Rama Mantena

Associate Professor History


B.A. English, The University of Michigan, 1992
Ph.D., History, The University of Michigan, 2002
Carol G. Lederer Postdoctoral Fellow, Pembroke Center at Brown University (2004-2005)
Kluge Fellow, Library of Congress Kluge Center for Research (2005-2006) BA in 

Research Interests

Rama Mantena's research interests include colonial archives and the production of knowledge, historiography and the practices of history, and more recently public spheres, publicity and debates over civil society in Twentieth-century India. At UIC, she teaches survey and thematic courses on Modern India, on nationalism, colonialism, the British Empire, and women and gender in Indian history. Her first book The Origins of Modern Historiography in India (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) examines everyday practices surrounding acts of collecting, surveying, and antiquarianism in the early period of British colonial rule in India. By examining early imperial strategies of producing historical knowledge, the book traces the colonial conditions of the production of “sources,” the forging of a new historical method, and the ascendance of positivist historiography in nineteenth-century India. She has begun work on a new project entitled “Vernacular Publics and Political Modernity in Colonial South India, 1860-1956,” which explores the emergence of Telugu (a south Indian language spoken in present-day Andhra Pradesh) publics in the latter decades of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. The project is centered on rethinking the emergence of regional publics, cultures of democratic participation in defining and negotiating not only multifarious cultural identities, but also their relationship to the past, confronting societal inequities, challenging traditional orthodoxies—in effect tracking a new era of liberalism and the increased use of the language of political rights and representation in twentieth-century India. 

Selected Publications

“Vernacular Publics and Political Modernity: Language and Progress in Colonial South India.” Modern Asian Studies (Firstview, 8 February 2013).

“The Origins of Modern Historiography and Indian Intellectual History,” a special issue on the work of Professor Velcheru Narayana Rao in eemaata: a telugu webzine for a world without borders (January 2013).

Review of Lisa Mitchell, Language, Emotion, and Politics in South India: The Making of a Mother Tongue (2010) for Indian Economic and Social History Review 2012 49: 446.

The Origins of Modern Historiography in India: Antiquarianism and Philology, 1780-1880 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). For a review of the book, see The American Historical Review (2013)  118 (2): 501-502.

“Imperial Ideology and the Uses of Rome in Discourses on Britain’s Indian Empire.” In Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire, ed. Mark Bradley (Oxford University Press, 2010), 54-73.

“The Question of History in Pre-colonial India.” History and Theory 46 (2007): 396-408.

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Contact Information

Office: 929 UH, MC 198
Phone: 312-996-3165
Fax: 312-996-6377
Email: rmantena@uic.edu