Sugata Bose

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Sugata Bose : biography

1956 –

Sugata Bose is a historian, author and Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs at Harvard University.


Academic life

After completing his Ph.D. at Cambridge, Sugata Bose began his career as a professor of history and diplomacy at Tufts University; in 1997, Bose was a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship. Bose was appointed the Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs at Harvard University in 2001. From 2003 to 2010, Bose served as Founder-Director of the university’s South Asia Initiative, and has served as the Director of Graduate Studies for Harvard’s Department of History.


Bose is the author and editor of numerous books on the economic, social and political history of modern South Asia. Beginning his career with work on the economy of agrarian Bengal, Bose published two volumes on his research. Agrarian Bengal: Economy, Social Structure and Politics, 1919-1947, published in 1986, contextualized rural economic life within the wider currents of the global economy, while a 1993 contribution to the New Cambridge History of India, Peasant Labour and Colonial Capital: Rural Bengal since 1770, analyzed two and a half centuries of regional economic and social change.

Bose subsequently pioneered work on the centrality of the Indian Ocean to the connected histories of South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa. A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire, published in 2006, situated the Indian Ocean as vital in the cultural and economic life of these regions, taking its cues from historians like Fernand Braudel and Bernard Bailyn, who had advanced earlier, pioneering studies of the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, respectively.

After co-editing several volumes of Subhas Chandra Bose’s papers and correspondence, in 2011 Bose published His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle against Empire, a major study of the elder Bose. In January 2012, Bose joined New Yorker editor David Remnick, former New York Times editor Joseph Lelyveld and journalist Peter Popham at the sixth Jaipur Literature Festival in a panel on the challenges of biographical writing.

Bose has been active in researching, speaking, and publishing on Rabindranath Tagore, contributing to projects across different media. In 2007, Krishna and Sugata Bose co-edited Purabi: the East in its Feminine Gender, a book and CD of Tagore’s poetry and music. Bose has produced a four-CD set of Tagore’s songs written outside of India as Visva Yatri Rabindranath, and has lectured widely on Tagore in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Educational initiatives

Beyond his work at Harvard and Tufts, Bose has helped steer two major projects advancing higher education in India. Since 2007, Bose has been a member of the Government of India’s Nalanda Mentor Group, which seeks to establish an international university on the site of the ancient University of Nalanda in Bihar. Since 2011, Bose has served as chairman of the Presidency College Mentor Group, which seeks to revitalize the 194-year-old Kolkata college. In 2011, Presidency University announced that, "bolstered by historian Sugata Bose’s mentor group and Amartya Sen’s aura," applications for admission had nearly doubled to 19,000.

Mention regarding alleged ashes of Netaji

Sugata Bose wrote in his book His Majesty’s Opponent that a part of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s ashes were kept in the house of Rama Murti, the founder of Indian Independence League in Tokyo.His Majesty’s Opponent – Sugata Bose, p. 367, ISBN 978-0-674-04754-9 He also mentioned that the ashes were brought to India in 2006 under the intimation of the Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh. New Delhi based not-for-profit organisation Mission Netaji sought the validity of this information though the Right to Information act, and received the information from the Prime Minister’s Office that "no such information exists."

Early life

Sugata Bose was born in Calcutta, India. After studying at Presidency College, Kolkata, Bose subsequently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Eric Stokes, before being named a Fellow of St. Catharine’s College at Cambridge.


The grandnephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and grandson of nationalist leader Sarat Chandra Bose, Bose is the son of former Trinamool Congress parliamentarian Krishna Bose and eminent freedom fighter and pediatrician Sisir Kumar Bose. Bose’s brother, Sumantra Bose, is Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics; his sister, Sarmila Bose, is Senior Research Associate at the Centre for International Studies at Oxford University. Bose’s partner is Ayesha Jalal, a prominent Pakistani-American historian and the Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University