Ruma Chopra is Professor of History at San Jose State University. She received her PhD from the University of California, Davis, studying with Alan Taylor.
She is working on two new projects: The first, funded in part by the Social Science Research Council (at the University of Göttingen, Germany) investigates the rationale for transporting "coolies" to British Caribbean societies in the post-slavery era. The second considers how conceptualizations of "environment" shaped identities and imperial decision-making.
Her first book, Unnatural Rebellion (University of Virginia Press, 2011) explores the Americans who rejected the War for American Independence. Shunning rebel violence as unnecessary, unlawful, and unnatural, they emphasized the natural ties of blood, kinship, language, and religion that united the colonies to Britain. They hoped that British military strength would crush the minority rebellion and free the colonies to renegotiate their return to the empire...they were wrong.
Her second book, Choosing Sides (Rowman and Littlefield, 2013) reminds us that American loyalists resided in Canada, the Caribbean, and the area that became the United States. She shows loyalists of all sorts, elite and plebeian, white, black, and native, male and female, making their choices and living with the consequences.
Her third book, Almost Home (Yale University Press, 2018) examines the resilience of a deported Maroon community from Jamaica. She pulls together sources from archives in Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Nova Scotia, and Britain to show the surprising choices made by one marginalized group in the late eighteenth-century British Empire.