Archived from the original on 15 October 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shah, Angilee. "UCLA Center for India and South Asia :: Hard-working and prolific scholar to head new center". Retrieved 7 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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