Associate Professor of History


Modern South Asia, environmental history, agricultural history, history of medicine and the body, history of economic life

Benjamin Siegel is a historian whose transnational archival work places South Asia at the center of global economic, environmental, and political transformations. His first book, Hungry Nation: Food, Famine, and the Making of Modern India (Cambridge University Press, 2018), interrogated the ways in which questions of food and scarcity structured Indian citizens’ understanding of welfare and citizenship since independence. Professor Siegel’s current book project, Markets of Pain: A Transnational History of the United States Opioid Crisis, is under contract with Oxford University Press.

Professor Siegel’s work has been published in the American Historical Review, the Caravan, the Christian Science Monitor, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle EastContemporary South Asia, Environmental History, Humanity, the Indian Economic Social and History Review, the International History Review, Modern Asian Studies, the World Policy Journal, VICE, and other journals and edited volumes. Dr. Siegel received his B.A. from Yale University and his A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, where his dissertation won the 2014 Sardar Patel Award given by the Center for India and South Asia at UCLA, honoring “the best doctoral dissertation on any aspect of modern India.” His work has been sponsored by grants and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and the Boston University Center for the Humanities.

At Boston University, Professor Siegel teaches regular courses on the history of South Asia, development in comparative perspective, food and agriculture, and history of medicine and the body; he supervises regular reading fields for graduate students in related fields. Professor Siegel was the 2020 recipient of the Frank and Lynne Wisneski Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the 2021 recipient of the Gerald and Deanne Gitner Family Undergraduate Teaching Prize in History.

Prior to coming to Boston University, Professor Siegel was a researcher and reporter for Time in New Delhi and Hong Kong, a Yale University Fox International Fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, a visiting fellow with Hong Kong University’s Centre for Medicine and the Humanities, an affiliate researcher at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, a Graduate Fellow at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, and an affiliate fellow at Yale University’s program in Agrarian Societies.

Curriculum Vitae