Rochona Majumdar

Rochona Majumdar
Associate Professor
Foster Hall 215
Office Hours: Wednesdays 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM & By Appointment
Ph.D., University of Chicago

Professor Majumdar will be on leave during Winter 2020.


Rochona Majumdar is a historian of modern India with a focus on Bengal. Her writings span histories of gender and sexuality, Indian cinema especially art cinema and film music, and modern Indian intellectual history.  Majumdar also writes on postcolonial history and theory.  

Majumdar started out as a historian of gender and arranged marriage in colonial and postcolonial Bengal that resulted in her book Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal. Her interest in postcoloniality as an intellectual standpoint led to her second work, Writing Postcolonial History, where she analyzed the impact of postcolonial theory on a variety of historical fields. Her interests in the culture and aesthetics of mass democracy led Majumdar to study cinema, in particular Indian cinema. Currently, she is finishing a monograph entitled Art Cinema in India: Aesthetic and Political Histories and The Indian New Cinemas Reader: Texts, Debates, Histories (Co-edited) with Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Moinak Biswas.  

For several years now Majumdar has been interested in the question of whether certain key concepts can be translated across cultures.  She has published a few essays on concepts such as “samaj” (society) and “sabhyata” (civility/ civilization). This is a long-term project that will map the emergence of these and other concepts over the long nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in order to write a global history of Indian social thought. 

Majumdar’s work has been supported by the American Institute for Indian Studies and the Harry Frank Guggenheim foundation. She has been a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Emotions, Berlin and IWM, Vienna.  

Majumdar also writes for the Indian Express, Outlook and Anandabazar Patrika (in Bengali).

Work with Students

Majumdar advises graduate students working on the histories, cultures, literatures, and film of South Asia in colonial and postcolonial times. She advises a range of BA honors and Masters theses on similar themes. She serves on dissertation committees in the departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, Cinema and Media Studies, and History. 


Majumdar, Rochona. “Art Cinema: The Indian Career of a Global Category”, Critical Inquiry, Vol. 42, no. 3, Spring 2016, pp. 580-610. 

Majumdar, Rochona. “Debating Radical Cinema: A History of the Film Society Movement in India”, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 46, part 2 (May 2012), pp. 731-67. 

Majumdar, Rochona. Writing Postcolonial History. London: Bloomsbury Academic Publishing, 2010. 

Majumdar, Rochona. Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009. 

Jordheim Helge, Pernau Margrit, Majumdar Rochona, et al., eds.  Civilizing Emotions: Concepts in Asia and Europe, 1870-1920. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2015. 

Chakrabarty Dipesh, Majumdar Rochona, Sartori Andrew, eds.  From the Colonial to the Postcolonial: India and Pakistan in Transition.  New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007. 

Affiliated Departments and Centers

  • Department of History
  • The Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality
  • Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory
  • Stevanovich Institute for the Formation of Knowledge
  • Committee on Southern Asian Studies
  • Nicholson center for British Studies 


  • Screening India: Bollywood and Beyond
  • South Asia as a Unit of Study
  • Radical Cinema in India
  • Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations
  • Liberalism and Feminism in India
  • Film and the Moving Image

Related Links

Subject Area: Bengali