Michael S. Dodson

Associate Professor, Department of History

Director, Dhar India Studies Program

Director, History Honors Program

Adjunct Associate Professor, India Studies Program

Adjunct Associate Professor, Cultural Studies Program

Academic Director, IU India Gateway Office

Department of History

IU, IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a historian of British imperialism in South Asia, focusing particularly upon the intellectual and cultural history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. My first book, Orientalism, Empire, and National Culture: India 1770-1880, is a reinterpretation of Orientalism which conceptualizes colonial scholarly practices in northern India as highly localized, with links not only to the East India Company's governing authority, but also to the social consolidation of scholarly 'middle men', the Sanskrit pandits.  My second research monograph is a study of the aesthetics of smaller north Indian cities, such as Jaunpur and Kanpur, which examines colonial architectural conservation and urban planning practices, as well as local engagements with the urban landscape.  I am also currently editing a collection of nineteenth-century photographs and historical essays on the city of Varanasi; co-editing a book of essays on Asian modernity; and writing A History of South Asia: Culture, Politics, Society, and Architecture 1000-2000 for Oxford University Press.  I have worked extensively in the archives and libraries of India, and spend much of my free time conducting research in the north Indian city of Varanasi.

Honors and Awards

  • Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award, 2008
  • New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities (IU), New Perspectives Conference Grant 2007
  • College Arts and Humanities Institute (IU), Faculty Fellowship 2006

Research Interests

  • South Asian intellectual and cultural history
  • British imperial history
  • Postcolonial theory


  • Ph.D. at University of Cambridge, 2003

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to South Asian History and Civilization
  • Modern South Asia
  • Islam and Empire in South Asia
  • Britain and its Empire
  • World Cities
  • The British Empire in Asia and Africa
  • Introduction to the Professional Study of History
  • Postcolonial Theory and Historiography
  • The Cultural History of British Imperialism in South Asia




  • "Thomas Maurice and Domestic Orientalism, ca 1790-1820" in C. Talbot, ed., Changing Conceptions of South Asia's past: A Tribute to Thomas R. Trautmann, (New Delhi: Yoda Press, forthcoming 2010).
  • "Orientalism and Archaeology: Writing the History of South Asia, 1600-1860" in S. Guha, ed., Sir John Marshall: Archaeology, Photography, and the Creation of a Past, (Ahmedabad: Mapin, 2010).
  • "Contesting Translations: Orientalism and the Interpretation of the Vedas" in Modern Intellectual History, 2007 (part of a special issue on intellectual histories of India).
  • "Translating Science, Translating Empire: The Power of Language in Colonial North India" in Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2005.
  • "Re-Presented for the Pandits: James Ballantyne, 'Useful Knowledge,' and Sanskrit Scholarship in Benares College During the Mid-Nineteenth Century" in Modern Asian Studies, 2002