Sunil Amrith


School of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck College
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX


Sunil Amrith is Reader in Modern Asian History at Birkbeck College, University of London. Amrith’s research is on the history of the Bay of Bengal region since the late eighteenth century, currently focusing on the history of migration and cultural circulation between south India and Southeast Asia. He is interested in Tamil migrants’ movement across the Bay of Bengal, and particularly in how Tamils’ engagement with others - Chinese, Malay, Burmese, Europeans and other South Asian - shaped their political ideas and cultural practices.

He is currently working on a book more specifically focused on the Bay of Bengal region, which will bring together the history of migration with environmental history: Crossing the Bay of Bengal will be published by Harvard University Press in 2013/14. Sunil Amrith’s earlier work was on the history of public health in South and Southeast Asia. His book, Decolonizing International Health: India and Southeast Asia, 1930-65 (Palgrave, 2006) examined the international exchange of ideas about health in Asia in the mid-twentieth century. Amrith serves as one of the editors of History Workshop Journal. In 2009-10 he was a visiting scholar at the Harvard Center for History and Economics, where he will return in the same capacity in 2011-12.

Dr Amrith has been awarded a European Research Council grant for "the very best creative researchers of any nationality and age." His new project, Coastal Frontiers: Water, Power, and the Boundaries of South Asia, will be undertaken from 2012 to 2017.



Migration and Diaspora in Modern Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2011)

'Indians Overseas? Governing Tamil Migration to Malaya, 1870-1941', Past and Present, number 208 (August 2010), pp. 231-61

'Tamil Diasporas across the Bay of Bengal', American Historical Review, 114, 3 (June 2009), pp. 547-72

'Food and Welfare in India, c. 1900-1950', Comparative Studies in Society and History, 50, 4 (2008), pp. 1010-1035

Sunil Amrith, with Glenda Sluga, 'New Histories of the UN', Journal of World History, 19.3 (2008) [equal co-authorship: 50% contribution]

Decolonizing International Health: India and Southeast Asia, 1930-65 (Palgrave, 2006)

‘Asian Internationalism: Bandung's Echo in a Colonial Metropolis', Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 6, 4, December 2005, pp. 557-69

‘In Search Of a Magic Bullet For Tuberculosis: South India and Beyond, c.1955-1965', Social History of Medicine, 17, 1 (2004), pp. 113-130

‘Development and Disease: The United Nations and Public Health, c. 1945-55’, in M. Daunton and F. Trentmann, Worlds of Political Economy: Knowledge and power in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (London: Palgrave, 2004)