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David Gilmartin


Department of History

Withers Hall 476

View CV 


David Gilmartin studies modern South Asian history.  He received his BA from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in History from the University of California–Berkeley.  He has conducted research in India and Pakistan.

Teaching and Research Interests

David Gilmartin’s research interest focus on the intersections between the history of British imperialism in South Asia and the development of modern politics and forms of rule.   His most recent book, Blood and Water:  The Indus River Basin in Modern History (2015) examines the intersection between environmental and political history over the last 200 years.  Current research focuses on the legal history of India’s electoral institutions as they have evolved from its colonial past, and on the ways these institutions have reflected evolving visions of sovereignty.


Current projects include the historical study of the legal, institutional and intellectual structures that underlie Indian democracy, and continuing work on issues relating to India’s partition of 1947 and the creation of Pakistan.


Recent Publications include:

South Asian Sovereignty:  The Conundrum of Worldly Power, co-edited with Pamela Price and Arild Ruud (New Delhi:  Routledge, 2020)

Blood and Water: The Indus River Basin in Modern History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015)

Civilization and Modernity: Narrating the Creation of Pakistan (New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2014). [Collection of revised, previously published articles with a new Introduction]

“Voting, Religion, and the People’s Sovereignty in Late Colonial India.”  In Martin Fuchs and Vasudha Dalmia, eds., Religious Interactions in Modern India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2019) pp. 306-335.

“Rethinking the Public through the Lens of Sovereignty,” South Asia, 38, 3 (2015) pp. 371-86.

“The Historiography of India’s Partition:  Between Civilization and Modernity,” Journal of Asian Studies, 74, 1 (February 2015) pp. 23-41.

“The Paradox of Patronage and the People’s Sovereignty.”  In Anastasia Piliavsky, ed., Patronage as Politics in South Asia (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2014) pp. 125-153.

“Towards a Global History of Voting:  Sovereignty, the Diffusion of Ideas, and the Enchanted Individual,” Religions, 3, 2 (May 2012) pp. 407-423.


David Gilmartin teaches survey courses in Asian and World history, and upper-level history courses on Modern South Asia, the history of European Imperialism, and modern world history.


Ph.D. South Asian History University of California-Berkeley 1979

M.A. South Asian History University of California-Berkeley 1972

B.A. History University of Michigan 1971