Associate Professor Kama Maclean

Associate Professor
BA PhD La Trobe, Grad Dip L & T UNSW
School of Humanities & Languages


9385 3665
Room 366, Morven Brown


Email for a consultation appointment.
Fields: Historical Studies, Asian History
Tags: Religion and society, Understanding Asia's Past

Over the past ten years, I have worked across a range of topics related to north India, including nationalist mobilisation, the politics of pilgrimage, theories of social communication and intercolonial histories. This work has drawn on a range of research methodologies and disciplines, from political science, history, anthropology and visual culture studies.

My last book, 'A Revolutionary History of Interwar India: Violence, Image, Voice and Text' (New York: Oxford, London: Hurst & Co., 2015; New Delhi, Penguin, 2016) revisits the historiography of the Indian freedom struggle, which has been largely framed as a triumph for the Gandhian ideology of non-violence, despite the fairly regular eruptions of anti-colonial violence that peppered British India in the early twentieth century. I focus on the politics of Indian nationalism from its moment of acceleration in the interwar period following the visitation of the Simon Commision, to factor in the political impact of the North Indian revolutionaries; the votaries of violence who coordinated attacks on colonial interests in an attempt to undermine British confidence and expedite decolonisation. Focussing on the activities of one organisation, the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA), the book draws on new evidence to deliver a fresh perspective on the ambitions, ideologies and practices of this influential party, formed by Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh and inspired by transnational anti-imperial dissent.

The core argument of the book is that the presence of the revolutionaries on the political landscape during these crucial years tested and ultimately redefined the Congress policy of nonviolence. The book is therefore both a history of the north Indian revolutionaries in the interwar period, and a history which is revolutionary, in that it demonstrates the important role that the revolutionaries played in influencing Congress policy, bringing India closer to Independence. In re-visiting the history of a crucial phase of the independence movement as it has been framed by the foundational work of scholars researching in the 1970s, the book brings new methodologies and fresh modes of interpretation to the task of understanding the forces leading up to the civil disobedience movement, and the Salt Satyagraha, one of the greatest moments of Congress radicalism.

My current project, funded by an ARC Discovery Grant (2012-15), 'Imagining India in White Australia: Intercolonial Relations and the Empire', explores the extent and impact of social and political relationships between Indians and Australians in the early twentieth century. The resulting book, British India, White Australia, discusses the history of the early Indian diaspora in Australia, and of the role of Australians in Britih India in supporting and opposing imperialism. 

I am also currently working to extend my work on political violence in British India, as well as developing a research project on R. G. Casey, the Australian Governor of Bengal (1944-46). 


Dr Kama Maclean is Associate Professor of South Asian and World History in the School of Humanities (FASS)  and editor of South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, published by the South Asian Studies Association of Australia. 

Kama's first book, Pilgrimage and Power: the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, was published in New York by Oxford University Press in 2008, and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Kentish Anand Coomaraswamy Prize, by the Association of Asian Studies in the USA.

In 2009, Kama took up a one year appointment as Professorial Research Fellow at the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain, where she began to research and write about anticolonial activism in interwar India, a project which focuses largely on the ways in which the actions of what the British called 'the violence movement' impacted on the broader nationalist movement. She has written several articles on this topic and her book, A Revolutionary History of Interwar India: Violence, Image, Voice and Text was published by Hurst & Co (London) and Oxford University Press (New York), 2015 and Penguin (New Delhi, 2016). 

In 2012, Kama was awarded an ARC Discovery Grant to complete a project on the extent and impact of social and political relationships between Indians and Australians in the early twentieth century. 



    Book Chapters

    • Maclean K, 2018, 'Naming Charlie: Inscribing British Indian Identities in White Australia, 1901-1940', in Bandyopadhyay S; Buckingham J (ed.), Indian and the Antipodes Networks, Boundaries and Circulation, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, pp. 94 - 128
    • Maclean K, 2017, 'On the Art of Panicking Quietly: British Expatriate Responses to “Terrorist Outrages” in India, 1912-33'', in Fischer-Tine H (ed.), Anxieties, Fear and Panic in Colonial Settings Empires on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, edn. Cambridge Imperial and Postcolonial Studies Series, Springer, pp. 135 - 166,
    • Maclean K, 2016, 'The Art of Panicking Quietly: British Expatriate Responses to 'Terrorist Outrages' in India, 1912-33', in FischerTine H (ed.), ANXIETIES, FEAR AND PANIC IN COLONIAL SETTINGS: EMPIRES ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, edn. Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series, SPRINGER INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING AG, pp. 135 - 167,
    • Maclean K, 2013, 'Situating the Role of Religion in the Rebellion: The Case of the Prayagwals in the Allahabad Uprising', in Bates C (ed.), Mutiny at the Margins: New Perspectives on the Indian Uprising of 1857, edn. 1st, Sage Publications, New Delhi, pp. 149 - 168,
    • Maclean K, 2012, 'India in Australia: A recent history of a very long engagement', in Hosking R; Sarwal A (ed.), Wanderings in India: Australian Perceptions, edn. 1st, Monash Asia Publishing, Clayton, Victoria, pp. 20 - 35
    • Maclean K, 2008, 'Hybrid Nationalist or Hindu Nationalist? The Life of Madan Mohan Malaviya (1861-1946)', in Tall Tales and True: India, historiography and British Imperial Imaginings, edn. Original, Monash Asia Institute, Clayton, pp. 107 - 124
    • Maclean K, 2007, 'On the Modern Kumbh Mela', in Mehrota AK (ed.), The Last Bungalow: writings on Allahabad, edn. Original, Penguin Books, New Dehli, pp. 285 - 306

    Journal articles

    • Maclean K, 2017, 'The fundamental rights resolution: Nationalism, internationalism, and cosmopolitanism in an interwar moment', Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, vol. 37, pp. 213 - 219,
    • Maclean K, 2016, 'Revolution and Revelation, or, When is History Too Soon?', South Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies, vol. 39, pp. 678 - 694,
    • Maclean K, 2015, 'Examinations, access, and inequity within the empire: Britain, Australia and India, 1890–1910', Postcolonial Studies, vol. 18, pp. 115 - 132,
    • Maclean K, 2014, 'Imagining the Indian nationalist movement: Revolutionary metaphors in imagery of the freedom struggle', Journal of Material Culture, vol. 19, pp. 7 - 34,
    • Maclean K;Daniel Elam J, 2013, 'Reading revolutionaries: Texts, acts, and afterlives of political action in late colonial South Asia: Who is a revolutionary?', Postcolonial Studies, vol. 16, pp. 113 - 123,
    • MacLean K, 2013, 'What Durga Bhabhi did next: Or, was there a gendered agenda in revolutionary circles?', South Asian History and Culture, vol. 4, pp. 176 - 195,
    • MacLean K, 2012, 'The history of a legend: Accounting for popular histories of revolutionary nationalism in India', Modern Asian Studies, vol. 46, pp. 1540 - 1571,
    • Maclean K, 2012, 'Australia India Relations and the Economy of Ideas', East Asia Forum Quarterly, vol. 4, pp. 20 - 22
    • MacLean K, 2011, 'The portrait's journey: The image, social communication and martyr-making in colonial India', Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 70, pp. 1051 - 1082,
    • Maclean K, 2009, 'SEEING, BEING SEEN, AND NOT BEING SEEN Pilgrimage, Tourism, and Layers of Looking at the Kumbh Mela', CROSS CURRENTS, vol. 59, pp. 319 - 341,
    • Maclean K, 2003, 'Making the colonial state work for you: The modern beginnings of the ancient Kumbh Mela in Allahabad', JOURNAL OF ASIAN STUDIES, vol. 62, pp. 873 - 905,
    • Maclean K, 2001, 'Conflicting Spaces: The Fort of Allahabad and the Kumbh Mela, 1801-1860’', South Asia - Journal of South Asian Studies, vol. 24, pp. 135 - 159

    Edited Books


Kama Maclean coordinates and teaches two courses, Modern India: British Raj to Bollywood (second year) and Powerful India (third year). She also teaches History and Asian Studies Honours.  

Honours and prizes

Prizes, Awards and Fellowships
Professorial Research Fellow, University of the United Arab Emirates, 2009
Honorable mention, Anand Kentish Coomaraswamy Prize, Association of Asian Studies, 2009
Association of Asian Studies (AAS) First Book Subvention, 2007
Australian Academy of the Humanities (AAH) Fieldwork Fellowship, 2004
Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) Presidents’ Prize, 2004


Professional contribution

Editor, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 

Affiliations and membership

Association of Asian Studies (AAS)

South Asian Studies Association (SASA), member, executive committee

Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA)

Related links

South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies


On A Revolutionary History of Interwar India

With Firstpost, Revolutionary Road

With the Statesman


On the History of the Indian Diaspora in Australia

A salute to the spirit of Indian Cameleers


Indian immigration to Australia, 1890s (in Hindi)

A recent radio interview on the Kumbh Mela


Excerpts from A Revolutionary History of Interwar India:

On Gandhi and Bhagat Singh

On the life of Durga Devi Vohra 

On Bhagat Singh's Hat

Introduction to A Revolutionary History of Interwar India:


Other information