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Ira Klein

Associate Professor Department of History

Additional Positions at AU

  • Chair, Faculty Senate Committee on Student Learning
After growing up in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Ira took his three degrees at Columbia University, enjoying Manhattan while writing many key articles in the Columbia Encyclopedia, and a light history of early modern Europe, and teaching at Queens College. He has spent three years in England and one in India doing research. In London, he was active in the Labour Party and was a founding member of the Campaign against Racial Discrimination. His three daughters write poetry and prose. Long at American University, among his most pleasing memories are that his articles on development, environment and health convinced Bangladesh to change its flood levy policies, and have served as a voice of the dispossessed, and that a lead newspaper article on the Iranian revolution of 1979 stirred the political establishment. He is happy also that he developed the Honors Program at AU and a community service-learning program and dorm floor.


PhD, MA, BS, History, Columbia University

Languages Spoken
French, Spanish, faded German and Hindi

Download CV (PDF)

CAS - History
Battelle Tompkins - 151
M/Th 5:05-7:35pm
Contact Info
(202) 885-2458 (Office)

Send email to Ira Klein

For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.
See Also
Department of History
Klein's Homepage

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

Research earlier featured the diplomacy of imperialism in Asia, and the Western impact in stimulating revolutions in Iran, India and China. A recent and current concentration focus mainly is on the effect of development on environment, health and population in Asia, mainly in India, from the nineteenth century until now. Another interest is on  the making of modern India, 1800-2005.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Fulbright Fellowship
  • Fellowship, American Institute of Indian Studies (2)
  • Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities (2)
  • Fellowship, Social Science Research Council
  • Fellowship, Ford-Rockefeller Population Program  
  • Outstanding Teacher, College of Arts and Science
  • Outstanding Teacher in General Education, American University
  • Outstanding Service College of Arts and Sciences
  • Outstanding Service,  AU Student Life  (2)
  • Faculty Member of the Year, AU Student Government, 2008.

Professional Services

  • Member, Faculty Senate, c. 1998-2001, 2003-4, 2006-current
  • Chair, Faculty Senate Committee on Student Learning and Academic Engagement, 2006-current
  • Faculty Senate Committee on Student Relations, c.1997-2000
  • Member and chair, Senate Undergraduate Studies Committee, c.1976-83
  • Chair, Senate Grievance Committee, c. 1989-96
  • Director and Board member, University Honors Program, c.1976-83
  • Vice-Chair, University Committee on General Education, c.1987-88
  • Director, University General Education Complement, c.1978-83
  • Member, University Committee on Student Research Awards, 2007-current
  • Vice-Chair, Department of History, and Chair, Undergraduate Studies Committee, Graduate Committee, Grievance Committee, various positions most years 1985-current

Selected Publications

  • "Lay Down to Die; Famine in India and Mysore, 1876-78," Journal of Indian History, 2010.
  • “Utilitarianism and Agrarian Progress in Western India,” Economic History Review, 43, 3.
  • “Whitehall, Washington and the Anglo-Japanese Alliance,” Pacific Historical Review, 46,4.
  • “British Intervention in the Persian Revolution,” Historical Journal, 15, 4. 
  • “Death in India,” Journal of Asian Studies, 32, 4. 
  • “Plague, Policy and Popular Unrest,” Modern Asian Studies, 22, 4.
  • “Population Growth and Mortality in British India,” Part 1, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 26, 4, Part 2, 27, 1. 
  • “Materialism, Mutiny and Modernization in India,” MAS, 34, 3.
  • “Development and Death: Re-interpreting Malaria, Economics and Ecology in British India,” IESHR, 38, 2.
  • “Railroads, Steel and Colonial India’s Economic Development,” Journal of Indian History, 84, 1-3.
  • “British Reforms, Commercial Agriculture and Agrarian Distress in India,” Historian, 70, 4.

Work In Progress

  • “Development, Ecology and Human Progress in India: 1815-1947” (book manuscript)
  • “The Making of Modern India, 1815-2000” (book manuscript)
  • “Lay Down to Die: Famine in Mysore and India, 1876-78” (scholarly essay)
  • “Humane Failings: Development and Famine Relief in  Colonial India “ (scholarly essay)
  • “Before Global Warming and Beyond: Development, Environment and Disease in India and Asia” (scholarly essay)