Indian American historian Sunil Amrith among 2017 MacArthur Fellows

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The 23 fellows selected this year are from the United States and one is from Germany.

The MacArthur Foundation on Tuesday announced their list of MacArthur Fellows 2017 and Indian American historian at Harvard University Sunil Amrith is among the 24 extraordinary creative people selected as this year’s honorees.

The 38-year-old Amrith of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a historian exploring migration in South and Southeast Asia and its role in shaping present-day social and cultural dynamics. His focus on migration, rather than political forces such as colonial empires and the formation of modern nations, demonstrates that South Asia (primarily India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) and Southeast Asia (including Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore) are tied by centuries of movement of people and goods around and across the Bay of Bengal.

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He was chosen for “illustrating the role of centuries of transnational migration in the present-day social and cultural dynamics of South and Southeast Asia,” according to the MacArthur Foundation.

Currently, Amrith works as Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies and a professor of history at Harvard University. He is also a director of the Harvard Joint Center for History and Economics.

Amrith grew up in Singapore and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Cambridge. He was a research fellow of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge during 2004 to 2006 and before coming to Harvard in 2015, he spent nine years teaching modern Asian history at Birkbeck College, University of London.

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His book, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants was awarded the American Historical Association’s John F. Richards Prize in South Asian History in 2014. He is also the author of Migration and Diaspora in Modern Asia, and Decolonizing International Health: South and Southeast Asia, 1930-1965. Amrith has written articles for journals including American Historical ReviewPast and Present and Economic and Political Weekly. He was awarded the 2016 Infosys Prize in Humanities.

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MacArthur Fellows Program, which is also known as genius grants, is an annual no-strings-attached award of $625,000 per person, to be awarded over five years. It is given to “extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential”. The 23 fellows selected this year are from the United States and one is from Germany.