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Professor Ian Talbot BA, MA, PhD, FHistR, FRAS

Emeritus Professor in History of Modern South Asia

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Professor Ian Talbot is Emeritus Professor in History of Modern South Asia at the University of Southampton.

Educated at Royal Holloway College, University of London where I graduated with a BA First in Modern History, Economic History and Politics in 1976. I was awarded a University of London PhD in 1981 for my doctoral thesis, ‘The Growth of the Muslim League in the Punjab 1937-46.’ I was awarded an MA in History from the University of Oxford in 2004.

Appointments held

From 2017-2021, I was an elected Council member of the Royal Asiatic Society. I was previously Chair of the British Association for South Asian Studies (2011-14) and a Member of the British academy South Asian Panel (2011-16).

I have held visiting fellowships at the University of Warwick (2012-13), and Balliol College, Oxford (2003-4). Most recently (2018-19) I was a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the South Asia Institute, Harvard University.


Research interests

Throughout my academic career, I have developed key interests in the fields of the history of the colonial Punjab; the 1947 Partition of India and the history of Pakistan.

I have published 10 monographs, three jointly written volumes and six edited volumes in these areas, along with numerous book chapters and articles. My most recent publications are: ‘The History of British Diplomacy in Pakistan’ (Routledge, 2021); ‘Punjab and the Raj’ (Manohar, 2020); ‘A History of Modern South Asia’ (Yale University Press 2016); ‘Colonial Lahore: A History of the City and Beyond’ (co-written with Tahir Kamran, Hurst 2016).

Current Research

I have recently completed a research project on the history of British diplomacy in Pakistan. This was published as a monograph by Routledge in 2021. I am now working on the following projects:


Urban Environmental History of South Asia

I am currently undertaking a project on urban environmental history in South Asia. The contemporary environmental issues arising from rapid South Asian urbanization are seldom studied in terms of a historical context, or one that looks beyond an Indo-centric approach. It is striking that the city is a neglected field within South Asian environmental history. This subject has been dominated by studies of imperial policies and ideologies in forestry and water management and their environmental impacts. The project seeks to establish an ‘urban turn’ to the study of colonial and post-colonial environmental history in South Asia. It has been assisted by my holding an associate research fellowship since 2021 at the Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University.

In July 2021 I co-convened an online conference on this theme with the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. In addition to research on my own case study of late colonial and early independence Lahore, I will jointly edit a conference volume. 


Rethinking Partition Violence

I am also working on a project that at the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and partition examines the violence which resulted in massacres and mass migration in North India. The project focuses on the first phase of violence in the worst affected province of the Punjab. The case study of what is known as the Rawalpindi Massacres will both provide fresh empirical evidence and enable a reconceptualization of the wider phenomenon of partition-related violence.

I am a member of the editorial board of Rivista italiana di storia internazionale. I am also a member of the Council of the Royal Asiatic Society. I have been providing independent research analysis for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since 1999. My most recent consultancy was with the European Union as an Expert External Speaker at the European Asylum Support Office COI Specialist Network Meeting on Pakistan in Malta 19-20 November 2019.

Professor Ian Talbot
Building 65, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Southampton SO17 1BF, United Kingdom

Room Number : 65/2075

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