Shaivya Mishra

PhD Candidate

South Asia


As an advanced doctoral candidate, I work on the history of underground nationalism and modern surveillance networks in the bustling cities of 20th century British India. My dissertation The Bomb, the Bullet and the Gandhi Cap: Violent Nationalism and Political Surveillance in Colonial India, 1906-1945 is a cultural history which explores a question that has long puzzled historians of modern South Asia: why was a nationalist movement presumably committed to Gandhian non-violence plagued by such extraordinary violence? Integrating a wide variety of multilingual local sources in English, Hindi and Urdu— from unexplored intelligence reports, recently declassified police records, old interview transcripts, intercepted personal letters, as well as popular and visual traditions fostered by travelling revolutionaries, underground publishing houses and hidden bookshops—my project explores the little-known entanglements between constitutional organizations like the Indian National Congress (INC) and the many violent secret societies of British India in search of answers. While a history of modern politics framed around a strict division between the two traditions has been written, The Bomb, the Bullet and the Gandhi Cap brings to life an anti-colonial world marked by movement, circulation and secrecy, and in so doing, offers a fuller understanding of why violence, as much as non-violence, is the language of politics in the post-colonial world.

In addition to my ongoing dissertation, I am also exploring a second book project titled The Empire of Spies: South Asian Dissent and the Making of Transatlantic Surveillance in 20th Century North America. Part global history, part history of technology, part history of race and immigration, The Empire of Spies will be the first comprehensive study of the transatlantic surveillance networks—overt and covert—as well as institutions, technologies, legal infrastructures and social relationships through which the British policed South Asian dissent in 20th century America.

Research Interests

Global anti-colonialism 

British Empire

History of Science and Technology

Religion 

Selected Awards

2021: Maharaj Kaul Memorial Grant for Research Travel, Institute for South Asian Studies, Berkeley. 

2019: Junior Research Fellowship, American Institute of Indian Studies

2019: Kumkum Chatterjee Memorial Fellowship in Indian History, American Institute of Indian Studies 

2014-2017: Department of History Fellowship for Graduate Studies, UC Berkeley.

Presentations

“The Adventures of Detective Luck and Sergeant Chance: The Advent of Political Surveillance in 20th Century India”, Policing Thought, Surveilling Bodies: Everyday Operations of State Power in Colonial India, Annual Conference on South Asia – Madison October 22, 2021.  

"Spies in the Household: Surveilling Political Dissent in British India”, Rocky  Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference 2021, Sept 18 , 2021. 

 “Spinning Khaddar, Throwing Bombs: The Indian National Congress and the Revolutionary Movement, 1920-32”, South and South East Asian Studies Department, UC Berkeley, Graduate Roundtable Talk on 2nd December, 2020. 

 “Swarajya Party and Hindutva” , Guest lecture for History 114B, Gandhi’s India, March 5 , 2020, UC Berkeley.

 “Gandhi, Jallianwala Bagh and Khilafat” , Guest lecture for History 114B, Gandhi’s India, February 20 , 2020, UC Berkeley. 

 “Revolutionary Lives in Colonial India: Nationalism and Colonial Surveillance in the United Provinces, 1907-1944,” American Institute of Indian Studies, Junior Fellows Conference, Delhi, January 2019. 

 “Colonial Knowledge and Power” , Guest Lecture for History 11, History of India, October 9, 2015, UC Berkeley.

Teaching

Fall 2021 History 103: Bullets, Sedition and Surveillance in the British Empire: Radical Politics and the Decolonization of South Asia, Primary Instructor.

Spring 2020 Media Studies 111: Media History, Graduate Student Instructor.

Fall 2017 History 114A: Medieval and Early Modern India to the Coming of the British, Graduate Student Reader.

Spring 2017 History 114A: Gandhi's India: The Making of Modern South Asia, Graduate Student Reader.

Fall 2016 History 100AC: The History of Women in the United States before 1900, Graduate 

Student Reader.

Spring 2016 History 104: The Craft of History, Graduate Student Instructor. 

Fall 2015 History 11: History of India, Graduate Student Instructor.