Professor of History, Director of Graduate Studies
Nico Slate’s research and teaching focus on the history of social movements in the United States and India. He is the author of four books, two of which are forthcoming: Lord Cornwallis Is Dead: The Struggle for Democracy in the United States and India, which will be published by Harvard University Press in 2019, and Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet: Eating with the World in Mind, which will be published by the University of Washington Press in 2019.
Lord Cornwallis Is Dead traces the transmission of democratic ideas between two former colonies of the British Empire. Gandhian nonviolence lay at the heart of the American civil rights movement. Key Indian freedom fighters sharpened their political thought while studying and working in the United States. And the Indian American community fought its own battle for civil rights. Spanning three centuries and two continents, Lord Cornwallis Is Dead offers a new look at the struggle for freedom that linked two nations.
Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet: Eating with the World in Mind explores the relationship between Mahatma Gandhi’s diet and his life. Gandhi developed an ecological diet that respected the many connections between his food and his physical, social, and political environments. The pillars of Gandhi’s diet—vegetarianism, limiting salt and sweets, rejecting processed food, eating raw, farming, fasting—remain central to ongoing efforts to build healthier and more equitable food systems. By linking the personal and the political, Gandhi’s search for the perfect diet connects two of history’s perennial questions: how to live and what to eat.
Dr. Slate’s first book, Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India (Harvard University Press, 2012), argues that South Asians and African Americans learned from each other in ways that advanced their struggles for freedom. His second book, The Prism of Race: W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson and the Colored World of Cedric Dover (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), examines a crucial moment in the history of race through the lens of a self-described “Eurasian half-caste,” born in Calcutta in 1904, and his relationships with leading African American artists and intellectuals.
Dr. Slate is the editor of Black Power Beyond Borders (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013), a volume that tracks the global dimensions of the Black Power movement.
Dr. Slate is currently at work on two books: a study of race in Los Angeles after 1965 and a history of truth and power in the American civil rights movement. He is the founder and director of the Bajaj Rural Development Lab and SocialChange101.org, and is a regular contributor to the Arts Greenhouse, a hip hop education program that promotes the artistic and educational development of Pittsburgh teenagers.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in California's Mojave Desert, Dr. Slate earned degrees in Earth Systems and the Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities from Stanford University and in Environmental Change and Management from Oxford University before completing his Ph.D. in History at Harvard University.
EducationPh.D.: Harvard University, 2009
- Lord Cornwallis Is Dead: The Struggle for Democracy in the United States and India (Harvard University Press, forthcoming)
- Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet: Eating with the World in Mind (University of Washington Press, forthcoming)
- Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India (Harvard University Press, 2012)
- Black Power Beyond Borders, an edited volume (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
- The Prism of Race: W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson and the Colored World of Cedric Dover (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
- “From Mealie Pap to Peanut Milk: The African Diaspora, Culinary Cosmopolitanism, and Mahatma Gandhi’s Evolving Views on Race and Diet,”Global Food History, forthcoming.
- “Beyond the Mountain Top: Human Rights, Colored Cosmopolitanism, and the African American Freedom Struggle,” Journal of Civil and Human Rights 1, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2015)
- “East Indian, West Indian: Colored Cosmopolitanism, World Literature, and the Dual Autobiography of Cedric Dover and Claude McKay,” Modern Language Quarterly 76, no. 3 (September 2015)
- “Race as Freedom: How Cedric Dover and Barack Obama Became Black,” Racial and Ethnic Studies 35 (2012): 1-19.
- "Do Revolutions Needs Passports? From Gandhi to King to the Arab Spring" Berfrois (January 19, 2012)“
- Glorious Burdens: Teaching Obama’s History and the Long Civil Rights Movement,” The History Teacher 44, no. 4 (August 2011): 591-600.
- “Translating Race and Caste,” The Journal of Historical Sociology 24, no. 1 (March 2011): 62-79.
- “A Coloured Cosmopolitanism: Cedric Dover’s Reading of the Afro-Asian World,” in Sugata Bose and Kris Manjapra, editors. Cosmopolitan Thought Zones: South Asia and the Global Circulation of Ideas (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
- “‘I am a coloured woman’: Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya in the United States, 1939-41,” Contemporary South Asia 17, no. 1 (March 2009): 7-19.
- Barack Obama and the History of Race in America
- India/America: Democracy, Diversity, Development
- Gandhi and King: Nonviolent Leadership in a Globalized World
- The Civil Rights Movement and the World
- Sustainable Social Change: History and Practice
- India Today: Economics, Technology, and People
- India in the World: A History of Globalization
- Innovation and Social Change
Department Member Since: 2009