Dr. Devika Sethi

Dr. Devika Sethi
Phone: +91-01905-267270
EMail: devika[at]iitmandi[dot]ac[dot]in
Address: Assistant Professor, School of Humanities & Social Sciences
Associate Dean, International Relations
G1-102, Kamand campus, IIT Mandi
Kamand - 175005
Mandi District, Himachal Pradesh, India

Research Interests

  • Modern Indian History
  • Free Speech and Censorship
  • Decolonization Studies
  • Social History of Natural Disasters


  • Ph.D. in History – Centre for Historical Studies (CHS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi (2013)
  • M. Phil. Modern Indian History – CHS, JNU, New Delhi (2007)
  • M.A. Modern Indian History – CHS, JNU, New Delhi (2005)
  • B.A. History (Honours) – St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University (2003)

Work Experience

Academic Research Experience
  • 2005-7: M.Phil thesis research (libraries and archives in Delhi)
  • 2007-12: PhD dissertation research (libraries and archives in India, United Kingdom and Germany)
  • My M.Phil and PhD research was supported by Junior/Senior Research Fellowships awarded by the University Grants Commission (UGC), Government of India
Teaching Experience
  • May 2015 till Present: Assistant Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Mandi
  • July 2014 – May 2015: Assistant Professor (ad hoc appointment), Gargi College, Delhi University
  • January 2014 – May 2014: Assistant Professor (ad hoc appointment), Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University
  • July 2009 – August 2010: Assistant Professor (ad hoc appointment), St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University
Other Experience
  • IIT Mandi – Co-Editor, Kamand Valley Monographs (3 Vols., 2018)
    • Vol. 1: Ranjit Daniels, Ecological Management Plan for the IIT Mandi Campus at Kamand
    • Vol. 2: Priscilla Gonsalves, From Leopards to Lizards: A Brief Introduction to the Permanent Residents of Kamand
    • Vol. 3: Rinki Sarkar, Kamand Campus and its Surroundings
  • IIT Mandi – Coordinator, ISTP course (2017, 2018 and 2019)
    • The Interactive Socio-Technical Practicum is an elective course for 3rd year B.Tech students in which they form teams with visiting students from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA, so that they can research and find technical solutions to the problems of society, with a special emphasis on the Himalayan region. As Coordinator I manage the academic and administrative components of this course. I also teach a 1-credit research methods and presentation module to IIT Mandi students. I organize a workshop for students with an external resource person, and organize mid-term presentations, the Open House, and the printing of the project reports in booklet form.
  • IIT Mandi – Member/ Chair of the following committees:
    • Chair, IIT Mandi Media Cell (since June 2018)
    • Representative, SHSS, in the Senate of IIT Mandi (as reconstituted in December 2016)
    • Coordinator, Human Values Module (5-Week Induction Programme-2016)
    • Coordinator, Soft Skills Module (5WIP-2017 and 2018)
    • Secretary/Chair Book Nook Committee (2016/2017-18)
  • Assisted with the preparation of NCERT History text book for Class XI, prescribed for CBSE schools all over India; worked specifically on all maps to be included in the book (2008)
  • Served as editorial assistant with Studies in History, an academic journal published by the Centre for Historical Studies at JNU, New Delhi; assisted the editors, Dr Neeladri Bhattacharya and Dr Kumkum Roy (for a period of two years, 2006-08)


  • IIT Mandi
    • India in the 1950s: Biography of a Foundational Decade
    • Popular Culture in Modern India: A Historical Perspective
    • Human Geography
    • Modern China
  • St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University
    • B.A. (Hons.) History: History of Modern China and Japan
    • B.A. Programme : Issues in World History – Twentieth Century World
    • B.A. Programme : Indian Art (Survey Course taught to foreign exchange students from USA and France)
  • Lady Shri Ram College for Women (LSR), Delhi University
    • B.A. (Hons.) History: History of Modern India, 1857-1950
    • B.A. (Hons.) English, Hindi, Sanskrit and Sociology: Cultural History of Modern India
  • Gargi College, Delhi University
    • B.A. (Hons.) History: Modern East Asian History
    • B.A. (Hons.) History: History of Medieval India
    • B.A. (Programme): Indian Art (Survey Course)

Awards and Honors

  • 2017: IIT Mandi Foundation Day Award for ‘Significant contribution to planning and execution of the 5WIP and also the Human Values Module in the programme’
  • 2016: IIT Mandi Foundation Day Award for ‘Achieving High Quality Teaching as a New Teacher’
  • 2003: St. Stephen’s College: PN Bhalla Memorial Prize
  • 2003: St. Stephen’s College: Sanwa Bank Scholarship


  • July-August 2013: Grant to participate in the month-long 8th Annual Decolonization Seminar organized by the United States Library of Congress and National History Centre of the American Historical Association, Washington, D.C., USA
  • June 2005 – 2009: Junior/Senior Research Fellowships (NET-JRF) by the University Grants Commission, Government of India
  • March-August 2011: Awarded 6 month long research grant by DAAD (Germany) under the Passage to India programme to undertake research at the Center for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), Georg August University, Goettingen, Germany
  • May-June 2010: Awarded Charles Wallace Research Grant for research at the British Library, London
  • June 2008: Awarded grant to represented JNU at the International Summer School on Cultural Diversity, held at the University of Bologna, Italy
  • October 2002: Awarded Teaching Assistantship at Keio SFC University, Tokyo, Japan

Workshops Conducted/Organized

  • Workshop on 'Village Studies in India: Historical Overview and Methodological Issues' by Dr. Rinki Sarkar (March 2017, 2018 and 2019) – organized in capacity as Coordinator, ISTP course, IIT Mandi
  • TLC Workshop for Teaching Assistants, IIT Mandi (13 February 2017) – organized and conducted
  • TLC Workshop for Teaching Assistants, IIT Mandi (06 May 2017) – organized and conducted
  • 'Faculty Orientation Workshop on the Induction Program and Universal Human Values' (03-05 June 2016) conducted by Prof. Rajeev Sangal, Director, IIT BHU – organized
  • Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) Workshop for Teaching Assistants, IIT Mandi (16 December 2016) – organized and conducted


      War over Words: Censorship in India, 1930-60 (Cambridge University Press, 2019)
      BookAuthority Best New Censorship Books

Other Publications

Journal Articles
  • ‘‘The Ban Formula: Non-Indian Authors and the Colonial State in the 1920s-30s’, Indian Historical Review, 45(1), June 2018, pp. 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1177/0376983618768934
  • Alarmist Stories and Defeatist Views: Censorship and Morale in India during the Second World War’, War in History, 26 (2), April 2019, pp. 250-264. ` https://doi.org/10.1177/0968344517702182
  • ‘In the Light, and in the Shadows: Censored Writers in Independent India’, Summerhill, 22(2), Winter 2016. Journal of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla.
  • ‘Chronicles of India: Jabez T. Sunderland’s India in Bondage’, Indian Horizons, 62(4), October-December 2015. Journal of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi.
  • ‘Press Censorship in India in the 1950s’, Perspectives in Indian Development, New Series 49, March 2015. Occasional Paper, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi. Referenced in the Wikipedia article on ‘Censorship in India’.
  • Book Reviews
  • ‘Conquering Commodity: Tea in Britain’, (Review of Empire of Tea: The Asian Leaf that Conquered the World, by Markman Ellis, Richard Coulton and Matthew Mauger, 2016), The Book Review, XL(12), December 2016.
  • ‘The Lived Experience of Technology’ (Review of Ritika Prasad, Tracks of Change: Railways and Everyday Life in Colonial India, Cambridge University Press, 2015), The Book Review, XL(5), May 2016.
  • 'Material, Spiritual, Divine Ganga' (Review of Assa Doron, Richard Barz and Barbara Nelson (eds), An Anthology of Writings on the Ganga: Goddess and River in History, Culture, and Society, Oxford University Press, 2014), The Book Review, XXXIX(10), October 2015.
  • ‘Origins of the Present, Legacies of the Past’ (Review of Ishita Banerjee Dube’s, A History of Modern India, Cambridge University Press, 2014), in The Book Review, XXXIX(4), April 2015.
  • ‘Education: Social Engineering or Social Process?’ (Review of Krishna Kumar’s Politics of Education in Colonial India, Routledge, 2014), The Book Review, XXXVIII(9), September 2014.
  • ‘Communicating History’ (Review of Judith Brown’s Windows into the Past: Life Histories and the Historian of South Asia, Oxford University Press, 2009), The Book Review, XXXVI(3), March 2012.
  • ‘Voice of Archival Absence’ (Review of Anjali’s Arondekar’s For the Record: On Sexuality and the Colonial Archive in India, Orient BlackSwan, 2009), The Book Review, XXXV(5), May 2011.
  • ‘Stocktaking the Nation’s Achievements - A Non-Partisan Enterprise’ (Review of Mukesh Williams and Rohit Wanchoo, Representing India: Cultures, Politics, and Identities, Oxford University Press, 2008) Muse India, 18, March-April 2008. Online.
  • Media
    ‘Making Holidays Count’, The Times of India editorial page, 9 November 2007.
  • ‘A Concert to Remember’, The Times of India editorial page, 22 July 2001.

Invited Talks

  • Lecture series titled 'Transition of the Royal Indian Marine to Indian Navy: Milestones and Achievements’ to cadets and officers of the Indian Naval Academy (INA), Ezhimala, Kerela, in April and October 2018, and April and October 2019 (via National Knowledge Network NKN Virtual Classroom)
  • The 'Floodgates of Mass Agitation': A History of the 'Living Biographies' Controversy (1956)’ at the CEIAS (Centre d'Études de l'Inde et de l'Asie du Sud/ Center for South Asian Studies), Paris, France, 31 May 2018
  • ‘Wars over Words: Press Censorship in India in the 1950s’ at the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, Japan, 28 September 2016
  • ‘The Ban Formula: Non-Indian Authors and the Colonial State in the 1920s-30s’, delivered at the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), New Delhi, 25 June 2015
  • ‘An Education in Realism: Press Censorship in India in the 1950s’ at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, 02 May 2014


National Conferences
  • Paper titled ‘A Measure of “Repression” or “Protection”?: The Making of the Press Act of 1931’ presented at the Indian History Congress, New Delhi, 28-30 December 2014
  • Paper titled ‘Between the Lines, Beyond the Margins: Confounding Colonial Censorship in Twentieth Century India’ at Exploring the Margins conference, School of Social Sciences, JNU, in September 2009
  • Paper titled ‘Censorship in India in the 1950s’ at the Law and Social Sciences Network (Lassnet) Conference in JNU in January 2009
  • Paper titled ‘The Censored Turn Censor’ at a conference organized by the History Association, JNU, titled ‘Interrogating Transitions’ in March 2008
International Conferences
  • ‘Monument to Transition: A Colonial and Post-Colonial History of India Gate’, at the Historical Monuments and Modern Society Conference, Shanghai University, China, December 2018
  • ‘Fact of Fiction: Biographies of Prophet Muhammad in Colonial India’ at the Ways of Knowing Conference, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA, October 2018
  • ‘Hate Speech or Free Speech?: The Public Sphere and Muslim Identities in Britain and India in the 1920s-1940s’, at the Words that Kill Conference, George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention, American University of Paris, France, May 2018
  • ‘Alarmist Stories and Defeatist Views: Censorship and Morale in India during the Second World War’, at the 29th Annual Conference of the Japanese Association for South Asian Studies (JASAS), Kobe, Japan, September 2016
  • ‘Civilian Morale in India during the Second World War’ at the 8th Annual Decolonization Seminar, organized by the American Historical Association and the Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA, August 2013
  • ‘Early Post Colonial Press Censorship in India’ at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), Georg August University, Goettingen, Germany, May 2011
  • ‘Women’s Employment in the Indian State’ at the Young South Asia Scholars Meet (Y-SASM), Berlin, Germany, May 2011