Staff profile

Dr Oliver Godsmark

Lecturer in History




College of Arts, Humanities and Education



Research centre

Identity, Culture and Representation Research Centre


Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I am a Lecturer in global and South Asian history, with particular expertise in late colonial and early postcolonial India. My research focuses on citizenship, democracy, caste and tribe, and land, property and territory, principally in the context of India’s independence and partition.

I also continue to be interested in histories of the British South Asian diaspora. Before arriving at Derby in 2019, I held lectureships at the Universities of Sheffield, Exeter, Kent and Loughborough, as well as a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of York.

Teaching responsibilities

I currently teach on the following modules:

Research interests

My research traces the impact of decolonisation and the transition from colonial rule to independence on ideas about and the workings of democracy, citizenship and community amongst Indian society. My doctoral project drew upon the mechanics of state-society relations at the ‘everyday’ level to make inferences about the nature of citizenship and democracy during independence and partition, a moment of great historical change, fear and uncertainty on the Indian subcontinent. I recently published an updated monograph that draws upon and revises some of the central themes of this research. The project has also informed a number of other research publications.

My latest project employs a similar approach to consider the significance of ideas about property and territory in the context of the ‘land question’ among India’s Adivasis (‘tribals’) during the late colonial and early postcolonial period. In doing so, it considers the viability of more sustainable modes of land use and holistic conceptions of land right, interrogates dominant economic narratives about growth, productivity and development, and more generally brings together questions of territory and property as aspects of both polity and economy.

Membership of professional bodies


Recent conferences

In the media

I have been actively involved in communicating my research to public audiences. In August 2017, I took part in a series of events to commemorate 70 years since the independence of India, including acting as an analyst during a special discussion on individual stories of displacement experienced by ordinary people caught up in partition violence. This discussion was broadcast live on BBC Radio Sheffield as part of 'Eastern Air', a weekly radio programme dedicated to the city’s South Asian diaspora.

In October 2017, I appeared at Sheffield’s 'Off the Shelf' annual literature festival as an invited guest of the local Hindu Samaj, where I discussed Indian and Pakistani independence in the context of the life and writings of the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.

Recent publications

O. Godsmark, ‘“Civis Indianus Sum”? Ambedkar on Democracy and Territory during Linguistic Reorganisation (and Partition)’, Modern Asian Studies(forthcoming, November 2019)

O. Godsmark, ‘Searching for Synergies, Making Majorities: Partition and Linguistic Reorganisation in Comparative Perspective’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 42.1 (forthcoming, February 2019)

O. Godsmark, Citizenship, Community and Democracy in India: From Bombay to Maharashtra, c. 1930-1960 (London: Routledge, 2018)

O. Godsmark, 'Citizenship, Reservations and the Regional Alternative in the All-India Services, ca. 1928-1950'South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 38.2 (2015), 156-170

O. Godsmark and W. Gould, ‘Clientelism, Community and Collaboration: Loyalism in Nineteenth-Century India’, in Loyalism and the Formation of the British World, 1775-1914, ed. by A. Blackstock and F. O’Gorman (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2014)