Photo of Saurabh MishraDr Saurabh Mishra

Senior Lecturer in History: post 1800

+44 (0)114 22 22617 | Jessop West 2.07

Semester Two 2019/20 Office Hour: Mondays 13:00 - 15:00



Saurabh Mishra joined the History Department at the University of Sheffield in September 2012. He read history at Delhi University, at Jawaharlal Nehru University (Delhi), and completed his Ph.D. at University of Oxford (2008). He subsequently held a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship at the University of Oxford for a project on disease, famines and livestock in colonial North India



Dr Mishra is currently working on a project on indentured labour in British Guiana which investigates the lives and experiences of indentured labourers through the lens of medical/health issues. While the plantation economy has been studied by a number of historians, this project adopts a different perspective by focusing on the medical regime that labourers were subjected to.

Dr Mishra’s larger interests lie in exploring a range of themes connected with the social history of colonial and post-colonial South Asia. More specifically, his focus areas till now have included the following: the history of science and medicine in the subcontinent, the nature of Islam in South Asia, the history of agrarian processes and structures, and the formation of colonial policies and ideologies.

Research Supervision

Completed students:

  • Apurba Chatterjee (second supervisor) - Images of Empire: A Study of Visual Representations in Early British India c.1757-1820

All current students by supervisor | PhD study in History


Books and Edited collections

Beastly Encounters of the Raj: Livelihoods, Livestock and Veterinary Health in India, 1790-1920 (Manchester University Press, March 2015)

Mishra Beastly Encounters book coverBeastly Encounters of the Raj: Livelihoods, Livestock and Veterinary Health in India, 1790-1920 (Manchester University Press, forthcoming, February 2015)

This is the first full-length monograph to examine the history of colonial medicine in India from the perspective of veterinary health. The history of human health in the subcontinent has received a fair amount of attention in the last few decades, but nearly all existing texts have completely ignored the question of animal health. This book will not only fill this gap, but also provide fresh perspectives and insights that might challenge existing arguments.

At the same time, this volume is an attempt at writing the social history of cattle in India. Keeping the question of livestock at the centre, it explores a range of themes such as famines, agrarian relations, urbanisation, middle class attitudes, caste formations etc. The overall aim is to integrate medical history with social history in a way that has not often been attempted.

Pilgrimage, Politics and Pestilence: The Haj from the Indian Subcontinent, 1860-1920, (Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2011)

Saurabh Mishra The Haj from the Indian SubcontinentPilgrimage, Politics and Pestilence: The Haj from the Indian Subcontinent, 1860-1920, (Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2011)

This book situates the Haj in the context of political, commercial, and medical developments in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. It explores pilgrimage against the larger European politics around Mecca and discusses its organization, dynamics, and meanings. The author shows how Haj played an influential role in shaping medical policies and practices, debates, and disease definitions. He also examines the ways in which the pilgrimage was seen by ordinary pilgrims. The volume argues that despite the increasing 'medicalization' of the Haj, pilgrims from the subcontinent continued to view it as an intensely spiritual experience.

Guest editor of a special virtual issue of Social History of Medicine on the theme of veterinary history (September 2014).

Articles and Essays

Invited article for History Compass, entitled ‘Tropical Animals, History-writing and the “Problem” of Anthropomorphism’ (under review)

‘Violence, Resilience and the ‘Coolie’ Identity: Life and Survival on Ships to the Caribbean, 1834-1920’ (under review)

‘Feathered Folk of the “Eastern Skies”: Hunting and Studying Birds in Colonial India, 1820-1930’ (under review)

‘Hakims and Haiza: Unani Medicine and cholera in late Colonial India’, in Biswamoy Pati and Mark Harrison (eds.), Society, Medicine and Politics in Colonial India (In press)

‘Incarceration and Resistance in a Red Sea Lazaretto, 1880-1930’, in Alison Bashford (ed.), Quarantine: Local and Global Histories (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), pp. 54-65

‘Introduction: Veterinary History Comes of Age’, in a virtual special issue of Social History of Medicine on the theme of veterinary history (September 2014).

‘Cattle, Dearth and the Colonial State: Famine in Livestock in India, 1896-1900’, Journal of Social History vol. 46, no. 4, (Summer 2013)

‘Of Poisoners, Tanners and the British Raj: Cattle Poisoning and the Making of the Chamar Caste in Colonial North India, 1850-1880’, in Indian Economic and Social History Review vol. 48, no. 3, (September 2011)

‘Beasts, Murrains and the Raj: Reassessing Colonial Medicine from the Veterinary Perspective, 1860-1900’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine vol. 85, no. 4, (Winter 2011). Received the young scholar award from the World Association for the History of Veterinary Medicine.

‘The Economics of Reproduction: Horse Breeding in Early Colonial India, 1790-1840’, Modern Asian Studies vol. 46, Issue 05, (September 2012)

‘Beyond the Bounds of Time? The Haj from South Asia, 1860-1920’ in Biswamoy Pati and Mark Harrison (eds.), Social History of Health and Medicine in Colonial India (Routledge, 2009)

‘Politicisation of a Holy Act: The Haj from the Indian subcontinent, 1860-1920’ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, vol. 50, nos. 1-2, (2005)


Module Leader

The Making of Modern India, 1780-1965, HST265 (Level 2 Option module)

The Making of Modern India, 1780-1965, HST265

Modern South Asian history has been an exceptionally fertile field of scholarly exploration, with many new insights and theoretical developments emerging from this field. This module will study the recent historiographical trends while looking closely at several historical developments during the period of British rule and the immediate post-colonial period. The module will be divided into four parts: the early colonial period, the late colonial period, the period of anti-colonial resistance or the national movement, and the post-colonial/Nehruvian era. The themes to be studied include: land/agrarian settlements, British expansionist policies, the revolt of 1857, the formation of caste identities, British famine policies, socio-religious reforms, Gandhian mass-mobilization, Islamic assertions, the national movement, Nehruvian socialism, partition of the subcontinent, and post-colonial legacies.

Tools of Empire? Medicine, Science and Colonialism, 1800-1950, HST3132/3133 (Level 3 Special Subject module)

Tools of Empire? Medicine, Science and Colonialism, 1800-1950, HST3132/3133

Western science and biomedicine have, for long, been seen as agents of progress. Research in the last two decades has, however, revealed their close ties with the history of colonial conquest and rule. As a result, scientific inventions such as guns and steamboats are now seen as 'tools of empire'. Also, medical discoveries such as quinine are seen as serving a similar purpose, as they allowed European colonizers to survive the 'disease-ridden jungles' of Africa and Asia.

But how and why did this image of Asia and Africa as the 'white man's grave' come to be formed? What lay behind the idea of the 'Tropics'? How, and in what ways, were the 'Tropics' supposed to affect the European body or constitution? What role did the idea of race play in forming these perceptions? These are some of the questions this module will address.

Another theme that we will discuss in detail is the question of the formation of western science and medicine. We will examine the assumption that modern science and medicine were created solely in the West, and subsequently retailed across the 'uncivilized world'. We will also ask whether various modern scientific disciplines (such as Botany, Geology, Cartography etc) would have been possible without colonialism. The module will also examine ’indigenous’ role in the formation of modern science and medicine. Finally, this module will also study various aspects of modern medicine, as practiced in the colonies, in great detail. We will, for instance, look at the developing notions of madness and psychiatry, the idea of ‘public health’, the impact of epidemics, and the development of new branches of medicine such as bacteriology/laboratory medicine.

In discussing these and other questions, the main focus of the module will be on colonial India, but we will also use examples and readings from other colonial situations, where relevant.

Debt, Money and Morality, HST3304 (Level 3 Comparative module)

Debt, Money and Morality, HST3304

This unit aims to develops students’ ability and confidence in formulating analyses of conceptions and cultures of debt and money across a significant period of time. The module combines interdisciplinary and comparative approaches in case studies of different early modern and modern national/geographic contexts at an advanced level. Topics include the nature of money, ethics of debt, markets, trust, and financial institutions.

Public Engagement

Public Engagement

To follow

In The Media

To follow

Administrative Duties

Administrative Duties

Dissertation Co-ordinator.

Study Abroad and Erasmus Advisor.