Erum Hadi

Undergraduate Discipline


MPH, Boston University. Doctoral Candidate, St. John’s University. Hadi specializes in world history, focusing on South Asia in the Indian Ocean from the early to modern periods. Her dissertation develops the cultural history of the northwestern Indian communities involved in the Indian Ocean trade, with an analysis of their material culture. She received various fellowships, including the History Doctoral Fellowship and the Nikolas Davatzes Summer History Research Fellowships at St. John’s University. Recently, she was awarded the Laura Bassi Editorial Scholarship for her dissertation. In spring 2024, Professor Hadi presented her paper, “Sustaining Fragrant Fires Across the Indian Ocean: The Parsi Artisanal Acumen and Evolving Religious Material Culture,” at the Arts of the Indian Ocean Conference in Toronto, Canada. Her forthcoming publications include an article on the Ismaili merchants in the Persian Gulf trade in the Thematic Dossier on the Indian Ocean for Al-’Usur al-Wusta, 2025, and a chapter titled, “Traveling Inkwell: The Northwest Indian Merchants’ Writing Material Culture in the Colonial Era,” in the book Writing Artifacts. Her broader intellectual interests include the cultural identity, material culture, and intellectual history along the Indian Ocean littoral, with a future research focus on southern Pakistan’s coastal region and its transnational connections with the Persian Gulf and
East Africa during the colonial period. SLC, 2024–

Undergraduate Courses 2024-2025


History of South Asia

Open, Lecture—Fall

HIST 2027

South Asia, a region at the geographic center of the world’s most important cultural, religious, and commercial encounters for millennia, has a rich history of cultural exchanges. Its central location on the Indian Ocean provided it with transnational maritime connections to Africa and Southeast Asia, while its land routes facilitated constant contact with the Eurasian continent. The region has witnessed numerous foreign rules, from the early Central Asian Turkic dynasties to the Mughals and, finally, the British. After gaining independence from British colonial rule, the region was eventually partitioned into three different nations—India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh—each with its distinctive form of government. South Asia has produced a significant diaspora worldwide, preserving its cultural heritage and creating further cultural exchanges with the adopted nations, thereby influencing global culture. Despite facing development challenges and political instability, South Asia is rapidly developing within the capitalistic world economy and becoming an important player on the global scene, both politically and culturally. This course will provide students with a survey of South Asia from the era of the early Indus Civilization to the present. Lectures and sources will trace major political events and the region’s cultural, ecological, and economic developments that have significantly shaped South Asian history. Students will analyze both primary and secondary sources, enhancing their understanding of this diverse society. They are expected to engage in lectures, reading, class discussions, group work, and writing to examine the major themes and debates in South Asian history and develop sound arguments.


History of the Indian Ocean

Open, Seminar—Spring

HIST 3265

The Indian Ocean is the third-largest ocean in the world and contributes almost 30 percent to the total oceanic realm of our planet. Current scholars have defined the Indian Ocean to include the oceanic and littoral spaces in the southwest from the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, to the Red Sea in the north, then horizontally through to the South China Sea in the east, and down to Australia in the southeast. Commerce around the Indian Ocean continued as a web of production and trade that spanned across the ports of India, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Indian Ocean ports were the fulcrum of maritime trade that precipitated spontaneous transcultural interactions between traders and inhabitants of different geographic regions who mingled there to exchange commodities. Ships followed monsoons or seasonal wind patterns, and sailors were obliged to wait at length for return departures from ports, which was a significant cause of cultural transfer. Various religions, including Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, were mobile across the Indian Ocean networks; and extant beliefs, practices, and material cultures are evidence. The study of the Indian Ocean World (IOW), as some historians have termed it, is a newly emerging field in world history. New evidence from historical research of the last 30 years has recovered the lost significance of this region, which was the center of a robust and complex trade and cultural network for a millennium and that continues today. This course is designed to provide students with a survey of Indian Ocean world history from the medieval to the colonial era. Lectures and sources will help students deepen their knowledge of peoples and cultures around the Indian Ocean and gain a wider appreciation for the transnational trade and cultural and religious networks that existed there. Students will learn to examine that globalization is not a modern phenomenon but, rather, an ongoing aspect of the Indian Ocean. Each week, students will evaluate sources that explore the discrete regions of the Indian Ocean, their people, and the religious networks, commercial exchanges, migrations, and political events that they engender to make a complex and dynamic connected history. Students are expected to engage in lectures, reading, class discussions, group work, and writing to examine the major themes and debates in Indian Ocean history and develop sound arguments.