Somak Biswas

Dr Somak Biswas is a historian of race, sexuality and migration, focusing on South Asia and Britain. He completed his PhD from the University of Warwick, UK. Prior to his doctorate, Somak did his Masters and M.Phil at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Global History and Culture Centre, University of Warwick. Somak's first monograph, based on his doctoral research at Warwick is entitled 'Passages through India: Indian Gurus, Western Disciples and the Politics of Indophilia, 1890-1940', and is currently under contract with the Cambridge University Press. The book reconstructs a transnational history of white Indophilia – romanticised engagements around idealised forms of India – through a close study of the western networks of three major Indian figures: Gandhi, Vivekananda and Tagore. It examines how Indophile affective intimacy was cultivated with their Indian gurus through spaces like letters and ashrams; then deployed assiduously in more global arenas to represent Indian nationalist causes. Drawing on a range of new and old archives from India, Fiji, South Africa, USA and Britain, it charts the transnational deployment of white Indophiles in discourses on global Hinduism and anti-indenture campaigns. Indian nationalist instrumentalization of Indophile networks, it argues, frequently reproduced the very hierarchies of race, class and caste that they were supposedly seeking to transgress. Somak is also developing his next project on the intersection of sexuality and migration in the making of British border regimes, focusing on Asian and African migrations to postwar Britain. He is also co-lead on the project Global Coventry, along with Prof Anne Gerritsen and the Global History and Culture Centre.

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