Gunnel Cederlöf

Gunnel Cederlöf

Department of Cultural Sciences Faculty of Arts and Humanities
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Professor of History at the Department of Cultural Sciences and member of the Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies.


During 2022, I work fulltime in the project 'Exception and Emergency - British Imperial Governance in Asien Frontier Tracts'. I teach again at the Department of Cultural Sciences from February 2023.

I teach and supervise students at the undergraduate and advanced levels, and coordinate the courses: Research fields in postcolonial environments, Modern natures and postcolonial ecologies, and Postcolonial encounters.


My research combines environmental history, legal history, and colonial and British imperial history. It connects global and local history, and has a particular focus on early modern and modern India.

I hold a PhD (history) from Uppsala University where I was employed Professor of History from 2011. The thesis was published as Bonds Lost: Subordination, Conflict and Mobilisation in Rural South India c. 1900-1970 (Manohar 1997, 2020). It studies bonded agrarian labour and the social history of the transformed South Indian agrarian economy. Across the years, my work has focused on relations between nature, political power, socio-economic change, and law, with an emphasis on people who are the most exposed to societal transformations. Monographs and edited volumes in this field: Landscapes and the Law: Environmental Politics, Regional Histories, and Contests over Nature (Permanent Black 2008, Oxford University Press 2019). Ecological Nationalisms: Nature, Livelihoods and Identities in South Asia (Washington UP & Permanent Black 2005, with K. Sivaramakrishnan) advanced questions of manifestations in nature of identity and nation. At Nature’s Edge: The Global Present and Long-term History (Oxford University Press 2015, with M. Rangarajan).

I presently research how political power, subjecthood, and polity formed when the British Empire grew in Asia. It covers issues of commerce, law, land and property, and the impact of monsoons and disasters. Monograph and edited volume: Founding an Empire on India's North-eastern Frontiers, 1790-1840: Climate, Commerce, Polity (Oxford UP 2014, Bengali translation 2018) combine climate and legal history for the study of the southwestern branch of the Silk Road network. In the edited volume Subjects, Citizens and Law: Colonial and Independent India (Routledge 2016, with Das Gupta) discuss the practice of legal rights from early colonial times to the present.


Visiting Fellow at SCAS, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies (2000), Oxford University (2000-01), Jawaharlal Nehru University (2010) and Calcutta University (across 2004-13), and Director of the Forum for Advanced Studies in Arts, Languages, and Theology at Uppsala University (2006-08), and Vice Chair of STINT, the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and higher Education (2013-19).

Member of the Council for the European Association for South Asian Studies (EASAS) 2016-20.

Working member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.

Senior Associate Research Fellow within the Swedish Institute of International Affairs Asia Programme.


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