Fellow (Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies)


C19 – Forschungsbau „Weltbeziehungen“ / C19.03.08

Office hours

by arrangement

Visiting address

Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien
C19 – Forschungsbau „Weltbeziehungen“
Max-Weber-Allee 3
99089 Erfurt

Mailing address

Universität Erfurt
Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien
Postfach 90 02 21
99105 Erfurt

Supriya Chaudhuri

Personal information

Supriya Chaudhuri is Professor of English (Emerita) at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, and was formerly Director of its School of Languages and Linguistics, Head of the Department of English, and Co-ordinator of its Centre of Advanced Study. She studied English Literature at Presidency College, Kolkata, and at the University of Oxford, taking First Class Honours in English from St Hilda’s College in 1975 on a State Scholarship and a D.Phil. in English Renaissance Literature in 1981 from St Anne’s College as an Inlaks Scholar.

Supriya Chaudhuri was a Fellow at the Max-Weber-Kolleg during the first phase of the “Religion and Urbanity” project in 2019. In 2018, she was TORCH-Mellon Global South Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford. She has also held visiting fellowships/ professorships at the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) and Churchill College, University of Cambridge; at the University of Paris-Sorbonne; at the Institute of Humanities and Global Cultures, University of Virginia; at the Department of English, University of Delhi; and the School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. She served as Chairperson of the Indian Education Ministry Committee for an Innovation University for the Liberal Arts and has advised on research and higher education policies for the University Grants Commission and the Education Ministry, Government of India. She was on the Advisory Board of the National Library of India, and is currently a member of the Peer Review College, Arts and Humanities Research Council, United Kingdom Research and Innovation (AHRC-UKRI). She is an active participant in debates on higher education, academic freedom, gender, rights and justice in India.

Supriya Chaudhuri’s areas of specialization are English and European Renaissance and early modern studies, Indian cultural and literary history, modernism, urban studies, critical theory, cinema, sport, translation, and travel writing, and she has published extensively in these fields. She has also led a European Union-funded International Collaborative Project (E-QUAL), a Leverhulme Trust International Partnership, a UGC-UKIERI Project and other international research projects on behalf of her university.   

Research project

Merchants, religion and urbanism: the entanglements of trade, travel, and faith in pre-modern South Asia

The relation of mercantile culture, travel and trade with religious faith, practice and patronage, especially in urban centres, has been extensively studied in Europe: recent scholarship has also focused on the entangled routes of religion and trade, proselytizing and commerce that drive early European colonial and imperial enterprises and produce the global networks of the modern world. My project will look at these networks from the perspective of pre-modern South Asia, focusing on merchants, religion and urban centres in the Indian subcontinent, and the entanglements of religion and trade during this critical period in the making of the global world economy.

I will be focusing both on literary texts and on the accounts of merchant travellers to reconstitute a dynamic moment of cultural encounter, world-making, identity-formation, discovery, fantasy and misrecognition. My literary texts will be taken from a class of narrative poems known as the magalakāvyas, composed over a few centuries in medieval and early modern Bengal, which describe how a flourishing mercantile culture, located in urban centres, is effectively ‘claimed’ by local religious cults and practices. Merchants, rather than kings, are central to the life-world of the magalakāvyas, which often describe how a rich trader, initially reluctant to embrace the cult of a powerful local deity, is persuaded to do so by a series of calamities visited upon him by the deity in question. These texts often indicate the mingling of strands of Hindu and Muslim, Brahmanical and subaltern devotional practices in a plural society, and in the context not of the court but of the market and the town. I will attempt to read them in conjunction with the accounts of local religious practices found in the travel accounts of European traders to the East, particularly in South Asia, and a class of interactions and exchanges best described as “merchant encounters.” These accounts served to transmit a narrative of human diversity to early modern Europe, informing its intellectual, moral and ethnological categories, but they also disseminated grossly distorted notions of Indian art and devotion. My project will examine this critical period of cultural encounter, setting up a web of connections between trade, travel and religion.




  1. Religion and the City in India, ed. (London: Routledge, 2022): published August 2021.
  2. Envisioning the Indian City: Spaces of Encounter, ed. with N. Das (Kolkata: Jadavpur University Press, forthcoming)
  3. Commodities and Culture in the Colonial World (London: Routledge, 2018), edited with Josephine McDonagh, Brian Murray, and Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
  4. Reconsidering English Studies in Indian Higher Education (London: Routledge, 2015) with Suman Gupta, Richard Allen and Subarno Chattarji
  5. Fields of Play: Sport, Literature and Culture (Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2015) co-edited with Poonam Trivedi
  6. Sport, Literature, Society: Cultural Historical Studies (London: Routledge, 2013), co-edited with Alexis Tadié and J. A. Mangan
  7. Petrarch: The Self and The World (Kolkata: Jadavpur University Press, 2012), co-edited with Sukanta Chaudhuri
  8. The Writer’s Feast: Food and the Cultures of Representation (Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2011), co-edited with Rimi B. Chatterjee
  9. Conversations with Jacqueline Rose, by Supriya Chaudhuri, Aveek Sen, Rosemary Bechler, Anthony Lerman, Henrietta Moore and Stephen Frosh (Calcutta: Seagull Books/ University of Chicago Press, 2010)
  10. Relationships, a novel by Rabindranath Tagore (Delhi: Oxford University Press, Oxford Tagore Translations Series, 2005), translated with critical introduction (nominated for TLS Book of the Year, 2008)
  11. Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay: Collected Prose (Delhi: Oxford University Press, forthcoming), translated and co-edited with Jasodhara Bagchi
  12. Literature and Philosophy: Essaying Connections (Kolkata: Papyrus, 2006), ed.
  13. Literature and Gender: Essays for Jasodhara Bagchi (Delhi: Orient Longman, 2002), co-edited with Sajni Mukherji
  14. Writing Over: Medieval to Renaissance (Delhi: Allied Publishers, 1996), co-edited with Sukanta Chaudhuri

Book-chapters (last 5 years only)

  1. ‘Point, line, plane: Nasreen Mohamedi and avant-garde abstraction’, in Brinda Bose and Suchismito Khatua, ed. Aesthetics in the Fray: The Avant-Garde in India, Volume 2 (Routledge: forthcoming 2024).
  2.  ‘Empire, translation and world literature: Calcutta Orientalists and the Fort William College’, The Cambridge Companion to World Literature and the British Empire, ed. Baidik Bhattacharya, forthcoming 2024
  3.  ‘Out of Place: Migration, knowledge and what remains’ in Migrant Knowledge, ed. Subha Mukherji, Natalya Din-Kariuki and Rowan Williams (Santa Barbara: Punctum Books, forthcoming 2024)
  4.  ‘Narratives of struggle: boxing, gender and community’, in Boxing, Narrative, Culture: Critical Perspectives ed. Sarah Crews and P. Solomon Lennox (Routledge: London, 2024), 55-71
  5.  ‘Registers of the New: Translating Modernity in 19th and 20th Century India’ in Indian Modernities: Literary Cultures from the 18th to the 20th Century, ed. Nishat Zaidi (London: Routledge, 2024), 23-41.
  6. ‘The Village in Bengali Modernity,’ Oxford Handbook of Modern Indian Literatures ed. Anjali Nerlekar and Ulka Anjaria (Oxford: OUP, 2023), https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780197647912.013.23 Pages C23S1–C23N5, published 23 October 2023.
  7. ‘Region, Nation, Border: Histories of Land and Water’, in Frontiers of South Asian Culture: Nation, Trans-Nation and Beyond ed. Amitendu Bhattacharya and Parichay Patra (New York: Routledge, 2024), 139-54
  8.  ‘Adda into Print: Cosmopolitan Sociability and Literary Networks,’ in The Bloomsbury Handbook of Postcolonial Print Cultures, ed. Toral Jatin Gajarawala, Neelam Srivastava, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, and Jack Webb (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2024), 387-402
  9.  ‘The Traveller as Internationalist: Syed Mujtaba Ali,’ in The Form of Ideology and the Ideology of Form: Cold War, Decolonization and Third World Print Cultures, ed. Francesca Orsini, Neelam Srivastava and Laetitia Zecchini (London: Open Book Publishers, 2022), 31-66.
  10.  ‘Thinking with Animals: Machiavelli’s L’Asino and the Metamorphoses of Power’, in Sukanta Chaudhuri and Prasanta Chakravarty, ed. Machiavelli Then and Now: History, Politics, Literature (Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2022), 193-218.
  11.  ‘Spaces of the Sacred: Religious Practice in Urban Interstices’, in Religion and Urbanity ed. Susanne Rau and Jörg Rüpke (Berlin: De Gruyter 2021) online at https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/urbrel/html
  12.  ‘Introduction’ and ‘The Making of a City: Religion and Society in the Candi-mangala of Early Modern Bengal’, in Religion and the City in India, ed. S. Chaudhuri (London: Routledge, 2022), 1-29.
  13. ‘Marked Unsafe: Women, Violence, and the State of Risk’, in Psychoanalytic and Socio-Cultural Perspectives on Women in India: Violence, Safety and Survival, ed. Paula L. Ellman, Jhuma Basak and Gertraud Schlesinger-Kipp (London: Routledge, 2022, published July 2021), 20-31.
  14. ‘Virginia Woolf and Compost’, in Recycling Virginia Woolf in Contemporary Art and Literature, ed. Monica Latham, Caroline Marie, and Anne-Laure Rigeade (London: Routledge, 2022, published July 2021), 36-52. 
  15.  ‘Global Shakespeare and the Question of a World Literature’, in Asian Interventions in Global Shakespeare: ‘All the World’s his Stage’, ed. Poonam Trivedi, Paromita Chakravarti, and Ted Motohashi (New York: Routledge, 2021), 195-212. 
  16. ‘Bhadralok’, in Keywords for India: A Conceptual Lexicon for the 21st century, ed. Rukmini Bhaya Nair and Peter Ronald de Souza (Delhi: Bloomsbury, 2020)
  17. ‘Foreword’ in Nabarun Bhattacharya: Aesthetics and Politics in a World After Ethics, ed. A. Chattopadhyay, S. Sengupta, and S. Bhattacharya (Bloomsbury, 2020).
  18.  Desiring Bengal: Trade, culture, and the first English traveller to eastern India’ in Desiring India, ed. Niranjan Goswami (Kolkata: JUP, 2020), 14-31
  19.  ‘Imagined Worlds: the prose fiction of Rabindranath Tagore’, in The Cambridge Companion to Rabindranath Tagore, ed. Sukanta Chaudhuri (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 131-57
  20. ’Managing Quality and Excellence: Conceptual and Institutional Factors’, in India Higher Education Report 2019: Governance and Management of Higher Education in India ed. NV Varghese and Garima Malik (New Delhi: Sage/ CPRHE, NIEPA, 2020): Chapter 11.
  21.  ‘‘Not fit for any other pursuit’: Shifting places, shifting identities in Ludovico de Varthema’s Itinerario’ in Eastern Resonances in Early Modern England, ed. Claire Gallien and Ladan Niayesh (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 17-34
  22. ‘Seeing Things: Tagore’s Sense of the Real’, in Tagore, Einstein and the Nature of Reality: Literary and Philosophical Reflections, ed. Partha Ghose (London: Routledge, 2019), 73-91
  23. ‘Eyes Wide Shut: Seeing and Knowing in Othello’ and ‘What does the Slave know? A Response to Stephen Spiess’ in Subha Mukherji, ed. Blind Spots of Knowledge in Shakespeare and his World (Medieval Institute Publications: University Press at Kalamazoo, 2019) 75-88; 153-55
  24. ‘Indian Travel Writing’, in The Cambridge History of Travel Writing, ed. Nandini Das and Tim Youngs (Cambridge University Press, 2019), 159-74
  25. ‘Modernist Literary Communities in 1930s Calcutta: the politics of Parichay’, in Modernist Communities across Cultures and Media, ed Caroline Pollentier and Sarah Wilson (University Press of Florida, 2019), 177-96

Journal articles (last 5 years only)

  1. ‘Spenser in Bengal,’ Spenser Studies 38, Special Issue on Spenser in the World, 2024 (forthcoming)
  2. ‘Thinking through symbionts: Spenser with Donna Haraway,’ Spenser Studies 37, special issue on Companionable Thinking: Spenser with, 2023, pp. 73-94.
  3. The Archive as Detritus: Naeem Mohaiemen’s Jole Dobe Na’, Bioscope: South Asian Screen Studies, vol. 14, issue 1, June 2023.
  4.  ‘The Game’s the Thing: Politics and Play in Middleton’s A Game at Chess’Études Épistémè [En ligne], 39 | 2021 (July). 
    URL : http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/11534
    DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/episteme.11534
  5. ‘Which world, whose literature?’, Thesis 11, 162:1 (2021), 75-93. DOI: 10.1177/0725513621996493.
  6. ‘Thought-crimes: dissent, disaffection and intellectual labour in contemporary India.’ Postcolonial Studies, 24:1 (2021), 16-23.  DOI: 10.1080/13688790.2021.1882076
  7. ‘The Absence of a Hyphen: Borders, Crossings, Identities in The Shadow Lines’ in Crossing the Shadow Lines, ed. E. Adami, C. Concilio and A. Vescovi, QuadRi: Quaderni di RiCognizioni: Rivista di lingue e Letterature Straniere e Culture Moderne V. 11 (2020) (Università di Torino), 23-39, at  https://www.ojs.unito.it/index.php/QuadRi/issue/view/492 
  8. ‘Filamentary Relations: Virginia Woolf and India’, Literature Compass 17:10 (October 2020), pp. 1-15.  DOI:10.1111/lic3.12599
  9. ‘On Making Noise: Hokkolorob and its place in Indian Student Movements’, Postcolonial Studies 22:1 (2019), 44-58; DOI: 10.1080/13688790.2019.1568168
  10. Nishchindipur: The Impossibility of a Village Utopia.’ Open Library of Humanities, 5(1): 25 (2019), pp. 1–28. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16995/olh.395  
  11. ‘Reading Pasts, Thinking Presents: Reflections on the Nation, Representation, and Mourning’, in Revue des Femmes Philosophes No 4-5 (2018), 278-291