Alam is an esteemed historian of India who specializes in Mughal political and institutional history and the history of Indo-Islamic culture. His current research includes the history of religious and literary cultures in pre-colonial northern India, the history of Indo-Persian travel accounts and the comparative history of the Islamic world as seen from the Indian perspective.
He is the author or editor of The Crisis of Empire in Mughal North India (1986); The Mughal State, 1526-1750 (1998); The Making of Indo-Persian Culture: Indian and French Studies (2000); A European Experience of the Mughal Orient (2001); The Languages of Political Islam in India, 1200-1800 (2004); and the forthcoming Indo-Persian Travels in the Age of Discovery, 1500-1800. Alam also has translated Persian materials from the later Mughal period and has worked closely with students on advanced Urdu and Persian literary and historical texts.
Alam came to the University in 2001 from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, where he was professor and chair of the Center for Historical Studies in the School of Social Sciences. He earned his B.A. from Jamia Millia University, New Delhi, an M.A. and M.Phil. from Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, and a Ph.D. in history from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.