Department of History

Tiraana Bains

Assistant Professor of History
Sharpe House, 321
Areas of Expertise Britain, The British Empire, South Asia
Office Hours Wednesdays, 3-5pm or by appointment


Tiraana Bains is a historian of Britain, South Asia, and the global British Empire. Her work examines how Britons and South Asians alike debated questions of empire, statecraft, labor, and political economy. She is currently completing a book manuscript titled Instituting Empire: The Contested Makings of a British Imperial State in South Asia, 1750-1800, which is under contract at Yale University Press and will be forthcoming in the Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth Century History and Culture. Drawing upon English and Persian print and manuscript sources, this book manuscript explains the emergence of a powerful British imperial polity across the Indian Ocean world. The project demonstrates the regularity and density of contestation over the political futures of South Asia and the British Empire among an expansive cast of historical actors, from Bengali salt-workers and weavers to American colonists and Scottish parliamentarians. The project makes the case for thinking connectively about imperial state-building and institution-making across North America, the Caribbean and South Asia. Equally, it highlights the import of intra-imperial competition and collaboration among multiple British colonies in the Indian Ocean. Bains is also researching a new project on the sharp divergences in the trajectories of various British colonial spaces such as Ireland and Australia between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries.

Tiraana Bains’s research has appeared in History Australia and her most recent article on intra-imperial relations among British territories in the Indian Ocean world will be forthcoming in The English Historical Review. Prior to coming to Brown, she held the Modern Intellectual History Postdoctoral Fellowship at Dartmouth College. She completed her doctorate in the History Department at Yale University in 2021.