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Dr Priya Atwal

Dr Priya Atwal

  • Teaching fellows

Teaching Fellow in Modern South Asian History

Contact details


I joined King’s in 2018, having previously studied and worked at the University of Oxford and gaining a DPhil in History in June 2017.

I have professional experience of a wide variety of sectors (including advertising, television, museums/heritage and university outreach), having worked on a number of short-term projects alongside and after completing my studies. In 2017-18, I worked as a Knowledge Exchange Fellow with Oxford’s History Faculty and the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, leading a team of intergenerational British Asian volunteers to research and design a new touring exhibition entitled ‘The Indian Army and the First World War: an Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire perspective’. Alongside my current role at King’s, I continue to maintain my links with Oxford as a TORCH Visiting Research Fellow.

I am now working on a book project about the rise and fall of the Sikh Empire – particularly highlighting new perspectives about the largely overlooked cultural and political roles played by Punjabi royal women and princes in shaping the fortunes of their dynastic kingdom. This draws on some of the findings of my doctoral research, which explored the changing dynamics of relations between British and Indian royalty, and of monarchy and empire more broadly, over the course of the nineteenth-century, with a special focus on the ties between the royal families of Maharajah Ranjit Singh (ruler of the Sikh Empire) and the British monarch, Queen Victoria.

Research interests

  • The history of South Asia (late eighteenth century to the modern day), particularly Sikh and Punjabi history
  • British imperialism and Asian migration to Britain
  • Monarchy and royal culture in a global/imperial context
  • Gender history 

Selected Publications

  • Dynastic Diplomacy and the Global Politics of the Anglo-Punjabi Royal Friendship, 1806-1854’, Global Intellectual History special issue (forthcoming)
  • The Rise and Fall of the Sikh Empire – forthcoming book to be published by Hurst (2019-20)
  • ‘How can we make Global History work?’ – blog post for the Royal Historical Society:

I predominantly teach courses on the history of South Asia, spanning from the early modern era to the present day. Drawing on my own research interests, I encourage students to reflect on the local and global/transnational links between the subjects that they are learning about; as well as consistently incorporating gender history and material culture into my course content, in order to challenge students to think more broadly and holistically about the subject under study.

I am also interested in getting students to think creatively about what the ‘future of History’ might look like: particularly due to the evolution of digital media and communications, and its potential impact on how historians of the twenty-first century will be able to access and interpret the kinds of ‘sources’ that the current generation leaves behind about itself. 

Expertise and Public Engagement
I am passionate about making academic History more accessible to public audiences, and have particularly gained considerable experience in working with the British Asian community in this endeavour.

My 2017-18 Knowledge Exchange project designed and created an exhibition with a team of non-specialist, intergenerational community volunteers. This exhibition has toured across 5 museums in the counties of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. I subsequently worked with the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum to turn the new research that underpinned the project into teaching resources for local primary schools, in order to expand its legacy and to support a more inclusive style of historical teaching about WW1, empire and their connections with the local community in Oxfordshire schools.

I have made regular media appearances discussing both WW1 Indian Army project and my research on monarchy and empire across radio, print and television – most recently appearing as a contributor on the BBC4 documentary, ‘The Stolen Maharajah’.

I have also worked on a consultancy basis with a number of organisations: including the National Trust, the Royal Library and currently, Historic Royal Palaces, to support their planning and community engagement work towards a new exhibition on Queen Victoria, opening in May 2019.