Shami Ghosh

Assistant Professor
313B Lillian Massey Building, 125 Queen's Park


Centre for Medieval Studies

Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

Economic and social history; peasants; agrarian history; Germany; Scandinavia; medieval historiography; Marxist and Marxian history and historiography; the pre-history of capitalism.


Shami works across a number of fields in medieval studies, with a focus on Germanic-speaking Europe. Much of his past research has been on medieval historiography and economic history, and he is also broadly interested in social history and the history of everyday life. His first book, Kings' Sagas and Norwegian History (2011), was a study of vernacular and Latin historical writing in Iceland and Norway in the 12th and 13th centuries; his second book, Writing the Barbarian Past (2015), analysed the presentation of the pre-Christian, non-Roman past in a number of Latin and vernacular narratives from the 6th to the 10th century. He has also published articles in Crusades, Agricultural History Review, Journal of Early Modern History, Journal of Agrarian Change, Modern Asian Studies, and Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, among other journals, and over 40 reviews and review essays. He is current two major projects that should result in two monographs over the next ten years: an empirical study of the commercialisation of rural society in late-medieval southern Germany; and a survey of the Great Divergence debate.

Born in India, Shami studied at King's College London (UK), Harvard University, and the University of Toronto, where he received his MA (2005) and PhD (2009) from the Centre for Medieval Studies. Before returning to U of T in 2016, Shami held a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Leicester (UK), a Junior Research Fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford, and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto.


'Rural commercialisation in southern Germany, c.1200-c.1500: sources, problems, and potential', forthcoming in Zeitschrift für Agrargeschichte und Agrarsoziologie (2019).
‘Modernity and capitalism: India and Europe compared’, forthcoming in Historical Materialism [Brill].
‘Rural commercialisation in fourteenth-century southern Germany: the evidence from Scheyern Abbey’, Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 104, 1 (2017), 52–77.
‘Rural economies and transitions to capitalism: Germany and England compared (c.1200–c.1800)’, Journal of Agrarian Change, 16, 2 (2016), 255–90.
‘A rejoinder to Tirthankar Roy’, Modern Asian Studies, 49, 5 (2015), 1667–74.
‘How should we approach the economy of “early modern India”? A review article’, Modern Asian Studies, 49, 5 (2015), 1606–56.
[Published as the first part of a debate with Tirthankar Roy, including his response and my rejoinder to it.] ‘The “great divergence”, politics, and capitalism’, Journal of Early Modern History, 19, 1 (2015), 1–43.
‘The imperial abbey of Ellwangen and its peasants: a study of the polyptych of 1337’, Agricultural History Review, 62, 2 (2014), 187–209.
‘Conquest, conversion and heathen customs in Henry of Livonia’s Chronicon Livoniae and the Livländische Reimchronik’, Crusades, 11 (2012), 87–108.
‘Condwiramurs’, Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte, 82, 1 (2008), 3–25.
‘On the origins of Germanic heroic poetry: a case study of the legend of the Burgundians’, Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur, 129, 2 (2007), 220–52.
‘Forms of kinship: unresolved tensions in Wolfram’s Willehalm’, Euphorion, 97, 3 (2003), 303–25.

Over 40 reviews and review articles in Speculum, Sixteenth-Century Journal, Medium Aevum, Canadian Journal of History, Reviews in History, The Medieval Review, Early Medieval Europe, among others.


PhD, University of Toronto
MA, University of Toronto
BA, King's College London