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Birla, Ritu Ph.D. Columbia
Associate Professor, St. George Campus
(416) 978-8476

Office: SS 3056
Field: Modern South Asian History,  capitalism and culture, colonial/ postcolonial studies, legal history, and critical/gendered approaches to social/political theory

Professor Birla's research and teaching interests include modern South Asian history and colonial studies; histories of capitalism and genealogies of modernity; culture, economy, and the social imaginaries of liberal governance; postcolonial intellectual history and historiography; fiction (legal and literary) and history; history, epistemology and ethics; and critical and gendered approaches to law and society. Her recent book, Stages of Capital: Law, Culture and Market Governance in Late Colonial India (Duke University Press, 2009), charts an unprecedented history of market society and the modern subject in India through a study of colonial law and jurisprudence regulating commerce, finance, speculation and charitable gifting. Delving into law on economy to examine processes of modern subject-formation, the emergence of the market as an abstract template for social relations, and the making of the public, Birla's work brings empirical research on South Asia to current questions in political and social theory.  Recent articles have addressed the practice of history as the work of translation, critical approaches to area studies, and the relationship of ethics and culture in discourses on markets. She is currently the co-coordinator of a series of global discussions on M.K. Gandhi and ethics in transnationality, under the aegis of the Sister Cities Project of the Society for Transnational Cultural Studies and its journal Public Culture.