Samuel Ostroff

, Affiliated Lecturer
Sam Ostroff


Samuel Ostroff is a historian, educator, and administrator. He earned his Ph.D. in History and South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and holds a M.A. in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies from Columbia University. He completed his undergraduate studies at Bucknell University. In addition to his academic background, Samuel brings administrative and grant writing experience in the non-profit, education, and social impact sectors to the South Asia Center.

His research and teaching interests broadly include the social, economic, cultural, and environmental history of early modern and modern South Asia and the wider Indian Ocean world, 1500-Present. Samuel has lived and conducted archival research in India, the Netherlands, and United Kingdom. His dissertation, “The Beds of Empire: Power and Profit at the Pearl Fisheries of South India and Sri Lanka, c. 1770-1840,” analyzes the consumption and production of pearls sourced from the Gulf of Mannar in the context of Dutch and British imperialism, political economy, and marine resource management. This research was supported by competitive grants and fellowships, including a Fulbright-Hays DDRA and the Bernadotte E. Schmitt award from the American Historical Association. Samuel has held numerous FLAS awards and studied on AIIS programs in Madurai, Tamil Nadu and Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. He is proficient in Tamil and Dutch and has basic skills in Telugu and German. Samuel has served as a visiting or affiliated scholar at Leiden University, French Institute of Pondicherry, the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Urban Research, and the Jackson School of International Studies at UW.

Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Samuel enjoys hiking, running, biking, skiing, yoga, meditation, and gardening and is an ardent supporter of Arsenal Football Club. He lives in Seattle with his partner and three-year-old son.


  • University of Pennsylvania, PhD, History and South Asia Studies, 2016
  • University of Pennsylvania, MA, South Asia Studies, 2011
  • Columbia University, MA, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, 2009
  • Bucknell University, BA, History, 2005