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headshot of Arnab Dey

Arnab Dey

Associate Professor



Arnab Dey is a historian of modern India, with research interests spanning the fields of labor, political economy, law, and environmental history. Dey’s first project on the tea plantation economy of Assam culminated in Tea Environments and Plantation Culture: Imperial Disarray in Eastern India (Cambridge University Press). Nominated for the Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize by the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) in 2019, this book argues that this cash-crop enterprise in British India was largely an unregulated house that manipulated law as much as labor, politics as much as pathogens, and the crop as much as capital. It also shows how this tea economy’s large-scale ecological and human transformation in the region created disease habitats, worker impoverishment and social unrest that have lasted until this day.

His ongoing second project explores conditions of human precarity and ecological "ruin" spawned by early globalization and the Industrial Age. He was an invited faculty fellow at the Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU)'s Käte Hamburger Research Center in Munich, Germany, in the spring and summer of 2023 to work on these research questions. For this project, Dey has also been invited to be a member of the Institute for Advanced Study's School of Historical Studies at Princeton in the spring and summer of 2025.

Dey welcomes graduate and undergraduate students wishing to explore related questions on modern South Asia, bio-colonialism and the environment, labor studies, medical history, science and the British Empire, and historical methods.


  • PhD, MA, University of Chicago
  • MPhil, MA, BA, University of Delhi

Research Interests

  • Modern South Asia
  • Environmental and labor history
  • Literature and history
  • Social theory
  • British Empire

Teaching Interests

  • Environment and empire
  • Modern India
  • Democracy and discontent
  • Commodity cultures
  • Histories of prejudice


  • Member of the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 2025
  • Global dis:connect Fellow, Käte Hamburger Research Center, LMU Munich, 2023-24
  • Harpur College Faculty Research Grant, 2024-25; 2018-21
  • Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities Binghamton University Faculty Fellowship, fall 2024, fall 2018
  • Carson Fellowship, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU Munich, 2016

Research Profile

Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae