• Archisman Chaudhuri
  • Archisman Chaudhuri
  • Hallgring Visiting Professor
  • Degree: Ph.D., Leiden University, The Netherlands
  • Specialty: early modern Indian Ocean
  • Office: 101A Van Dyck Hall


I am an historian of early modern Indian Ocean. I earned my B.A. (Presidency College, Kolkata, 2010) and M.A. (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 2012) degrees in History in India. In 2012 I moved to The Netherlands to study at the Leiden University, where I completed my PhD in 2019. In Leiden, I was trained in the Dutch language to tap into the archives of the Dutch East India Company (the VOC) and research histories of the Indian Ocean. My doctoral thesis, ‘’From Camp to Port: Mughal Warfare and the Economy of Coromandel, 1682-1710,’’ researched the relationship between warfare and economy in South Asia: the impact of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s (r.1657-1707) southern military campaigns (1682-1707) on the economy of Coromandel Coast, a major industrial hub of early modern Indian Ocean that specialized in producing textiles which were a crucial component in the VOC’s intra-Asian trade.

I worked as a postdoctoral researcher (2019-2021) at McGill University’s Indian Ocean World Centre, a research institute that studies human-environment relationships in the Indian Ocean world – from East Africa to East Asia – from the antiquity to the contemporary world. My postdoctoral research at McGill focused on a comparative study of coeval climatic anomalies in the Indian Ocean during the Little Ice Age: the impact of El Nino-induced droughts and famines in South Asia and island South-East Asia in the seventeenth century and eighteenth century. One of my recent publications, ‘’ The El Nino of 1685–1687 in Golconda and Northern Coromandel, South Asia: Drought, Famine, and Mughal Wars,’’ in Philip Gooding ed. Droughts, Floods, and Global Climatic Anomalies in the Indian Ocean World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) synthesizes the perspectives of my doctoral and postdoctoral research on the early modern Indian Ocean, particularly the connections between warfare, economy, and environmental crises and trade in enslaved labour from South Asia to island South-East Asia.

At Rutgers University, I plan to further research the effects of climatic anomalies in South Asia, island South-East Asia, and the Cape Colony in southern Africa in the seventeenth and eighteenth century – using the VOC archives and drawing upon Richard Grove’s methodology of coeval climatic anomalies in the Indian Ocean. I will study the impact of El Nino-and-Indian Ocean Dipole-induced droughts and famines in the aforementioned regions, as well as the connections that developed between these regions in the aftermath of climatic anomalies through movement of enslaved labour and outbreak of epidemic diseases, especially smallpox. In terms of relevance to global history, my research will bring into sharp contrast the impact of climatic anomalies on human-environment relationship in the Indian Ocean. My research interests include economic history, early modern empires, environmental history, global history, and the Indian Ocean. As of now, my archival languages of research are Dutch and English. But I do plan to add more languages to my repertoire.

Along with Adam Clulow, Georgia O’ Connor, and Guido van Meersbergen, I co-edit the Hakluyt Society’s international collaborative book project, The Norris Embassy to Mughal India, 1699-1702, which will publish a scholarly edition of the diaries of William Norris, the English ambassador to the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (2023/24). I am also a managing editor on the Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies, a journal that publishes research on human-environment relationships in the Indian Ocean, published by McGill University.

Select publications

  • 2022 ‘’ The El Nino of 1685-1687 in Golconda and northern Coromandel, South Asia: Drought, famine, and Mughal wars’’ in: Droughts, Floods, and Global Climatic Anomalies in the Indian Ocean World ed. Philip Gooding (Palgrave Macmillan: Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies): 97-125.
  • 2016 ‘’Trade in the Shaping of Early Modern India: Notes on the Deccan’’ in: Indian Ocean in the Making of Early Modern India ed. Pius Malekandathil (New Delhi: Manohar, 2016): 75- 109.