Educated in India and the United States, Gyan Prakash specializes in the history of modern India. His general field of research and teaching interests concerns urban modernity, the colonial genealogies of modernity, and problems of postcolonial thought and politics. He advises graduate students on modern South Asian history, colonialism and postcolonial theory, urban history, global history, and history of science.
From 2003 to 2008, he served as the director of Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies. Under him, the Davis Center conducted a two-year program on "Cities: Space, Society, and History" during 2003-05, and another two-year cycle on "Utopia/Dystopia: Historical Conditions of Possibility." He completed his five-year directorship of the Davis Center Davis Center with a one-year program on "Fear" in 2007-08.
Gyan Prakash is the author of Bonded Histories: Genealogies of Labor Servitude in Colonial India (1990), and Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India (1999), and has co-authored a book on world history, Worlds Together, Worlds Apart (2002). He has also written several articles on South Asian colonial history and on the relationship between colonialism and history writing, and edited several volumes of essays, including After Colonialism: Imperial Histories and Postcolonial Displacements (1995) and The Spaces of the Modern City (2008).
In addition to writing for scholarly journals, his reviews and essays also appear in general publications such as Times of India, Hindustan Times, Asian Age, Hindu, India Today, Timeout Mumbai, American Scholar, and The Nation.
His book Mumbai Fables (Princeton University Press and HarperCollins, India), an edited volume, Noir Urbanisms: Dystopic Images of the Modern City, and a co-edited volume, Utopia/Dystopia: Historical Conditions of Possibility were published by Princeton University Press in Fall 2010. The Tower of Silence, a book based on a 1927 detective novel manuscript that he discovered and edited, was published in 2013. Mumbai Fables has been adapted for a film, Bombay Velvet (2015), for which he wrote the story and cowrote the screenplay.