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Satya Shikha Chakraborty

woman leaning under architectural arch

Satya Shikha Chakraborty

Assistant Professor of History
South Asian History, British Empire, Gender and Sexuality, Histories of Colonialism, Domestic Labor, Medicine, and Visual Culture
Phone Number:
Office: Social Sciences 210


Satya Shikha Chakraborty (previously, Satyasikha Chakraborty) is a historian of South Asia and the British Empire. She joined TCNJ with a PhD from Rutgers University – New Brunswick in 2019. Before moving to New Jersey, she lived in India, where she studied history at Jadavpur University in Kolkata.

Satya Shikha is working on a book project on the colonial history of Indian ayahs, maidservants who worked for British imperial families from the late-eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. She is also interested in the history of European governesses and nannies who worked in colonial Indian princely households. Satya Shikha collects old picture-postcards and tradecards of the ‘Indian ayah’, the ‘African American mammy’, the ‘Irish Bridget’ and other stereotypes of racialized caregivers to re-think inter-racial care-giving through visual culture in a trans-imperial and global framework. She curated a digital history exhibition with her students at the TCNJ art gallery, titled “Visual Culture of Domestic Labor: Trade Cards and Postcards from the 1870s to 1930s”. 

At TCNJ, she teaches courses such as “Modern South Asia: Mughals to Modi”, “Beyond Ars Erotica: Gender and Sexuality in South Asian History”, “Imperialism and Colonialism”, “World History from the Margins” and “Science, Medicine and Empire”. She also teaches the “Capstone Research Seminar” and supervises student research on world history topics. She is excited to offer new courses in the coming years on “South Asia through Cinema”, “British Empire”, “Indian Ocean World” and “Global History of Caste and Race”.  

Peer-reviewed publications:

  • “Queer Labors: Female Intimacy, Homoeroticism, and Cross-Dressing in Mughal Courtly Paintings”, Visual Culture and Gender, Vol. 17, September 2022.
  • “‘Nurses of Our Ocean Highways’: The Precarious Metropolitan Lives of Colonial South Asian Ayahs”, Journal of Women’s History, 32, No.2, Summer 2020. This article received an Honorable Mention from the North American Conference on British Studies Walkowitz Prize Committee in 2021. 
  • “From Bibis to Ayahs: Sexual Labour, Domestic Labour, and the Moral Politics of Empire”, in Nitin Sinha and Nitin Varma (eds.) Servants’ Pasts: Eighteenth to Twentieth Century South Asia, New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2019
  • “Mammies, Ayahs, Baboes: Postcards of Racialized Nursemaids from the Early Twentieth Century”, Visual Culture and Gender, Vol.13, September 2018.
  • “European nurses and governesses in Indian Princely households: ‘Uplifting that impenetrable veil?’” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, Volume 19, No. 1, Spring 2018. This article was awarded the 2019 Berkshire Conference Article Prize for the best history article of the year in the field of women, gender and/or sexuality.

Scholarly essays:

  • “Technologies of Domestic Labour”, Servants Pasts: European Research Council Project, 2015-18, blog-essay published on October 16, 2017
  • “Visualizing the Firingee, the Saheb and the Memsaheb on Bengal Temple Terracotta: The Articulation of a ‘Native Gaze’”, Chitrolekha International Magazine on Art and Design, II, No.1, 2012, Special Issue on the Temples of Bengal.