Meera Ashar

AsPr Meera Ashar


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Meera Ashar is a historian of ideas at the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of history, political theory and literary studies. Her work questions categories and conceptual frameworks with which we seek to make sense of human societies past and present. In critically investigating the genealogy of the terms with which human and social sciences make sense of the world, she engages in a study of colonialism, postcolonialism, decolonization and nationalism.

Her manuscript on the social history of colonial Gujarat examines the region through the lens of a controversial nineteenth-century novel, Saraswatichandra; its author and its audience. She has also coedited a volume on Everyday English Keywords in India.  

Meera is currently the Director of the South Asia Research Institute (SARI). She has previously worked as an Assistant Professor at the City University of Hong Kong and was the LM Singhvi Fellow at the Centre of South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge. 

Meera reads and writes in several South Asian languages and in a couple of European ones. 

Researcher's projects

Everyday Pasts: Goverdhanram's Saraswatichandra and the Quest for Modernity in Gujarat (Book manuscript)

Ways of Belonging: Discourses of the Nation and Desh in South Asia 

The 1862 Maharaj Libel Case

Folk Children's Stories from Western India 

Cultures of Learning: Education and Instruction in Colonial Western India 
Comparative Perspectives on Colonial Education in Asia and the Pacific (with Dr. Hongling Liang)

Everyday English Keywords in South Asia (with Prof. Craig Jeffrey and A/Prof Assa Doron)

Current student projects

PhD students

Mark Jones (Chair of Phd Committee)
Thesis title: Rule of law for Zomia: Colonial Rule in Kumaon

Ben Langley (Chair of PhD Committee)
Thesis title: Reorganisation of states and state formation in Postcolonial India

Mizanur Rahman (Chair of Phd Committee)

Nonie Tuxen (Supervisor)
Thesis title: Desiring Overseas Education: accumulating capital in the "new" urban Indian middle class

Research interests


Colonial and Modern South Asia; British Empire; Western India and Pakistan; Colonial Education; Identity, Selfhood and Belonging; Coloniality and Postcolonialism; Legal Histories; Gandhi; Keywords, Categories and Concepts of Politics; History of Ideas. 


Past student projects

Completed PhD students

Megan Downes (Supervisor)
Thesis title: Tradition and modernity: Negotiating constructed binaries in Indonesian popular culture 

Maria Myutel (Supervisor)
Thesis title: Media representation of Indian diaspora in Indonesia

Lisa Stewart (Adviser)
Thesis title: Going with the Flow: Social Context, Uncertainty and Decision Making

Completed MPhil students

Mark Jones
Thesis title: From Zomia to Cosmopolitanism 

Completed Honours students

Felix Pal
Thesis title: Everyday Communalisms: How Hindu Nationalist constructions of citizenship 
affect Indian Muslim perceptions of their own 'Indianness' 

Ben Langley
Thesis title: Elephants watching Dragons- The changing perceptions of China in India from 1947 to the present. 

Mirabella Wawn
Thesis title: The Concept of Corruption in India


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