Supported by the Penn State Humanities Institute, American Institute for Indian Studies, the American Institute for Bangladesh Studies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the CAORC Multi-County Fellowship Program, the U.S. Library of Congress Tan Moeson Fellowship Program, the Fulbright U.S.-UK Scholar Program, the University of Victoria Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, the Canada Research Chair program, the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, and the Bogliasco Foundation, my work focuses on the history of globalization, religion, literary culture, decolonization, and migrations in global and comparative contexts. Trained as a modern South Asian historian and alive to debates in cultural studies, post-colonial studies, political theory, and globalization, my research activities are organized into four major areas of inquiry:
Histories of nationalism and decolonization
With a grounding in modern South Asian history (c. 1750 – the present), my research focuses on the region of Bengal, its many and multi-faceted communities and histories, inclusive of histories of the region within many containers (colonial India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) with a view toward exploring the over-lapping histories of religion, language, and culture in particular formations of social life as a lens into the making of the modern world.
Histories and theories of religion
This area features classic questions of theory and method in religion as well as the intellectual history of religion as an active and practical resource for making meaning and effecting social changes in the world. My current book project, Religion before Gandhi: Meanings and Ends of Religion in Colonial India, examines religious reform in India through attention to the history of comparative thought and practical engagement in the Brahma Samaj, a key reformist movement active born in the early nineteenth century. Through chapters on the organization’s study of and practical engagement with Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, and Vaishnava traditions and practices as well as strands of Unitarian and Transcendentalist thought and practice, I explore the implications of Indian sources for a broader history of religion in modern history.
Migration in global and comparative historical perspectives
Grounded in the historical experiences of South Asian migrants in various guises – indentured laborers, merchant capitalists, professionals, pilgrims, radical anti-colonialists – within the modern world system (c. 1830 onward), my particular interests focus on how South Asian migrants traverse and make the world system. A recent project includes the edited volume South Asian Migrations in Global History: Labor, Law, and Wayward Lives, based on the October 2017 workshop, Between Indigenous and Immigrant: South Asian Migrations in Global History and a biography of border-crosser and “transnational nationalist” Taraknath Das, 1884 – 1958.
Literary and cultural criticism in global and historical perspective
Based on a commitment to critical and historical perspectives on aesthetics and the imagination, I research and write about historiography, the poles between history and literary criticism, theater, and performance in the context of modern and contemporary globalization. Recent work includes India after World History: Literature, Comparison, and Approaches to Globalization, an edited volume exploring the links between current iterations of global history writing and world literature studies, based on a collaborative set of workshops at Northwestern University’s Center for Global Culture and Communication, October 19-20, 2017, and at the University of Victoria’s Global South Colloquium, September 7th, 2018, titled Globalization, Global, and World: History, Literature, and Spaces of the Present.