Aparna Kapadia

Photo of Aparna Kapadia

Associate Professor of History and Chair of Asian Studies Program

Hollander Hall Rm 253
At Williams since 2013

Spring 2024 Class Hours

Mon / Thu – 1:10 pm to 2:25 pm
Tue / Fri – 2:35 pm to 3:50 pm

Spring 2024 Office Hours

Mon / Thu – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
And By Appointment


B.A. St. Xavier's College, Mumbai University
M.A. Jawaharlal Nehru University
M.Phil. Jawaharlal Nehru University, History
Ph.D. University of London, History


HIST 220 / ASIA 222 LEC

History and Society in India and South Asia: c. 2000 to 1700s CE (not offered 2024/25)

HIST 314 / ARTH 314 / ASIA 314 SEM

Emperors of Heaven and Earth: Mughal Power and Art in India, 1525-1707 (not offered 2024/25)

HIST 391 / ASIA 391 / CAOS 391 SEM

When India was the World: Trade, Travel and History in the Indian Ocean (not offered 2024/25)

HIST 496 / LEAD 322 / ASIA 412 / GBST 412 / REL 412 TUT

Gandhi: History, Ideas and Legacy (not offered 2024/25)

Current Committees

  • Global Studies


Aparna Kapadia (Ph. D., SOAS, University of London, 2010) is a social historian of early modern and modern South Asia. Her research particularly focuses on western Indian regional cultures, identities, and power structures as well as the subcontinent’s links with the Indian Ocean networks.

Her most recent book, In Praise of Kings: Rajputs, Sultans and Poets in Fifteenth-Century Gujarat (Cambridge University Press, 2018), shifts the conventional focus on the Delhi-centered empires and investigates the fascinating world of Gujarat’s royal courts, including those of the Rajput chieftains and the regional sultans, through close readings of rarely used literary works in Sanskrit and Gujarati. Kapadia is also the co-editor of The Idea of Gujarat: History, Ethnography and Text (Orient Blackswan, 2010). She is currently working on a new book on the history of women’s leadership and political activism during India’s anticolonial freedom movement through the life and work of the Indian political activist, Kasturba Gandhi (1869-1944).

Kapadia also serves as Associate Editor on The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (JRAS)’s Editorial Board and writes a column on history called Off Centre for Scroll.in.

Selected Publications

Kapadia, Aparna. “Imagining Region in Late Colonial India: Jhaverchand Meghani and the Construction of Saurashtra (1921–47).” The Journal of Asian Studies, 2022, 81.3:541–560.

Kapadia, Aparna, In Praise of Kings: Rajputs, Sultans and Poets in Fifteenth-Century Gujarat. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Kapadia, Aparna, ‘Universal Poet, Local Kings: Sanskrit, the Rhetoric of Kingship and Local Kingdoms in Gujarat’ in Francesca Orsini and Samira Sheikh (eds), After Timur Left: Multiple Spaces of Cultural Production and Circulation in Fifteenth-century North India, OUP, New Delhi, 2014.

Kapadia, Aparna, ‘The Last Cakravartin?: The Gujarat Sultan as ‘Universal King’ in Fifteenth Century Sanskrit Poetry’, Medieval History Journal, vol. 16, no. 1 (April 2013):63-88.

Kapadia, Aparna, ‘Alexander Forbes and the Making of a Regional History,’ in Edward Simpson and Aparna Kapadia (eds), The Idea of Gujarat: History, Ethnography and Text, New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2010.

Simpson, Edward and Aparna Kapadia (eds), The Idea of Gujarat: History, Ethnography and Text, New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2010.

Kapadia, Aparna, ‘What Makes the Head Turn: The Narratives of Kānhaḍade and the Dynamics of Legitimacy in Western India’, SAGAR, vol. 18, Spring 2008, pp. 87-100.

Research Interests

South Asian history, literary and popular culture, biography, Indian Ocean history, history of food and culinary practices.

Theses Advised

Benjamin Platt ’23
Stable Foundations: The Early History of the Housing and Development Boards and the Construction of Modern Singapore (1960-1971)

Benjamin Nathan ’15The Administrative Strategy of Thomas Stamford Raffles in Java 1811-1816