Harjot Oberoi developed a life-long fascination with social history at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. On completing his BA (Honours) in history at Delhi University he moved in 1976 to the Centre of Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. He received two degrees from this institution: a Masters and an M.Phil, both in the area of Modern South Asian history. For his doctoral work he headed to Australia and studied at the Centre for Asian Studies, at the Australian National University. His dissertation at ANU won him the J.G. Crawford Prize (1987), a distinction reserved for the best doctoral thesis for the year.
Oberoi’s early research focused on popular nationalism and the nature of religious discourse under the sign of modernity/colonialism. His interest in questions of modernity led him to a multi-year collaborative and interdisciplinary project exploring the reassertion of religion in contemporary public life and how this revival has led to transformations in legal structures, state polity, and new definitions of community. This project was conducted under the auspices of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and based at the University of Chicago. On completion the Project produced five volumes of research, all five published by the University of Chicago Press. More recently, Oberoi has become interested in the issue of how classical empires shaped the British Raj in India. He is also interested in questions of critical theory, the formation of private libraries, law and society, transnational cultures, and complex systems.
Professor Oberoi’s research has received support from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Killam Trust.
Courses Taught, starting 2009:
1. Religion, Society And State in Modern India.
2. South Asians Beyond South Asia
3. Inventing Asian Religions in the West/East Encounter
4. Empires: Past, Present, Future (graduate course)
5. Critical Issues in Asian Studies (graduate course)
(i) “ Translating History into Theory,” in Aakash Singh and Silika Mohapatra ed., Indian Political Theory, Routledge, 2009. Book Foreword by Noble Laureate Amaratya Sen.
(ii) “ Unpacking Lord Macaulay’s Library,” in Biblio, vol. 13, 2008.
(iii) The Construction of Religious Boundaries, simultaneously by Oxford University Press and Chicago University Press.
1. J.G. Crawford Prize
2. Best First Book, American Academy of Religions
3. Killam Research Prize
4. Killam Research Fellowship