Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
The College of New Jersey
Website URL
South Asia, British Empire, Gender & Sexuality, Domestic labor, Visual Culture, Race and Caste
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Satya Shikha Chakraborty (previously, Satyasikha Chakraborty) – I am an Assistant Professor of history at TCNJ – The College of New Jersey. I work on South Asian and British imperial history at the intersection of gender, race, caste and domestic labor. I have a PhD (2019) in History from Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Before moving to New Jersey, I did a Masters in History with certification in Women’s Studies from Jadavpur University, in Kolkata, India.

My scholarly interests lie in South Asian and global histories of gender, sexuality, colonialism, migration, medicine, and visual culture. My book manuscript based on my PhD dissertation – The “Faithful” Ayah in Colonial Households: Gender, Caste, and Race of South Asian Domestic Labors, analyzes household labors, exploitation, and intimacies from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries through the figure of a South Asian maidservant – the ayah. Initially employed in British imperial households, ayahs eventually entered South Asian bourgeois households as well. Excavating the stories of individual ayahs from legal, cultural and medical archives, my dissertation provides an intimate domestic history of British mimicry of Mughal culture, free-market colonial capitalist circulation of labor, colonial modernity, and anti-colonial nationalism. My work brings into conversation South Asian and British imperial historiographies on one hand; and, postcolonial subaltern studies and Black feminist intersectional theories on the other hand.

I am also interested in the contrapuntal history of European women who served as governesses, nurses and nannies in elite South Asian princely households, which will become a second book project. I have published on this topic in the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History. This article has won the Berkshire Conference Article Prize in the history of women, gender and/or sexuality.

The global and connected history of inter-racial care-giving fascinates me. Using my personal collection of early-twentieth-century postcards of racialized nursemaids, I have published a comparative article on the South Asian ayah, the African American mammy and the Indonesian baboe in Visual Culture and Gender. I am curating a digital exhibition of these postcards and their trans-imperial circulation in collaboration with Dr. Joydeep Mitra (Stony Brook University).

Recent Publications

Satya Shikha Chakraborty, “Queer Labors: Female Intimacy, Homoeroticism, and Cross-Dressing in Mughal Courtly Paintings”, Visual Culture and Gender, Vol. 17, September 2022.

Satyasikha Chakraborty, “‘Nurses of Our Ocean Highways’: The Precarious Metropolitan Lives of Colonial South Asian Ayahs”, Journal of Women’s History, 32, No.2, Summer 2020. This article won an Honorable Mention from the Walkowitz Prize Committee of the North American Conference on British Studies, 2021.

Satyasikha Chakraborty, “From Bibis to Ayahs: Sexual Labour, Domestic Labour, and the Moral Politics of Empire”, in Nitin Sinha and Nitin Varma (eds.) Servants’ Pasts: Eighteenth to Twentieth Century South Asia, New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2019

Satyasikha Chakraborty, “Mammies, Ayahs, Baboes: Postcards of Racialized Nursemaids from the Early Twentieth Century”, Visual Culture and Gender, Vol.13, September 2018.

Satyasikha Chakraborty, “European nurses and governesses in Indian Princely households: ‘Uplifting that impenetrable veil?’” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, Volume 19, No. 1, Spring 2018. This article was awarded the 2019 Berkshire Conference Article Prize for the best history article of the year in the field of women, gender and/or sexuality.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
South Asia and the British Empire
Expertise by Geography
England, India
Expertise by Chronology
Early Modern, Modern
Expertise by Topic
Colonialism, Gender, Labor, Medicine, Race, Sexuality, Slavery, Women