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Radha Kumar

Radha Kumar

Contact Information:


514 Eggers Hall

Radha Kumar

Associate Professor, History Department

Senior Research Associate and Advisory Board Member, South Asia Center


HST 122 Global History: 1750 to the present
HST 328 Ancient and Medieval India 
HST 329 Making of Modern India 
HST 300 Religion in South Asian Politics 
HST 372 Caste & Inequality in Modern India.
HST 401 (Undergraduate Research Seminar) The Colonial City 

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., Princeton University, 2015


Radha Kumar is a historian of colonial and postcolonial South Asia, focusing on the Tamil-speaking regions of southern India. Her first book, "Police Matters: The Everyday State and Caste Politics in South India, 1900-1975" (Cornell University Press, 2021), draws on previously unexplored police records to examine the close ties between police and caste authority that were displayed at everyday as well as exceptional moments through much of the twentieth century.

She has commenced work on a second project on the Kaveri river dispute in southern India. The study will explore how colonial subjects and postcolonial citizens made their claims to water, and to political belonging, between the late-nineteenth and the early twenty-first centuries. At Syracuse, she teaches courses on global history, Indian history from the ancient period till the present day, and caste and religious politics in modern India. 

Currently, Radha is not accepting graduate students. 

Areas of Expertise

Modern South Asia: policing and sovereignty, legal history, colonial and post-colonial politics


“Witnessing Violence, Witnessing as Violence: Police Torture and Power in Twentieth-century India,” Law & Social Inquiry (FirstView, 15 Dec 2021).

“Vacant Villages: Policing Riots in Colonial India,” in Neilesh Bose ed. India after World History: Literature, Comparison, and Approaches in Globalization, Leiden University Press, pp. 151-168.  

"Police Matters: The Everyday State and Caste Politics, 1900-1975" (Cornell University Press, 2021) 

“Policing Everyday Life: The FIR in the Tamil Countryside, c. 1900-1950,” Indian Economic and Social History Review, 54, 3, 2017, pp. 361-87.

“Seeing Like a Policeman: Everyday Violence in British India, c. 1900-1950,” in Dwyer, Nettelbeck and Ryan eds Violence, Colonialism and Empire in the Modern World, Cambridge Imperial and Post-colonial Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.