2019 Incoming Grad Series: Tannishtha Bhattacharjee

by Daina Tagavi, Professional Development Peer
Thursday, September 19, 2019 8:00 AM

The 2019 Incoming Grad Series continues, featuring backstories and fun facts on 8 students who are part of our most diverse incoming class in recent memory.

Grad school marks the next chapter in Tannishtha Bhattacharjee's adventure. She is coming to UCSB from ​Delhi, India, where she received a BA, MA, and MPhil in History. She is very excited to ​come to UCSB to continue her studies as a PhD student in the History Department.

Read on to learn more about ​​Tannishtha's childhood and some of her fun facts! 


Tannishtha grew up in a small industrial town called Jamshedpur, in Eastern India. However, like many diasporic families, she grew up with a complicated package of linguistic, regional, and cultural identities, which sparked her interest in the subject of history. Tannishtha participated in several activities in school, such as dance and other athletics, so it was tough for her to choose academics as her future. Also, being from an industrial town in India, it was extremely hard to justify or convince people of her dreams and ambitions outside of engineering and the physical sciences. Finally, she negotiated (with her parents) that she would be willing to study physical sciences in high school if she was allowed to pursue whatever she liked after school. After high school, she chose history as her major, and Lady Shri Ram College for Women as ​her undergraduate home. This college fundamentally shaped her approach, consciousness, and exposure by nurturing the coy, excited, small-town girl in her to become the confident, composed, humble and aware feminist academic that she is (or aspiring to be) today.


One major factor why Tannishtha is headed to UCSB is ​because they chose her! Additionally, she told us, "It is the most perfect fit for all components of what I am looking at studying." According to her, the array of expertise that the department at UCSB offered was unmatched. Her committee has an expert in each of her desired specializations - Consumer Culture in the colonial period, South Asian History, Gender History, and Material Culture. This opportunity felt crafted for her interests. Moreover, she said, with all its specialized research clusters, UCSB seemed like a vibrant, happy, and engaging community to be a part of.


Tannishtha's primary interest is to study the historicity of consumer culture emanating out of colonial experiences in South Asia. Within this she also wishes to excavate the role of gender in shaping the participation of historical actors in processes like colonization and consumerism. This interest stems from her MPhil dissertation on reading British women’s travel narratives on South Asia in the backdrop of a developing market for Asian products in the consumer media in 19th century Britain. From artifacts to shawls, she hopes to specifically explore the mediation of the colonial market by women, and at UCSB she hopes to also make comparative studies with the experience of colonialism outside of the South Asian one.



You can often find Tannishtha in shorts and shoes playing ​sports such as Ultimate Frisbee, Tennis, and Squash. She told us that she cannot resist an opportunity to play a sport that involves a lot of running (and eating a lot of food after). Tannishtha also enjoys karaoke and high snowy mountains, which will make California a great place for her to explore. 

Tannishtha also told us some fun facts about herself:

  • She loves sarees (the Indian drape) and is hoping to popularize them at UCSB.
  • She hasn't read Harry Potter despite being an avid reader.
  • It is impossible to keep her from dancing if there is Bollywood music playing. She is trained in two Indian classical dance forms!
  • She loves K-drama.

Welcome, ​Tannishtha!

Be sure to subscribe to the GradPost and check back each day until the start of classes for the continuation of our Incoming Grad Series. Up next is Valdis Jansons, an incoming Ph.D. student in ​Music who is currently a professional opera singer from Italy.