Sunil Amrith

Sunil Amrith's picture
Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History; Associate DGS, History
HQ 264
Office Hours: 

Tuesdays 1:30-2:30pm and Wednesdays 2-3pm. Sign up here:…
ADGS office hours: by appointment.

Fields of interest: 

Modern South Asian, Southeast Asian and Indian Ocean history; the history of migration and diasporas; environmental history, especially the history of water and climate; the history of port cities

Sunil Amrith is the Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History at Yale University, with a secondary appointment as Professor at the Yale School of the Environment. He is also the current Chair of the Council on South Asian Studies at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies.
Amrith’s research focuses on the movements of people and the ecological processes that have connected South and Southeast Asia, and has expanded to encompass global environmental history. He has published in the fields of environmental history, the history of migration, and the history of public health. Amrith is the recipient of the 2022 Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for History, a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, and the 2016 Infosys Prize in Humanities. His work on environmental justice received a “scientific breakthrough of the year” award from the Falling Walls Foundation in 2022.
Amrith’s new book, to appear in 2024, is The Burning Earth, an environmental history of the modern world that foregrounds the experiences of the Global South. It will be published by W.W. Norton in North America and by Allen Lane in the UK and South Asia, as well as in Chinese, Korean, Italian, Dutch, German, and French translations.
Amrith’s four previous books include Unruly Waters (Basic Books and Penguin UK)—shortlisted for the 2019 Cundill Prize, and reviewed in NatureThe EconomistThe Wall Street Journal and The New York Review of Books—and Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Harvard University Press, 2013), which was awarded the American Historical Association’s John F. Richards Prize in 2014, and selected as an Editor’s Choice title by the New York Times Book Review. Amrith serves on the editorial board of Modern Asian Studies and the advisory board of Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics, and he is one of the series editors of the Princeton University Press book series, Histories of Economic Life.
In current work, Amrith continues to study the relationship between migration and environmental justice. He has also begun work on the comparative history of environmentalism in India and Indonesia, and on a long-term research project on rice and planetary health. Looking ahead, Professor Amrith will deliver the Radhakrishnan Lectures at All Souls College, Oxford in 2025, and the Wiles Lectures at Queen’s University Belfast in 2026.
Professor Amrith welcomes inquiries from prospective graduate students interested in working on any aspect of modern South and Southeast Asian history, as well as on topics in global environmental history.
Before coming to Yale, Amrith was the inaugural Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies at Harvard University from 2015-20, where he also served as co-director of the Joint Center for History and Economics, and Interim Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center (in 2019-20). From 2006-2015, he taught at Birkbeck College at the University of London. Sunil Amrith grew up in Singapore, and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Cambridge.
Indian Ocean
South Asia
Southeast Asia
Empires & Colonialism
Science, Technology, Medicine