Nicholas Dirks

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Nicholas B. Dirks
Nicholas Dirks before taking Ice Bucket Challenge.png
10th Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley
Assumed office
June 1, 2013
Preceded by Robert J. Birgeneau
Personal details
Born 1950 (age 68–69)
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Janaki Bakhle
Alma mater University of Chicago
Wesleyan University
Profession Professor, historian, university administrator

Nicholas B. Dirks is the Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.

Early life

Dirks was born in Illinois, and grew up in New Haven, where his father, J. Edward Dirks was a professor at Yale University. When the latter received a Fulbright Scholarship in 1963 to teach at the Madras Christian College, the Dirks family relocated to Madras, where Nicholas' interest in Indian culture first formed. He attended Wesleyan University, from which he received a B.A. in 1972 (College of Social Studies),[1] and the University of Chicago, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1981. At the University of Chicago, he came under the influence of historical anthropologist Bernard Cohn. During this period he frequently returned for research purposes to South India.


After teaching at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan, Dirks moved to Columbia in 1997, where he dramatically altered the direction of the anthropology department, championing postcolonial and multidisciplinary approaches, and making a variety of strategic appointments. He was appointed as vice president in charge of Columbia's Faculty of Arts and Sciences as of September 2004.[2]

Dirks is the author of numerous books on South Asian history and culture, primarily concerned with the impact of British colonial rule. His most famous works include The Hollow Crown: Ethnohistory of an Indian Kingdom (1987), Castes of Mind (2001), and Scandal of Empire (2006). In these works Dirks advanced research on how the character of British rule shaped the culture of the Indian subcontinent, as well as how Britain's development came to be influenced by its colonies.

In November 2012, Dirks was selected as the Chancellor-Designate of the University of California, Berkeley.[3] On November 27, 2012, the Regents of the University of California confirmed Dirks as UC Berkeley's next Chancellor.[4] He took office on June 1, 2013.[5][6]

Dirks currently serves on the Council of Presidents for the University of the People. His work has helped develop the world's first non-profit, tuition-free, online academic institution that seeks to revolutionize higher education by making college-level studies accessible to students worldwide


Dirks is married to Janaki Bakhle, an associate professor of history at UC Berkeley. She is the former director of the South Asia Institute at Columbia University.[7]

Selected works


  1. Dirks ’72, Chancellor-Designate, U.C. Berkeley, “Embraces Opportunity”, The Wesleyan Connecticut. By Cynthia Rockwell. November 15, 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  2. Laura Butchy (May–June 2006). "Master Multitasker". Columbia College Today.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "UC Berkeley to Pick Columbia Dean as New Chancellor". KQED. November 9, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Gautham Thomas (November 27, 2012). "Dirks Confirmed as UC Berkeley's Next Chancellor". The Daily Californian. Retrieved 2012-11-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Dan Kwak (November 8, 2012). "Newly selected UC Berkeley chancellor described as strong academic". Daily Californian. Retrieved 2012-11-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Berkeley Sees Dirks Claiming Place as Ivy With Public Mandate, Businessweek. By Oliver Staley. March 28, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  7. Bakhle, Janaki. 2005. Two Men and Music: Nationalism in the Making of an Indian Classical Tradition, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195166118

External links