Dr Manu Sehgal

Department of History
Lecturer in South Asian History

I am historian of colonial South Asia with particular interest in the political and social history of the British empire. My work explores the critical importance of territorial contestation in shaping colonial rule during the long eighteenth century and articulations of sovereignty in colonial South Asia. I am also interested in gender history and law across the British empire


  • PhD in History, University of Exeter
  • MPhil in History, University of Delhi
  • MA in Modern Indian History, University of Delhi
  • BA (Hons) History, University of Delhi


I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at St Stephen’s College, New Delhi and completed my M.Phil. at the University of Delhi. After my Ph.D. at University of Exeter I joined the University of Birmingham in 2014, where I have developed research capacity and teaching with a particular focus on colonial, imperial and global histories of South Asia.



First year

  • Practising History: Empires Torn Asunder: Understanding the Revolt of 1857
  • Making of the Contemporary World, c.1800-2000

Second year

  • Making of Modern India, c.1885-1964
  • Group Research:Empire, Identity and Difference: the Colonial Encounter in India
  • History, Theory and Practice (convenor, 2016- )
  • Research Methods (convenor 2014-16)

Third year

  • History Dissertations (convenor 2014-16)
  • From Empire to Colony: Indian Society, Politics and Economy, c.1757-1885


  • Historical Methods
  • MA in Global History


I am currently finalizing my first monograph entitled Creating an Early Colonial Order: Conquest and Contestation in South Asia, c.1775-1807, which will be published by Oxford University Press in 2018. It will examine, for the first time, the implications of protracted warfare and the processes of state-formation for the establishment of colonial rule in eighteenth-century South Asia. I have also published on the politics of mobilizing Indian soldiers for the First World War.

My research on eighteenth century history has developed into another project on the political economy of conquest and the origins of colonial finance as a part of the East India Company state’s bid to monopolize all legitimate means of coercion. This work will involve an in-depth engagement with the material basis of early colonial rule and territorial contestation in South Asia.

My growing research on twentieth century north India is currently being developed into a project that explores violence towards women that has been historically important in this region and has generated significant contemporary interest. This project will make a substantive intervention in debates over – persistent gender discrimination in rural North India, changing meanings of domesticity, marital violence and property ownership, religious beliefs and the life histories of women as subaltern agents.




  • Development
  • Gender equalities
  • Gender and development
  • Foreign Relations (especially South Asia)
  • Economic development
  • Countering domestic violence
  • South Asia (especially India)
  • Contemporary India (society and culture)