Dr Dominic Vendell

Postdoctoral Research Associate


01392 724189

I am a historian of South Asia. My main research concerns the relationship between politics, state-formation, and socio-cultural exchange with particular attention to scribal networks and practices of documentation and communication in 18th century India. In addition, I am interested in the history of modern Marathi social and political thought, a topic on which I have published. 

At Exeter, I work with Dr. Nandini Chatterjee and Dr. Elizabeth Thelen on an ERC-funded collaborative research project titled Forms of Law in the Early Modern Persianate World, 17th-19th Centuries.



Research interests

My research focuses on political life and political practice in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century South Asia. I am especially interested in the expansion of scribal-bureaucratic networks between the Maratha states of western and central India, and in how these networks deployed forms of written and spoken communication to form and subvert political coalitions. Currently, I am developing a book project that examines how this communicative practice undergirded the politics of the transformative Maratha interregnum between Mughal and British rule in South Asia.

I maintain a separate interest in modern Marathi intellectual history, particularly the social and political thought of the anti-caste reformer Jotirao Phule and his interlocutors. I have published an article on Phule's theorization of subaltern consciousness in the May 2014 issue of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East


Research collaborations

In connection with the Forms of Law in the Early Modern Persianate World project, I conduct research on Persian and Marathi-Persian bilingual legal, administrative, and political documentation. The overarching goal of this project, which encompasses legal documents written in Persian and other languages in five major linguistic-cultural zones, is to understand how both skilled practitioners and ordinary people used complex documentary forms to claim and negotiate entitlements. Within this purview, I aim to investigate several key issues, including typologies of Persianate documentary forms in Marathi; uses of documentation in the context of political negotiation; and the interaction of spoken and written forms of legal attestation.

To read more about this work, please visit the Lawforms blog.