Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of North Texas
Website URL
South and Southeast Asia, Indian Ocean Studies, British History, Migration History, Gender and Women’s History
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Personal Info

About Me

I am a historian of Global South and Southeast Asia, Britain, and the British Empire. My main area of research interest focuses on the transnational mobility of South and Southeast Asians in the colonial period (nineteenth and twentieth century) across different parts of the British Empire. Much of my research has simultaneously also focused on themes of labor history, transnational Indian nationalism, women’s and gender history.

My first monograph, Fleeting Agencies in a Rubber Empire: Indian Coolie Women in British Malaya (Cambridge University Press, 2021) disrupts the male-dominated narratives by focusing on gendered patterns of migration and showing how South Asian women labor migrants engaged with the process of migration, interacted with other migrants and negotiated British colonial laws. Fleeting Agencies has been awarded the NWSA Whaley Book Award; the WAWH Chaudhuri Prize; the NACBS Stansky Award. My recent book, Waiting on Empire: History of Indian Travelling Ayahs in Britain, focuses on a largely forgotten group in the story of movement and migration: South Asian travelling ayahs (servants and nannies), who travelled between India and Britain and often found themselves destitute in Britain as they struggled to find their way home to South Asia.

I have published a number of articles and chapters concerning South and Southeast Asian labor, migration, and women’s histories. I have also published a number of articles on British history, the most recent ones focused on – traveling ayahs (nannies) in Britain, the history of Knocker ups in industrial Britain, transnational horse groomers and the transnational history of British planters’ wives.

My current research project is centered around the migration and mobility of Indian Traveling Ayahs (traveling nannies) across the British Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

I also serve as the Associate Editor for the journal Gender & History and Britain and the World Journal, and as the Associate Review Editor of American Historical Review

Recent Publications


Waiting on Empire: History of Indian Travelling Ayahs in Britain, Oxford University Press (2023)

Fleeting Agencies: A Social History of Indian Coolie Women in British Malaya, Cambridge University Press (2021).


“Stranded: How Travelling Indian Ayahs negotiated War and Abandonment in Europe,” Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 30:1(2023): 33-54

“Becoming Visible: Travel Documents and Travelling Ayahs in the British Empire,” South Asian Studies (2022).

“Pony Up!: Managing Destitution among British Grooms from Australia in Nineteenth Century India,” Journal of Labour History, 122:1 (2022): 155–179

“Responses to Travelling Indian Ayahs in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Britain,” Journal of Historical Geography, 71 (2021): 94-103. (Won the Carol Gold Award for best article in history 2022)

“Knocker Ups: A Social History of Waking up in Victorian Britain’s Industrial Towns,” Journal of Victorian Culture, 25:3 (2020): 331–348. (Selected as JVC Editor’s Choice Article– Summer 2020)

“Negotiating Gendered Spaces in Colonial Press: Wives of European Planters in British Malaya,” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 18:3 (2017).

“Immorality’, Nationalism and the Colonial State in British Malaya: Indian ‘coolie’ women’s intimate lives as ideological battleground,” Journal of Women’s History Review, 25:4 (2016): 584-601.

“Social Memory and Indian Women from Malaya and Singapore in the Rani of Jhansi Regiment,” Journal of Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 88:2 (2015): 77-103.


“Curry tales of the Empire,” Journal of Victorian Culture Online (The blog and online platform of the Journal of Victorian Culture), May 2021.

“Women in the business of waking up industrial Britain” Journal of Victorian Culture Online (The blog and online platform of the Journal of Victorian Culture), June 2020.

“Shampoo Empire: Bengali Migrant’s Trade in Britain,” History Today, 70:3 (March 2020): 40-49.

“Punkhawallahs: Keeping British India Cool,” in History Today, 69:9 (September 2019): 54-63.

-Named as one of the best articles for History Today, 2019.         (

Media Coverage
Country Focus
India, Malaysia, Singapore, Britain
Expertise by Geography
Australia, Asia, British Isles, England, India, Southeast Asia, United Kingdom
Expertise by Chronology
18th century, 19th century, Modern, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
Colonialism, Family, Gender, Labor, Libraries & Archives, Migration & Immigration, Public History, Race, Women, World War I, World War II