Gunja SenGupta

Visiting Professor of History Affiliation: Visiting
Education: BA, University of Bombay (India); PhD, Tulane University

Research Areas: Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds; US and the World with special reference to slavery and freedom; US Civil War and Reconstruction; African American history; Women's history; race, poverty and welfare; History and Films of the Black Atlantic; Afro-Asian relations in Americas

Gunja SenGupta is a Professor of History at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her current research and teaching interests lie in slavery and freedom in the 19th-century Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds; US Civil War and Reconstruction within transnational frames of reference; African American history; women’s history; Afro-Asian interactions in the U.S.; race, gender, poverty, and social welfare; and Black Atlantic history on film.

SenGupta's most recent work, Sojourners, Sultans, and Slaves: America and the Indian Ocean in the Age of Abolition and Empire, co-authored with Awam Amkpa (University of California Press, 2023), won the 2024 Bentley Book Prize for “outstanding contributions” to the field of World History awarded by the World History Association (WHA). The book fleshes out on a granular level, the interface among the personal, domestic, and international politics of slavery by tracking the circulation of people, the echo of ideas, and the resonance of policy among nodes of commercial exchange, imperial power rivalries, and reform activism, extending from Anglo America through the Swahili coast of East Africa, the Red Sea, and the Gulf into South Asia. The authors have developed a related, grant-funded pedagogy site, Sojourners, Sultans, and Slaves.

SenGupta’s first book, For God and Mammon: Evangelicals and Entrepreneurs, Masters and Slaves in Territorial Kansas (University of Georgia Press, 1996), dealt with American sectional conflict and consensus. In her second, From Slavery to Poverty: The Racial Origins of Welfare in New York, 1840-1918 (New York University Press, 2009), she explored welfare debates as sites for negotiating identities of class, race, gender, and nation. 

SenGupta's work has been funded by fellowships and grants awarded by the Mrs. Giles Whiting, Wolfe, Tow, and Mellon foundations among others, as well as by CUNY’s Mellon-funded Black, Race, and Ethnic Studies Initiative (BRESI-CUNY).  Her articles have appeared in numerous journals including the American Historical Review, Journal of Negro (now African American) History, Civil War History, Kansas History, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, and Transition Magazine. 

Current Research

Current book project on Afro-Asian interactions in the 19th and early 20th centuries US explores the ways in which African America figured into Asian immigrant struggles for reinvention, renewal, and rights.

Courses Taught