Dipesh Chakrabarty attended Presidency College of the University of Calcutta, where he received his undergraduate degree in physics. He also received a Post Graduate Diploma in Management (MBA) from Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. Later he moved on to the Australian National University in Canberra, from where he earned a PhD in history.
He is currently the Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations and the College at the University of Chicago. He was a visiting faculty at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. Chakrabarty also serves as a contributing editor for Public Culture, an academic journal published by Duke University Press.
He was a member of the Subaltern Studies collective. He has recently made important contributions to the intersections between history and postcolonial theory (Provincializing Europe [PE]), which continues and revises his earlier historical work on working-class history in Bengal (Rethinking Working-Class History). PE adds considerably to the debate of how postcolonial discourse engages in the writing of history (e.g., Robert J. C. Young's "White Mythologies"), critiquing historicism, which is intimately related to the West's notion of linear time. Chakrabarty argues that Western historiography's historicism universalizes liberalism, projecting it to all ends of the map. He suggests that, under the rubric of historicism, the end-goal of every society is to develop towards nationalism.
Chakrabarty has had an extensive program of visiting lecturships: Visiting Fellow, Humanities Institute, Princeton, USA (2002); Hitesranjan Sanyal Visiting Professor of History, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, University of Calcutta (2003); Visitor, Humanities Center, State University of New York, Stony Brook (2004); Visiting Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Historical Sciences, University of Göttingen, Germany (2005); Faculty, Seminar in Experimental Critical Theory, University of California, Irvine (2005); Visiting Research Professor, University of Technology, Sydney (2005 and 2009); Visitor, Center for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi (2005); Scholar-in-Residence, Pratt Institute, New York (2005); Visiting Professor, European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania (2006); Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Iowa (2007); Distinguished Visitor, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Minnesota (2007); Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2008–09): Katz Professor in the Humanities, University of Washington, Seattle (2009); Hallsworth Visiting Professor, University of Manchester, U.K. (2009); Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen, Vienna, Austria (2010); Lansdowne Lecturer, Victoria University, Canada (2012); Nicholson Distinguished Visiting Scholar, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (2013). In 2014, Chakrabarty delivered the IWM Lectures in Human Sciences in Vienna; a public lecture at Cankaya Municipality (Ankara, Turkey); Principal's Distinguished Visitor, Queen's University, Canada; Distinguished Visitor, Humanities Institute, Stony Brook University, New York; Visitor, University of Barcelona, Spain; Visiting Fellow, Humanities Research Centre, College of Arts & Social Sciences, Australian National University (2014); GLASS scholar, Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS) - Humanities University of Leiden, (2015). Previously, Chakrabarty has been, by invitation, a Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley, and has held other fellowships in Australia, India, and the US.
2004: Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2006: Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities
2010: Doctor of Letters (D. Litt (Honoris Causa)), University of London (conferred at Goldsmiths)
2011: honorary doctorate by the University of Antwerp, Belgium, in 2011; Distinguished Alumnus Award, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta (conferred on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Institute in 2011)
2014: Toynbee Prize, named for Professor Arnold J. Toynbee, that recognizes social scientists for significant academic and public contributions to humanity