I graduated from Presidency College, Kolkata with Honours in History in 1979 and passed M.A. in History from Delhi University in 1981. I did my doctoral research on a UGC Research Fellowship at Calcutta University from 1982 to1986, after which I joined the University of North Bengal as a Lecturer. Having taught history also at Visva-Bharati and University of Burdwan, I joined Jadavpur University as a professor of history in 2007. I was a visiting fellow at Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris, in 1997, a visiting scholar at Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, in 2006 and an honorary fellow, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata, in 2011.
As a researcher, I have tried to do intellectual and cultural history focusing on the life of the Bengali bhadralok (middle-class literati). At first I was attracted to their cultural communism during the late colonial and early independence period. Then my attention shifted to their cultural nationalism. Recently I have taken interest in the bhadramahila (the womenfolk of the bhadralok family) too. Another recent research interest is Gandhian social activism in Bengal. I have taught a variety of subjects in my teaching career, e.g. different aspects of the socio-cultural history of modern India and Bengal (including their post-colonial history), early modern Europe, and ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Throughout my academic career, I have tried to combine my taste for literature with my training in history. An ongoing research project is on ‘Human-animal relationship in Bengali Culture: A study based on Bengali literature’.