John E. McLeod



I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on the history of India, Britain, and the British Empire. Since coming to U of L in 1995, I have led three study abroad courses: in Britain in 1998, and in India in 2002 and 2007.


My research and publications focus on the history of India. I have published a general survey of the topic (The History of India, second edition published by Greenwood Press in 2015), but most of my scholarly work has explored two themes. The first is the history of the so-called Princely States of India, which were semi-autonomous kingdoms that existed within India until 1948-1949. My doctoral dissertation was a study of the interaction of the Indian Princes, nationalist politicians, and the British during the last years of colonial rule in India; it was later published under the title of Sovereignty, Power, Control. In journal articles, I have written on such aspects of Princely State history as marriage patterns among royal families, relations between Indian monarchs and their nobles, the collection of import taxes by the governments of Princely States (that was an exciting one!), and the reasons that the government of India decided to end the sovereignty of the Indian Princes in the late 1940s.

The second theme of my scholarship is an examination of the experiences of minority groups within the Indian population: African-Indians, Jewish-Indians, and Zoroastrian-Indians. In African Elites in India, Kenneth X. Robbins and I published the most complete survey yet of the experiences of Africans (many of them ex-slaves) who rose to positions of power as soldiers, nobles, and kings in India between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries. Several of my published articles have also dealt with Africans in India, and Dr. Robbins and I have written a chapter on depictions of Africans in Indian art for The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and David Bindman (to be published by Harvard University Press in 2015). The collection Western Jews in India From the Fifteenth Century to the Present (includes my work on Maurice Frydman, a Jewish engineer who became a Hindu holy man, and future volumes of the same series will include studies of analogous themes. Finally, my current research project is a biography of the Parsi (Zoroastrian-Indian) statesman Sir Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree. It emphasizes the role that Bhownaggree’s Parsi background played in his career.

Deservedly or not, my scholarship has received a number of marks of honor. I am especially pleased by two of them. In 2001, my work on the Princely states of India was recognized when I received the title of Honorary Rajvanshi Genealogist of the Rajvara Heritage Institution of Rajkumar College on Rajkot, India.  This is an updated version of a traditional Indian title:  in olden days, each Indian monarch had an official genealogist whose duty was to record the history of the rajvansh, or royal family. In 2012, the government of Canada (my homeland) conferred on me the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of my contributions to scholarship.