Prof. dr. N.K. (Nira) Wickramasinghe

Position:
  • Professor
Expertise:
  • Modern South Asian Studies


Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2982
E-Mail: n.k.wickramasinghe@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden Institute for Area Studies, SAS India en Tibet
Office Address: Witte Singel-complex
Matthias de Vrieshof 3
2311 BZ Leiden
Room number 0.06a


Fields of interest

My primary interests are identity politics, everyday life under colonialism and the relationship between state and society in modern South Asia. I have pursued these interests through investigation into such diverse themes as politics of dress, civil society, citizens and migrants, and objects of consumption. Trained as a historian, I have written on late colonial and modern Sri Lanka, using a variety of archives. In the last few years, my work has moved from a focus on national history albeit from a non-state perspective to an approach that contests the nation as a frame and attempts to capture other dimensions of belonging which might be best encapsulated in the term ‘‘postnational’’. I have completed a book on ordinary peoples’ encounter with the ‘‘modern’’ using as a lens machines such as the sewing machine, gramophone, tram and bicycle. In addition to my research and teaching I intervene regularly in public debates and contribute essays and op.eds to Opendemocracy and the Wall Street Journal.

CV

Education
- D.Phil in Modern History, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford (1989)
- Diplome d’Etudes Approfondies, History, Universite de Paris IV-Sorbonne (1986)
- Maitrise in History, Universite de Paris-IV-Sorbonne (1985)
- Licence in History, Universite de Paris-IV-Sorbonne (1984)
- Khagne, Lycee Fenelon, Paris 6 (1982-83)
- Hypokhagne, Lycee Victor Duruy, Paris 7 (1981-82)

Employment
- Full Professor of Modern South Asian Studies, Leiden University (since 2010)
- Full Professor, Department of History and International Relations, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka (2003-2009)
- Senior Lecturer, Department of History and International Relations, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka (1990-2002)

Key publications

Authored monographs

2014, Sri Lanka in the Modern Age. A History, (2nd revised edn) London: C.Hurst and New York: Oxford University Press

2014: Metallic modern. Everyday machines in colonial Sri Lanka, New York, Oxford: Berghahn Press

2006, Sri Lanka in the Modern Age. A history of contested identities, London: C. Hurst and Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

2006, L’Invention du Vetement National au Sri Lanka, Paris: Karthala Presse.

2003, Dressing the Colonised Body: Politics, Clothing and Identity in Colonial Sri Lanka, New Delhi: Orient Longman Publ., pp. 157.

2001, Civil Society in Sri Lanka. New Circles of Power, New Delhi, London, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publ, pp. 186.

1995, Ethnic Politics in Colonial Sri Lanka 1927-1947, New Delhi: Vikas Publ, pp. 289.

Edited volumes
1994, edited with Radhika Coomaraswamy, Introduction to Social Theory, New Delhi: Konark Publ. 1994, pp. 147.

1992, edited with Regi Siriwardena, South Asia Bulletin (Special Issue on Society and Culture in Sri Lanka) Vol. XII, No. 1, 1992.

Textbooks
2001, History Writing: New Trends and Methodologies, Colombo, pp. 98


Audio
A History of the World in 100 Objects: Statue of Tara

Teaching

A range of courses in South Asian history and politics, including
- Histories of Modern South and Southeast Asia
- State, Politics and Economy in Modern South and Southeast Asia
- Nation, Community, Self : Questions of culture in South and Southeast Asia
- Contemporary South Asia
- Conflicts and Collective Violence in South Asia
- Reading Indian Nationalism
- History Theory Nation. Readings from the South

PhD supervision

  • Sarthak Bagchi, Clientelism and Patronage in Indian Elections: A Comparative Study of the States of Bihar and Maharashtra, degree expected in 2016 (with Ward Berenschot (KITLV)

  • Aditi Mukherjee, Dandakaranya: A Study of Rehabilitation and Development, from 1958 to the Present, degree expected in 2016  (with Sanjukta Sunderason)

  • Devshree Thanekar, Impacts of globalization on Mumbai’s fishing villages, degree expected in 2016

  • Dileepa Witharana, Negotiating Power and ‘construction’ the nation: the engineering profession in Sri Lanka, degree expected in 2017

  • Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, The Adaptable Peasant: Agrarian Society in Western Sri Lanka under Dutch Rule, 1740 1800  awarded in 2004 (with L. Wagenaar and L.Blusse)

  • Udan Fernando, Uneasy Encounters. Relationships between Dutch Donors and Sri Lankan NGOs,  awarded in 2005 at University of Amsterdam (with Isa Baud at Uva)

  • Nadeera Seneviratne, Negotiating Custom: The Landraad in Eighteenth Century Sri Lanka, degree expected in 2013 (with Alicia Schrikker)

  • Esther M. McIntosh, State & society perceptions of minority participation in post-war local government institutions/pradeshiya sabhas, degree expected in 2013  (with David Henley)

  • Priya Swamy, A Disobedient Diaspora: Living Hinduism in Osdorp, Amsterdam, degree expected in 2014 (with Chris Goto Jones as first supervisor)

  • Idrees Khanth, Nationalism and Public Discourse in twentieth century Kashmir, degree expected in 2015 (with Erik de Maaker)

  • Alok Oak, Colonialism, Desivad and Hindu Nationalism: The Political Philosophy of Bal Gangadhar Tilak ­(with Prof Pralay Kanungo as co-supervisor)

  • Golam Rabbani, Commodifying Baul Songs: Consumerism and Devaluing Baul Philosophy in Bangladesh ­(with Dr Sanjukta Sunderason as co-promotor)

Grants and awards

- Research Fellowship at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton  University, Sept 2008- to July 2009. 
- Visiting Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Bielefeld, Germany, June 2006.
- British Academy Visiting Professorship, University of Oxford, June 2005.
- University of Colombo, Faculty of Arts Research Award 2004.
- Fulbright-Hays Senior Scholarship 2003-2004 at the International Center for Advanced Studies, New York University
- 2001-2002: the South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development (SEPHIS) post-doctoral fellowship  for the translation my book ‘Dressing the Colonised Body’ into French.
- Visiting professorship at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris France, April-May 1998:
- World Bank Robert McNamara Fellowship 1998: on NGOs and Development.
- SEPHIS post-doctoral 1996-1997  for post doctoral research on ‘Dress and Colonialism’.
- ACUNS Fellowship, July 1994: at Brown University, Providence, USA.
- Kodikara Award from the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies 1996:
- Full Fellowship on the US Foreign Policy Process, at the School of Public Affairs,  University of Maryland, Jan-June 1993.
- Fellowship ‘Jeunes Chercheurs’ of the Centre de l’ Inde et de L’Asie du Sud, EHESS, 1990.
- Overseas Research Scholarship (ORS) at University of  Oxford 1986-1987.

Administration and service to the profession

- Head School of Asian Studies, Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), 2011-2013
- Directed (with Prof Michael Herzfeld) the IIAS summer programme on Asian Studies, May 2011 –  Heritage conserved and contested: Asian and European perspectives
- Member of the LIAS Advisory council
- One of five coordinators of the Leiden University Profile Area, Asian Modernities and Tradition
- Member of the Board of Directors of the International Institute for Asian Studies IIAS, Leiden 
- Member of the International Research Committee, Regional Center for Strategic Studies, Colombo, 2007-2010
- Towards a New Age Partnership (TANAP)  University of Leiden, External Supervisor in Sri Lanka 2003-2007
- Member of the Selection Board of the ASIA fellowship (UPIASI and Ford Foundation) for 2006-2009
- Member of the Selection committee for the SSRC (Social Science Research Council) South Asia fellowships 2005-2006
- Member of the selection committee for Commonwealth fellowship awards, Sri Lanka, 2004
- Senior Researcher on an  ICES/NORAD project on Education and Values 2002-2003
- Social Science Research Council (SSRC) New York consultant on a Survey of the Social Sciences in South Asia ed. By Partha Chatterjee
- Consultant Ministry of Education on Curriculum revision for schools (Chairperson of History syllabus committee) 2005
- UNDP consultant on Common Country Assessment 2000
- National Integration Program Unit (NIPU) consultant on Textbook Project 2000
- World Bank consultancy on Socio-Cultural Biases in History Textbooks in Sri Lanka 1999

Last Modified: 11-12-2015