Academic Programmes

5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.)



  • BA History ( Hons) 2007, St Stephens College, Delhi University
  • MA History (Hons) 2009, Delhi University
  • MPHIL in History 2013, Delhi University
  • PhD, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, George August- Göttingen University,  Germany (Ongoing)


Vidhya Raveendranathan is a historian of modern South Asia and her work is at the intersection of urban, legal and labour history with a special focus on the impact of infrastructure building, property making, policing, legal regulations and sanitary engineering in reworking a broad range of occupations formerly subject to particularistic obligations and social ties into abstract labour. Instead of viewing the process of labour commoditization through the rhythms of industrial production, her study locates it within the context of the problems stemming from urban expansion when existing property relations, norms governing spatial rights, caste and communitarian networks were reworked to produce categories of labour such as the boatmen, domestic servant and scavenger. Her dissertation has been funded by several institutions such as the German Research Foundation, German Historical Institute, London, European Research Council as as well as the Henry Luce Foundation. She was also a former doctoral fellow at the Centre for Global Asia, New York University, Shanghai.

Presently she is a research collaborator on the Centre’s digital archives and oral histories documentation project which looks at the impact of post Tsunami rehabilitation projects on coastal communities in South India. She has also taught courses on labour history and work regimes in colonial and post colonial colonial India for undergraduate and post graduate students specializing in Modern Indian History at the University of Göttingen. She was also a research associate on projects relating to governance and decentralization at the Centre for Developing Societies, Delhi.

Research Interests

  • Social, Cultural and Political History of Ancient, Medieval and Modern India
  • Maritime Histories of Asia and the British Empire
  • Asian Port Cities and their Hinterlands
  • Oceanic Histories, Coasts and the Littoral Spaces
  • Global Labour History
  • Histories of Race, Caste and Gender
  • Law, Colonialism and Subaltern histories


  • Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture in Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2014 (Review)
  • Scavenger and the Raj in Rana Behal and Sabyasachi Bhattacharya edited The Vernacularization of Labour Politics, Columbia University Press, 2016
  • Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Issue 3, 2018 ( Review)
  • Raveendranathan. Vidhya and Ramesh. Aditya, Infrastructure and Public Works in Colonial India: Towards a Conceptual History’, History Compass, Volume 18, Issue 6, 2020
  • Guest editor of the special feature on Port Cities in the Indian Ocean World, Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies, Vol.5 No 1, 2021
  • A Hygienic City- Nation: Space, community and Everyday life in Colonial Calcutta, Cambridge University Press, Urban History, Volume 49, Issue 3, August 2022 ( Review)
  • Raveendranathan.Vidhya and Roszko Edyta edited International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS) newsletter on Rethinking Development and Asian Coastal Environments, June 2022 which examines issues of port led industrialization and its impact on fishing communities in the global context.
  • Beyond Governmentality, Sanitation and Colonial Planning- Rethinking Urban histories of South Asia, forthcoming, Journal of Urban History, Sage, 2022

Ongoing work

  • Presumed guilty by law? Crime, regulation and the making of the domestic servant in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Madras
  • Writing histories of infrastructure, space and labour in colonial South Asia : An account of pier building and hydraulic engineering in late eighteenth and nineteenth century Madras, commissioned for a volume, titled New Directions in South Asian History, Cambridge University Press
  • Infrastructure, state formation and the colonial state in Eighteenth and Nineteenth century Madras, commissioned for a special issue on Infrastructure studies in the journal Eighteenth Century Studies, John Hopkins University