Staff profile

Dr Oliver Godsmark

Lecturer in History

Oliver Godsmark in a classroom.




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 and democracy, caste and tribe, and borders, 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:

History BA

Public History and Heritage MA

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 focuses on a number of incidents of cattle theft that were reported in the princely state of Indore in the interwar period. It uses these incidents to analyse animals as property and emblems of citizenship, to explore the firming up of notions of sovereignty and territoriality, and to highlight the vilification of 'tribal' communities. It simultaneously reads the police administration reports on cattle theft as part of wider attempts to assert sovereignty and paramountcy over minor princely states in the region on the part of Indore. By tracing how these issues emerged, the project ultimately looks to re-centre princely India as a significant site in which ideas about citizenship and statehood developed prior to independence, beyond the prevailing focus on British India and partition within South Asian studies.

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