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Dr Sandip Hazareesingh

Sandip Hazareesingh photo

Profile summary

Professional biography

Born in Mauritius, I have a PhD in History from Warwick and MA and BA degrees from SOAS and Kent respectively. I have taught at Birkbeck and Cardiff and previously worked for Save The Children Fund for a decade. This campaigning background has influenced my research interests which are focused on India and on the southern world, and I remain committed to radical perspectives in history writing. I came to the Open University in 2003 as staff tutor in Bristol and lecturer at the newly established Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, joining the History Department in 2008. I am also currently a member of the International Development and Inclusive Innovation Research Group and the OpenSpace Research Centre in FASS. I was Director of the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies from 2016 to 2020.

Research interests

My research is primarily focused on India/South Asia and combines social history with historical geography, and I am particularly interested in the themes of food, environment, climate, and development. I would welcome enquiries from prospective research students in any of these areas. 

I have completed four major externally funded projects. I was Principal Investigator on an AHRC-funded Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project, Changing Farming Lives in South India, Past and Present (2018-20) which involved a collaboration between UK researchers and  the NGO Green Foundation based in Karnataka, India. Using oral history, the project documented women small farmers’ importance in the maintenance of cultural heritage and traditional knowledge crucial to food security and agricultural resilience. An article about the research titled ‘Our grandmother used to sing whilst weeding: oral histories, millet food culture, and farming rituals amongst women smallholders in Ramanagara district, Karnataka’ has been published in Modern Asian Studies (2020). A follow-up GCRF project on the revival of millets in southern India was recommended for funding, but following the UK government’s much criticised cuts to official development assistance and their impact on GCRF, the AHRC cancelled the award in March 2021. 

I was Principal Investigator on an AHRC-funded digital history project, Commodity Histories (2012-18), which was the first digital resource in the UK to focus on the histories of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. The website provided a public forum for researchers working globally on the history of commodities to write about new research, works-in-progress, as well as news and events from their part of the world.

I was also Co-Director (2007-16) of a British Academy interdisciplinary research project, Commodities of Empire, with Professor Jean Stubbs of UCL. The project held an annual workshop showcasing new research projects and initiatives on this theme and bringing fresh perspectives and insights from the world beyond Europe.

Finally, I was Co-I on a collaborative research project, Commodities and Anti-Commodities (2009-13) funded by the NWO and involving colleagues from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. The project revealed hitherto hidden instances of sustainable modes of indigenous farming in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean during the colonial era, and it led to the publication of a book titled Local Subversions of Colonial Cultures: Commodities and Anti-Commodities in Global History (2016) which I co-edited with Dr Harro Maat of Wageningen University.


A full list of my publications can be found by clicking on the 'Publications' tab above.

Impact and engagement

I have acted as consultant for the BBC documentary series Dangerous Borders: A Journey Across India and Pakistan, broadcast on BBC2 in August 2017. I have also been interviewed for BBC Radio 4’s Printing A Nation series, broadcast in April 2017. Both programmes were highlights of a season marking the 70th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan.

External collaborations

Recent collaboration with NGO Green Foundation based in Karnataka, India, on the research project Changing Farming Lives in South India, Past and Present.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Empire and Postcolonial Studies Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts
OpenSpace Research CentreCentreFaculty of Social Sciences
The Ferguson Centre for African and Asian StudiesCentreFaculty of Arts


The colonial city and the challenge of modernity: Urban hegemonies and civic contestations in Bombay (1900-1925) (2007-10)
Hazareesingh, Sandip
New Perspectives in South Asian History
ISBN : 8125031642 | Publisher : Orient Longman | Published : Andhra Pradesh, India

The colonial city and the challenge of modernity: urban hegemonies and civic contestations in Bombay city (1900-1925) (2007)
Hazareesingh, Sandip
ISBN : 81 250 3164 2 | Publisher : Orient Longman

'Your Foreign Plants are Very Delicate': Peasant Crop Ecologies and the Subversion of Colonial Cotton Designs in Dharwar, western India, 1830-1880. (2016)
Hazareesingh, Sandip
In: Hazareesingh, Sandip and Maat, Harro eds. Local Subversions of Colonial Cultures: Commodities and Anti-Commodities in Global History. Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies
ISBN : 9781137381095 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : London, UK

Local Subversions of Colonial Cultures. Commodities and Anti-Commodities in Global History (2016)
Maat, Haaro and Hazareesingh, Sandip eds.
ISBN : 978-1-137-38110-1 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan

'I remember when it used to rain well and we could trust the weather'. Women's stories of changing farming lives in southern India. (2020-05-14)
Hazareesingh, Sandip
Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

The creation of a conflictual border: India-Pakistan (2017-08-07)
Hazareesingh, Sandip
Open University, Milton Keynes.

Peace movements in contemporary India and Pakistan (2017-08-07)
Hazareesingh, Sandip and Patent, Volker
Open University, Milton Keynes.

The everyday lives of ancient Colombians (2014)
Hazareesingh, Sandip
Open University, Milton Keynes.

Plants, power and productivity: the East India Company and cotton imperialism in early nineteenth-century India (2011-12-06)
Hazareesingh, Sandip
Backdoor Broadcasting Company, London, UK.

Chasing commodities over the surface of the globe: shipping, port development and the making of networks between Glasgow and Bombay, c.1850-1880 (2007-10-23)
Hazareesingh, Sandip
The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.