Rochisha Narayan

Rochisha Narayan, Ph.D.

Rochisha Narayan is a historian of Early Modern and Modern South Asia. She is interested in exploring histories of family, community, social protests, colonialism and capital through the lenses of gender, sexuality and law. She is completing her book manuscript, tentatively titled, ‘Agents of Capital: Widows, Family, Community and Law in Early Colonial India’. It examines relationships of property during the 18th and early 19th century to show that transfers of capital were political concerns involving household, community and state. The book traces the ways in which early colonial law gained shape, and was established as an authority in 18th-century society, by mediating matters of inheritance. It explores how the colonial economy defined property relationships in this period and British interventions through law tethered household and community transactions in its service.  One of the core arguments of the book is to show how these 18th-century practices of vernacular capitalism were gendered. The book focuses on the pursuits of female political and commercial actors in the transition to colonial rule. Challenging narratives which cast widows as fragile and marginal victims of culture, this project draws attention to elite and non-elite widows as agentive and entrepreneurial figures who strove to maintain a stake in colonial economy by sourcing capital and support in community spaces, and colonial offices.

In addition to this research, Dr. Narayan has begun preliminary research on a second project which is tentatively titled, “The Politics of Belonging: Family Histories in Vernacular Genealogies and the Colonial Archive in India”. This research will examine the production of genealogy and family history as contingent practices of status formation, negotiation and control in northern India from the 18th to the 20th century.


  • Ph.D. in History from Rutgers University, New Brunswick

Research Interests

Early Modern and Modern India, Gender, Family, Sexuality, Law, Capital, Social history of Protests, Feminism, Vernacular Literary histories, Colonialism and Empire

Recent Research Activities

‘Widows, Family, Community and the Formation of Anglo-Hindu Law in Eighteenth-century India’ in Modern Asian Studies, Volume 50 (3), 2016.

“A Mughal Matriarch and the Politics of Motherhood in Early Colonial India” Forthcoming in Journal of Women's History, Summer 2020


No courses found for Fall 2022.

No courses found for Summer 2022.

Course Number Course Title Mode Date and Time Syllabus
19428 ASH3930 Special Topics Video Tu,Th 01:30 PM - 02:45 PM Unavailable
No Description Available
11027 ASH4550 History of Modern India Video Tu,Th 09:00 AM - 10:15 AM Unavailable
No Description Available

Updated: Feb 4, 2020