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Sugata Bose

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Sugata Bose

Sugata Bose
সুগত বসু
Sugata Bose speaks at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 30 April 2011
Native name Sugata Bose
Born (1956-09-07) 7 September 1956
Kolkata, India
Nationality Indian
Ethnicity Bengali
Education BA Presidency College, Kolkata
PhD University of Cambridge
Occupation Historian
Employer Harvard University
Notable work A Hundred Horizons, His Majesty's Opponent
Religion Hinduism
Partner(s) Ayesha Jalal

Krishna Bose, Sisir Kumar Bose
Sugata Bose
Member of Parliament
for Jadavpur
Assumed office
Preceded by Kabir Suman

Sugata Bose (Bengali: সুগত বসু; born 7 September 1956) is an Indian historian and politician who has taught and worked in the United States since the mid-1980s. His fields of study are South Asian and Indian Ocean history. Bose taught at Tufts University until 2001, when he accepted the Gardiner Chair of Oceanic History and Affairs at Harvard University.[1] Bose is also the Director of the Netaji Research Bureau in Kolkata, India, a research center and archives devoted to the life and work of Bose's great uncle, the Indian nationalist, Subhas Chandra Bose.[2] Bose is the author most recently of His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle against Empire (2011) and A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (2006).

Since 2014, Bose has served as a Member of India's Parliament from the Jadavpur Constituency in West Bengal.


  • Early life and family 1
  • Academic career 2
  • Books 3
  • Political career 4
  • Other activities 5
  • Bibliography 6
    • Books 6.1
    • Chapters in books 6.2
  • Notes 7
  • Cited Sources 8
  • External links 9

Early life and family

Sugata Bose was born in Calcutta, India. After studying at Presidency College, Kolkata, Bose subsequently completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge before being named a Fellow of St. Catharine's College at Cambridge.[3]

The great nephew of Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose[4] and grandson of nationalist Sarat Chandra Bose, Bose is the son of former Trinamool Congress parliamentarian Krishna Bose and paediatrician Sisir Kumar Bose. Bose's brother, Sumantra Bose, teaches at the London School of Economics; his sister, Sarmila Bose, is a researcher at Oxford University. Bose's partner, Ayesha Jalal, teaches history at Tufts University.[5]

Academic career

After completing his Ph.D. at Cambridge, Sugata Bose began his career as a professor of history and diplomacy at Tufts University.[6] In 2001 Bose was appointed to the Gardiner Chair of Oceanic History and Affairs, a position that had lain vacant for almost two decades, one which had been previously occupied by historians of the Western Hemisphere, but one for which Harvard specifically wanted a historian of South Asia.[1] From 2003 to 2010, Bose headed up the university's South Asia initiative as well as the graduate program in the history department.


In 2011 Bose published His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle against Empire, a biography of his great uncle Subhas Bose. The biography, a trade book,[7] has been criticised in scholarly reviews for soft-peddling or oversimplifying Subhas Chandra Bose's alliances with Italian Fascism, German National Socialism, and Japanese imperialism.[8][9] The book has also been criticised for its optimistic speculations on what Subhas Bose might have accomplished had he lived.[10] Some popular reviews have been more positive.[11][12][13][14]

In his earlier A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (2006), Bose attempts to challenge the thesis pioneered by

  • Bose, Sugata. "Personal website". 
  • Faculty page at Harvard University History Department

External links

  • Bertz, Ned (September 2007), "Review: A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire by Sugata Bose", Journal of World History 18 (3): 377–379,  
  • Campbell, Gwyn (October 2007), "Review of A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire by Sugata Bose", American Historical Review (Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Historical Association) 112 (4): 1140–1141,  
  • Framke, Maria (2012), "Encounters with Fascism and National Socialist in non-European Regions: Review of five books 1. Sugata Bose, His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle Against Empire, 2011; 2. ..." (PDF), Sudasien-Chronik – South Asia Chronicle (Sudasien-Seminar der Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin) 2: 350–374,  
  • Wainwright, A. Martin (Summer 2013), "Review of His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle against Empire, by Sugata Bose, 2011", Historian 75 (2): 361–362,  
  • Zachariah, Benjamin (2012), "Review of Sugata Bose. His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle Against Empire", American Historical Review 117 (2): 109–110,  

Cited Sources

  1. ^ a b Phillips, Lauren (1 April 2001). "Harvard hires Sugata Bose, Tufts' South Asian center founder".  
  2. ^ "India today needs legacy of Bose and Mahatma: Sugata Bose". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 26 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Profile: Sugata Bose". Penguin Books India. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "India today needs legacy of Bose and Mahatma: Sugata Bose". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 26 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Shaikh, Farida (27 August 2011). "The Bose connection . . .".  
  6. ^ Phillips 2001.
  7. ^ Zachariah 2012, p. 109: Quote: "Sugata Bose's biographical tribute to his great-uncle, the Indian nationalist politician Subhas Chandra Bose (1897–1945) is a gripping tale of a life of anti-colonial struggle and of a quiet, religiously oriented individual who spent much of his adult life in prison or in exile, tormented by his colonial overlords, becoming a politician, a warrior, and a legend and inspiration to some after his death. ... As a trade book, it also eschews some of the scholarly paraphernalia that enable a more critical engagement with its contents. Academic circles have long had in Leonard Gordon's Brothers against the Raj: A Biography of Indian Nationalists Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose (1990) a careful and detailed account of the lives of Subhas Bose and his elder brother Sarat. Sugata Bose's book is not likely to replace Gordon's account."
  8. ^ Framke 2012, p. 365: Quote: "While one can only highly recommend this book as a fine introduction to readers interested in the history of the national independence movement in the first half of the 20th century, in regard to Bose's encounters and interactions with National Socialism and Fascism, the monograph does not provide important new insights. ... Not only this episode, but also several others are interpreted by Sugata Bose in a rather unambiguous way that strongly rejects all possible affinities of Subhas Chandra Bose towards Fascism and National Socialism. In doing so, the author in my understanding, presents a relatively simplistic account of a much complex nature of engagement which Bose nurtured with international and national ideological contexts."
  9. ^ Zachariah 2012, pp. 109–110: Quote: "The fact that he (Subhas Bose) considered himself a socialist, often expressed his displeasure or disagreement with aspects of the Italian or German dictatorships or with Japanese imperialism, and had Jewish friends in Germany and Austria, or that he wrote in his autobiography of the need for a "synthesis" between socialism and fascism, is not a substitute for a more nuanced intellectual history that engages seriously with what these ideologies were."
  10. ^ Wainwright 2013, p. 361: Quote: "Less certain are some of the author’s speculations regarding how Bose’s presence in India after the Allied victory might have affected the partition and political culture of the subcontinent."
  11. ^ Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi (2011). "Review". Biblio. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  12. ^ Mukherjee, Rudrangshu (29 July 2011). "A Hero's Story". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  13. ^ Malik, Ashok (5 August 2011). "Son of the Nation". The Hindustan Times. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  14. ^ Motadel, David (24 February 2012). "India's Enemy's Enemy". The Times Literary Supplement. 
  15. ^ a b c d Campbell 2007, pp. 1040–1041.
  16. ^ Chatterjee, Kumkum (Winter 2008). "Review: A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire by Sugata Bose". Journal of Interdisciplinary History 38 (3): 499–500.  
  17. ^ Bertz, Ned (September 2007). "Review: A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire by Sugata Bose". Journal of World History 18 (3): 377–379.  
  18. ^ Campbell 2007, p. 1141a: Quote: "Thus Bose promises the reader an exposé of the continuity into the modern era of an ancient and sophisticated maritime system of long-distance exchange. ... If only that promise were upheld. Instead, we are treated to what increasingly, chapter by chapter, becomes a nationalist Indian version of Indian Ocean history. The key actors are all Indian and the only country in the region that counts is India."
  19. ^ Bertz 2007, p. 378: The method employed here is to sketch the histories of the "circular migrants" listed above, centring their encounters with the Indian Ocean as the backdrop. However, one can see the challenge in trying to hold these stories together within a single ambitious book. ... A surprisingly narrow aspect of the text is that its main actors are almost universally male and nearly all Indian.
  20. ^ Campbell 2007, p. 1141b: Quote:"Of far greater significance for Bose arc the British—and not for establishing the Pax Britannica in the region that permitted the expansion of the Indian trading network. Rather, Bose summons up a caricature of the unrelenting coloniser and oppressor against whose narrow racist and capitalist vision he pits the liberating universalism and profound antimaterialism of Indians."
  21. ^ Campbell, p. 1141c: Quote: "In sum, this is a curious book. A historical and literary dance through the history of rising Indian nationalist sentiment against British imperial rule, it appears aimed more for domestic Indian nationalist consumption than for scholars of the Indian Ocean world. In it, Bose grossly underestimates the complexities of the British imperial presence, and the many divisions along ethnic, caste, religious, economic, and political lines that existed among Indians, at home and overseas. More importantly, his concern with the Indian nationalist cause leads Bose increasingly to lose sight of his initial thesis and the wider enduring rhythms of trans-Indian Ocean world exchange."
  22. ^ "Election results: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's grandnephew Sugata Bose wins from Bengal's Jadavpur". Times of India. 
  23. ^ "Objectivity & obsession with subject must for biographers – The Times of India". The Times of India. 
  24. ^ "Penang Story Lectures: presented by Dr. Sugata Bose". Think City. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  25. ^ Dasgupta, Partha (16 July 2011). "Old boys to the rescue". India Today. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 


  • Bose, Sugata (2009), "Pondering poverty, fighting famines: towards a new history of economic ideas", in  

Chapters in books

  • Bose, Sugata (1986). Agrarian Bengal: economy, social structure, and politics, 1919-1947. Cambridge Cambridgeshire New York:  
  • Bose, Sugata (1990). South Asia and world capitalism. Delhi New York: Oxford University Press.  
  • Bose, Sugata (1993). Rural Bengal since 1770.  
  • Bose, Sugata (1994). Credit, markets, and the agrarian economy of colonial India. Delhi New York: Oxford University Press.  
  • Bose, Sugata;  
  • Bose, Sugata (2006). A hundred horizons: the Indian Ocean in the age of global empire. Cambridge, Massachusetts:  
  • Bose, Sugata;  
  • Bose, Sugata (2011). His majesty's opponent Subhas Chandra Bose and India's struggle against empire. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of  



Beyond his work at Harvard and Tufts, Bose has helped steer two major projects advancing higher education in India. Since 2007, Bose has been a member of the Government of India's Nalanda Mentor Group, which seeks to establish an international university on the site of the ancient University of Nalanda in Bihar. Since 2011, Bose has served as chairman of the Presidency College Mentor Group, which seeks to revitalise the 194-year-old Kolkata college.[25]

Bose has been active in researching, speaking, and publishing on Rabindranath Tagore, contributing to projects across different media. In 2007, Krishna and Sugata Bose co-edited Purabi: the East in its Feminine Gender, a book and CD of Tagore's poetry and music. Bose has produced a four-CD set of Tagore's songs written outside of India as Visva Yatri Rabindranath, and has lectured widely on Tagore in North America, Europe, and Asia.[24]

In January 2012, Bose joined New Yorker editor David Remnick, former New York Times editor Joseph Lelyveld and journalist Peter Popham at the sixth Jaipur Literature Festival in a panel on the challenges of biographical writing.[23]

Other activities

Sugata Bose is a Trinamool Congress MP at the 16th Lok Sabha, representing the Jadavpur constituency.[22]

Political career

Bose is also the author and editor of books on the economic, social and political history of modern South Asia. Beginning his career with work on the economy of agrarian Bengal, Bose published two volumes on his research. Agrarian Bengal: Economy, Social Structure and Politics, 1919–1947, published in 1986, contextualised rural economic life within the wider currents of the global economy, while a 1993 contribution to the New Cambridge History of India, Peasant Labour and Colonial Capital: Rural Bengal since 1770, analysed two and a half centuries of regional economic and social change.

[21] and for not providing sufficient warrant for the main thesis in the book.[20] for reducing the complex exchange between the British and India to a clash of Indian nationalism and British tyranny;[19][18] However, Bose's delineation of that economy has been criticised for not going much beyond India and Indians,[17] and for exploring "cosmopolitan notions of anticolonialism" throughout the Indian Ocean world.[16] was praised by academic reviewers for explicating the transformations to networks which linked Indian Ocean societies, beyond the influence of colonial empires,A Hundred Horizons [15].Subhas Chandra Bose, and Bose's great uncle Rabindranath Tagore, Mohandas K. Gandhi Attempting to bolster the latter notion are sections in the book on [15] This according to Bose, was not just the case in the market of goods and services, but also in the barter of ideas and culture.[15] Instead, Bose contends, in the main thesis of his book, an inter-regional economy of middle-level bazaar merchants and traders continued well into the late 1920s, existing between the dominant European capitalists at the top and the peasants and peddlers at the bottom.[15] and developed by Andre Wink and others, which holds that the world's first "global economy," the trans-Indian-ocean maritime economy—whose trade was assisted by the alternating winds and currents of the monsoons and which arose in the wake of the spread of Islam—was in turn undercut by European capitalism in the early 18th century. 

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