Papiya Ghosh Memorial Fund

Professor Papiya Ghosh (1953–2006) was a renowned historian, an inspiring teacher, and an intellectual of remarkable originality and integrity. She was Professor of History at the University of Patna and had held prestigious Fellowships at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, North Carolina State University and the University of Chicago. Papiya Ghosh’s book Partition and the South Asian Diaspora: Extending the Subcontinent (Routledge, 2007), as well as her research papers on the formation of a Bihari Muslim identity in colonial politics, the civil disobedience movement, issues of communalism, and the South Asian diaspora have all received widespread scholarly acclaim, both in South Asia and internationally. Papiya was also an extraordinarily generous and affectionate friend who won a special place in the hearts of a vast number of former students and colleagues. Most people who came into contact with her carry with them fond memories of Papiya’s indefatigable zest for life and her infectious cheerfulness.

Papiya Ghosh’s richly productive life came to a brutal and tragic end when she was murdered at her home in Patna on the night of 3 December 2006, leaving not only her family and friends but also the scholarly community in India and abroad in a state of shock and intense bereavement. It is with the aim of honouring her cherished memory that the CSSSC-PAPIYA GHOSH MEMORIAL FUND has been set up at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. Established in 1973 and funded by the Government of India and the Government of West Bengal State, CSSSC is one of the foremost institutions of social science research in India. It has been specially known for its distinct tradition of encouraging a historical perspective on research in the different social science disciplines. With a faculty that includes renowned scholars in various disciplines in the social sciences and an impressive record of research and teaching in interdisciplinary research, we believe that CSSSC will provide an appropriate institutional locus for hosting the fund and its activities. CSSSC is fully committed to administering the fund and realizing its objectives.

The Papiya Ghosh Memorial Fund will be managed by an Advisory Council comprising representatives of the donors as well as of the faculty of CSSSC. The Advisory Council will have full control over planning the activities of the Fund, deciding on appropriate awards, and maintaining the high standards of academic excellence envisaged by its founders and donors. At present the Advisory Board consists of: Dr. Partha Chatterjee (CSSSC and Columbia University), Dr. Tuktuk Kumar (Papiya Ghosh’s sister and Principal Secretary to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament), Dr. Indrani Chatterjee (Rutgers University), Dr. Tapati Guha-Thakurta (Dean, Academic Affairs, CSSSC) Dr. Anjan Ghosh (CSSSC) and Dr. Udaya Kumar (CSSSC).

Papiya Ghosh was an excellent example of a scholarly life of the highest standards lived from a non-metropolitan location in India. Drawing inspiration from this, the Papiya Ghosh Memorial Fund will aim to support research in the social sciences undertaken by women students who live away from the big cities in India. The fund will award short term research fellowships which will enable travel to metropolitan centres for periods up to six months in order to consult archives, libraries and other scholarly resources. A longer term aim of the fund is to support international research travel as well.

We write to seek your active support in our efforts to pay homage to Papiya Ghosh’s memory. We hope that the FUND’s activities will help in enlarging the scholarly opportunities available to bright young researchers from disadvantaged locations in India, and that this would form an appropriate tribute to Papiya Ghosh’s life and ideals. Contributions to the fund may be made by cheque or demand draft in favour of “CSSSC – Papiya Ghosh Memorial Fund”, and may be sent to:

The Registrar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta,
R–1, Baishnabghata Patuli Township, Kolkata 700 094, India.

May we request you to send us your names and addresses along with your contributions so that appropriate receipts can be sent to you. Donations to the fund are exempted from taxation in India under the Income Tax Act.

Donors resident in the United States can also claim exemptions for their contributions if they send their cheques to ASTI (American Service to India), PO Box 2456, Costa Mesa, CA 92628-2456. Please identify the cheque as “PAPIYA GHOSH MEMORIAL FUND,CSSSC”.

Please also visit “Honouring Papiya” (, the website dedicated to Papiya Ghosh’s memory.

CSSSC–Papiya Ghosh Memorial Fund: Status Report (15 July 2009)

For close to a year now, the CSSSC–Papiya Ghosh Memorial Fund’s programme is supported by the Tata Social Welfare Trust. The grants from the Trust will run for a period of two years from September 2008 to August 2010. Meanwhile, donations received from generous individuals have been kept in a separate account and left to grow.

At present, as part of the existing Tata–funded programme, we are offering one two–year Ph.D fellowship and altogether four short–term fellowships/grants to women researchers coming from non–privileged backgrounds. We will also be holding two annual workshops–cum–seminars around a broad theme relating to Papiya Ghosh’s field of work and also incorporating the areas in which the fellowship–holders are doing their research.

Nisha P.R has been awarded the two–year Ph.D Fellowship for the period 2008–2010 and has commenced work from September 1, 2008. She is a research scholar in the Department of History, University of Delhi, working under the supervision of Dr. Dilip Menon. Nisha is doing her research on ‘A History of the Circus and Circus Performances in Twentieth Century Kerala’. We have also assigned Prof. Janaki Nair from among the CSSSC faculty as Nisha’s advisor and she is in touch with Prof. Nair regarding the progress of her research.

Epsita Halder and Bitasta Das were awarded the short–term fellowships for a period of six months each for the year 2008–2009. Epsita is a lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, Kolkata and her fellowship project is on ‘Understanding Lived Islam Through the Marsiya Tradition’. Dr Raziuddin Aquil and Prof Sibaji Bandyopadhyay were her advisors during the course of the project. Bitasta Das is enrolled in the Ph.D programme of the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS), Bangalore, and is working on ‘Unravelling Ethnic Tensions: Colonialism, Postcolonialism and the Identity Question in Assam’. Dr. Bodhisattva Kar was assigned as her advisor by CSSSC.

The annual workshop was held at CSSSC on 25–26 June 2009. The theme of this year’s workshop was ‘Minority Cultures’. Of the ten paper–presenters, three were the existing Papiya Ghosh fellowship–holders. All the papers were commented upon by Discussants, comprising CSSSC faculty and scholars from other institutions in Kolkata. Besides, Prof. Partha Chatterjee gave an inaugural address on the theme of ‘Minority Cultures’.

The announcement for the two short–term fellowships for the year 2009–2010 was published in The Economic and Political Weekly, April 11–17, 2009 issue. The selection committee will meet in the latter half of July 2009 to screen the application and nominate two candidates. The two fellowships will run from September 2009 to February 2010.

The next year’s workshop will be held over two days in June 2010.

For queries and suggestions, please contact Ranjana Dasgupta ( or any member of the Advisory Committee (Raziuddin Aquil, Indrani Chatterjee, Partha Chatterjee, Anjan Ghosh, Tuktuk Ghosh–Kumar, Tapati Guha–Thakurta, and Udaya Kumar).