In Memorium: Sir Christopher Bayly

Sir Christopher Bayly, the Indian Ministry of Culture Vivekananda Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago and one of the world’s foremost scholars on South Asian and British imperial history, died suddenly on April 19 in Chicago. Bayly was the Vere Harmsworth Professor Emeritus at Cambridge University.

Bayly was in the second term of his visiting appointment at UChicago, where he was teaching a course on India in world history and preparing to present the Vivekananda public lecture next month. Last year, during his first term at the University, he delivered a widely attended lecture titled “Making Hinduism a ‘World Religion’: Before and After Swami Vivekananda.”

In a message to faculty, Martha Roth, dean of the Division of the Humanities, remembered Bayly as a friend and colleague to many at the University. “His presence on campus as a superb scholar and generous friend will be missed,” she wrote.

Bayly held numerous visiting appointments in the United States and Europe throughout his distinguished career. In addition to a Knight Bachelor awarded by Queen Elizabeth in 2007 “for services to history outside Europe,” he was honored by academic societies and institutions, including the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society, the Academia Europaea, the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Asiatic Society and the British Museum. In 2005 he received the Wolfson Prize for Lifetime Achievement in History.

Ulrike Stark, Bayly’s colleague in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, said the department was deeply saddened by the loss.

“In the relatively short time that Prof. Christopher Bayly was with us, he not only became a mainstay and important interlocutor in our community of South Asianists and historians on campus, but also a much esteemed and cherished colleague, and indeed, a dear friend to the members of the SALC department and beyond. And he was a wonderful and inspiring teacher, tremendously generous with his time and knowledge,” said Stark, professor and chair of South Asian Languages and Civilizations.

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