Dr Jagjeet Lally

Jagjeet Lally is a Lecturer in the History of Early Modern and Modern India, with wider interests in western Asia and the Middle East since c. 1500. He joined UCL in 2014, having previously been the Moses and Mary Finley Research Fellow at Darwin College, Cambridge, and having previously taught at the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London. He is the co-director of the Centre for the Study of South Asia and the Indian Ocean World, which is based in UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies.

Jagjeet’s first book, India and the Silk Roads. The History of a Trading World, will be published in mid-2020. At its largest, this book is a global history of the Eurasian continental interior – a space that has been relatively neglected in much scholarly production, even in light of the ‘global turn’ in history and the ‘return’ of terrestrial forms of connectivity in our own times represented by China’s Belt and Road Initiative. At its heart is an examination of north India’s caravan trade with Afghanistan and central Asia from the eighteenth century, when it still served to integrate this space, until the reconfiguration and decline of these commercial circuits around the early twentieth century. In fact, so integral was caravan trade, that it serves as a valuable lens to imagine the larger history and transformation of this continental interior, brought to light in this book through a sequence of thematic chapters on the environment, exchange networks, merchants, power and violence, material culture, colonialism, knowledge production, and technology.

Jagjeet’s next book, India in the Early Modern World, is under contract with Routledge. His other major writing project is a history of the Himalaya, toward which he has recently written a number of articles, including one on salt smuggling from British Burma into (Qing/Republican) China, and another on the brief fascination of Irish-American Republicans with the potentiality of Muslims on the Indian frontier in the precipitation of an imperial crisis from which Ireland might find its liberation. Other strands of his research range from Indo-Islamicate equestrian visual culture and the history of the non-human in empire, to the moral economy of colour in pre-colonial north India and a survey of fashion in precolonial South Asia, as well as work at the nexus of the history of science and economic history, the latter focussing on sericulture in early colonial Punjab and the Salvation Army’s experiments with silk production in early twentieth-century India. He is also interested in the work of museums and public institutions in narrating South Asian history through their collections, having organised a conference on this theme in 2018 at the British Musem, and subsequently continued working with academics and practitioners within the UK and abroad to critically discuss issues around heritage, empire, and decolonisation.

Jagjeet welcomes interest from research students across the geographic, chronological, and disciplinary fields indicated by these projects.

Major publications

For a list of Jagjeet's publications please consult his Iris profile.

Current PhD Students

Patcharaviral Charoenpacharaporn, 'A perspective from the south: a comparative Cold War history of India and Thailand'