After completing his education in Sydney and Canberra, Sanjay held positions at Sydney University and La Trobe University (Melbourne), as well as a Fellowship at Tokyo University. He moved to Goldsmiths in 2007, to take up the Chair in Politics.
Sanjay has published in the fields of modern Indian history, political and social theory, postcolonial theory and international relations. He is particularly interested in how modern European ideologies, and modern Western knowledge more generally, ‘travelled’ to the non-Western world- and what effects this had both on the non-Western world, and on modern, Western knowledge. His current work is focused on whether the presumptions that inform our modern knowledge are ‘universal’, meaning adequate to all times and places- as is usually supposed- or whether they are in fact parochial, presumptions that are specifically modern and Western but that illegitimately pass themselves off as universal. He often uses his Indian archive to raise and pursue these broad social, cultural and epistemological questions.
Sanjay has been invited to give keynote talks in the US, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Bulgaria, Brazil, Greece, India, Pakistan, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Taiwan. Some of his publications have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese and Slovenian
BA Honours (4 years) 1st Class (with University Medal), University of Sydney (Department of Government), 1983.
PhD, Australian National University (History of Ideas Unit), 1990.
Sanjay has held teaching or research positions at the University of Sydney and La Trobe University (Melbourne), before joining Goldsmiths in 2007 to take up the Chair in Politics, and the position of Director of the Centre for Postcolonial Studies. He has been JSPS Research Fellow at Tokyo University (2003), Visiting Professorial Research Fellow at Kyoto University (2013) and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney (2014 to present). He currently teaches an MA subject, ‘The Politics of Knowledge: Debates in the Human Sciences”, and teach ‘Liberalism and its Critics’, ‘Colonialism and non-Western Political Thought’, and (co-teach) ‘Politics of Other Cultures’ at undergraduate level.
Areas of supervision
Sanjay welcomes enquiries concerning supervision in the areas of social and political theory, Indian history and politics, non-Western thought and politics, Marxism and liberalism, postcolonial theory.
Marxist Theory and Nationalist Politics: The Case of Colonial India, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1995.
Subject Lessons: The Western Education of Colonial India, Duke University Press, 2007 (Indian edition with Oxford University Press, India, 2008) for the International Convention of Asian Scholars (ICAS) 2009 book prize in social sciences
Postcolonial Theory and International Relations: A Critical Introduction, London and NY: Routledge, 2013.
“Nationalism, Modernity and the ‘Woman Question’ in India and China”, Journal of Asian Studies, 72:2 (May 2013), pp. 273-97.
“Reason or Reasoning? Clio or Siva?”, Social Text, No. 78 (2004), pp. 85-101 [translated into Portuguese as “Razão ou Raciocínio? Clio ou Shiva?”, História da Historiografia, No. 11 (April 2013), pp. 173-90].
Professor Sanjay Seth has published in the fields of modern Indian history, political and social theory, postcolonial theory and international relations. He is particularly interested in how modern European ideologies, and modern Western knowledge more generally, ‘travelled’ to the non-Western world- and what effects this had both on the non-Western world, and on modern, Western knowledge. Relatedly, my recent and current work is focused on whether the presumptions that inform our modern knowledge are ‘universal’, meaning adequate to all times and places- as is usually supposed- or whether they are in fact parochial, presumptions that are specifically modern and Western but that illegitimately pass themselves off as universal. He usually uses his Indian archive to raise and pursue these broad social, cultural and epistemological questions.
Publications and research outputs
Seth, Sanjay. 2022. História e Pós-colonialismo. Ensaios sobre Conhecimento Ocidental, Eurocentrismo e Ciências Sociais. Lisbon: Imprensa de História Contemporânea. ISBN 9789898956385
Seth, Sanjay. 2020. Beyond Reason: Postcolonial Theory and the Social Sciences. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780197500583
Seth, Sanjay. 2007. Subject Lessons: The Western Education of Colonial India. Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822341055
Seth, Sanjay. 1995. Marxist Theory and Nationalist Politics: The Case of Colonial India. New Delhi: SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-0803992078
Seth, Sanjay, ed. 2012. Postcolonial Theory and International Relations: A Critical Introduction. London and NY: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415582889
Seth, Sanjay. 2015. "A Question of Moral Crisis: Western Discourse and its Indian Object". In: A. Beer and G. Mackenthun, eds. Fugitive Knowledge. Munster and New York: Waxman, pp. 105-122. ISBN 978-3-8309-3281-9
Seth, Sanjay. 2012. Postcolonialism and International Relations. In: Sanjay Seth, ed. Postcolonial Theory & International Relations: A Comprehensive Introduction. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-58288-9
Seth, Sanjay; Friedlander, Peter and Jeffrey, Robin. 2009. ’Subliminal Charge’: How Hindi-Language Newspaper Expansion Affects India. In: Arvind Rajagopal, ed. The Indian Public Sphere Readings in Media History. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, //-//. ISBN 019806103X
Seth, Sanjay. 2009. Rewriting Histories of Nationalism: The Politics of ‘Moderate Nationalism’ in Colonial India, 1870-1905. In: Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, ed. Nationalist Movement in India: A Reader. Oxford University Press, pp. 30-48. ISBN 9780195698817
Seth, Sanjay. 2023. Reconceiving the Practice of History: From Representation to Translation. History & Theory, 62(1), pp. 106-128. ISSN 0018-2656
Seth, Sanjay. 2022. Beyond belief: secularism, religion and our muddled modernity. Postcolonial Studies, ISSN 1368-8790
Seth, Sanjay. 2016. Sociologia Histórica e Teoria Pós-Colonial: duas estratégias para desafiar o eurocentrismo. Expedicoes: Teoria da Historia e Historiografia, 7(1), pp. 263-270. ISSN 2179-6386
Seth, Sanjay. 2014. The Politics of Knowledge: Or, How to Stop Being Eurocentric. History Compass, 12(4), pp. 311-320. ISSN 1478-0542
Seth, Sanjay. 2013. “Once Was Blind but Now Can See”: Modernity and the Social Sciences. International Political Sociology, 7(2), pp. 136-151. ISSN 1749-5679
Seth, Sanjay. 2013. Nationalism, Modernity, and the “Woman Question” in India and China. The Journal of Asian Studies, 72(2), pp. 273-297. ISSN 0021-9118
Seth, Sanjay. 2011. Travelling theory: Western knowledge and its Indian object. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 21(4), pp. 263-282. ISSN 0962-0214
Seth, Sanjay. 2011. Postcolonial Theory and the Critique of International Relations. Millennium, 40(1), pp. 167-183. ISSN 0305-8298
Seth, Sanjay. 2011. Crítica de la razón (moderna, Occidental) impura A critique of impure (modern, Western) reason. Tabula Rasa, 14, pp. 31-54. ISSN 1794-2489
Seth, Sanjay. 2009. Historical Sociology and Postcolonial Theory: Two Strategies for Challenging Eurocentrism. International Political Sociology, 3(3), pp. 334-338. ISSN 17495679
Seth, Sanjay. 2007. Changing the Subject: Western Knowledge and the Question of Difference. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 49(3), pp. 666-688. ISSN 00104175
Seth, Sanjay. 2001. Liberalism and the Politics of (Multi)Culture: or, Plurality is not Difference. Postcolonial Studies, 4(1), pp. 65-77. ISSN 13688790
Seth, Sanjay. 2001. A Critique of Disciplinary Reason: The Limits of Political Theory. Alternatives, 26(1), pp. 73-92. ISSN 0304-3754
Seth, Sanjay. 1999. Rewriting Histories of Nationalism: The Politics of ‘Moderate Nationalism’ in Colonial India, 1870-1905. American Historical Review, 104(1), pp. 95-116. ISSN 0002-8762
Seth, Sanjay. 1995. Interpreting Revolutionary Excess: The Naxalite Movement in India, 1967-71. Positions : East Asia Critique, 3(2), pp. 481-507. ISSN 1067-9847