Location: Bowdoin / Rachel Sturman


Rachel L. Sturman

Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies

Contact Information


Hubbard Hall - 19

Teaching this semester

HIST 1039 / ASNS 1036. Commodity Life: Objects and Histories of India

Rachel Sturman
What kinds of meanings and histories are held within objects? Uses the lens of four objects in the Indian subcontinent—rice, textiles, yoga, and photography—to trace histories of knowledge and skill, of commodification and global circulation, of power relations, and of personal attachments that these objects have generated. Central is thinking through the creative but also power-laden processes of making, using, and interpreting. This approach to the creative potential of analysis infuses class writing, revision, and discussion.

HIST 2342 / ASNS 2581. The Making of Modern India and Pakistan

Rachel Sturman
Traces the history of India and Pakistanfrom the rise of British imperial power in the mid-eighteenth century to the present. Topics include the formation of a colonial economy and society; religious and social reform; the emergence of anti-colonial nationalism; the road to independence and partition; and issues of secularism, democracy, and inequality that have shaped post-colonial Indian and Pakistani society. This course is part of the following field(s) of study: South Asia and Colonial Worlds.

Rachel L. Sturman: Bowdoin College: History, Asian Studies


  • Ph.D., University of California, Davis, September 2001
  • M.A., University of California, Davis, 1993
  • A.B., University of Chicago, 1991


The Government of Social Life in Colonial India: Liberalism, Religious Law and Women’s Rights, Cambridge University Press. Forthcoming April 2012.

Journal Forum

“Gender and the Human,” Gender & History 23, 2 (August 2011).


Invited contribution: “Marriage & Family in Colonial Hindu Law.” In Hinduism and Law: An Introduction. Cambridge Companion Series. Edited by Timothy Lubin, Donald R. Davis, Jr., & Jayanth K. Krishnan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010: 89-104.

“Marriage and the Morality of Exchange: Defining the Terrain of Law in Late Nineteenth Century Western India.” In Decentering Empire: Britain, India, and the Transcolonial World. Edited by Durba Ghosh and Dane Kennedy. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 2006: 51–75.

“Property and Attachments: Defining Autonomy and the Claims of Family in Nineteenth-Century Western India.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 47, 3 (July 2005): 611–637.

Book Reviews

Review of Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal, by Rochona Majumdar, Asian Studies Review, 35, 1 (March 2011).

Review of Bengal in Global Concept History: Culturalism in the Age of Capital, by Andrew Sartori, American Anthropologist, 112, 3 (September 2010): 491-2.

Review of Sex and the Family in Colonial India: The Making of Empire, by Durba Ghosh, Journal of Asian Studies, 68, 2 (May 2009): 650-1.

Work in Progress

“Indian Indentured Labor and the History of Citizenship and Human Rights.” [Article under revision for The American Historical Review.]

Genealogies of the Human: Indian Labor, Migration and the Idea of Emancipation
[Monograph manuscript under preparation.]