I am a historian by training (Dr.phil., University of Heidelberg 2010; MA, University of Calcutta 2004; BA [History Honours], Presidency College, University of Calcutta 2002) with research interests and specialisation in the fields of religious and intellectual history of modern South Asia. Before joining Presidency University in 2013 I was Research Fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (now Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient) and taught at the Freie Universitaet, both in Berlin.
A substantial part of my previous research explored the evolution in modern India of the community of the Shia Ismailis with reference to issues of religious leadership, community development, and identity while also remaining sensitized to the transregional and global aspects of that history. Different pieces of this research came to be published as peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and eventually led to my monograph Ismailism and Islam in Modern South Asia: Community and Identity in the Age of Religious Internationals (Cambridge University Press, 2017). This book won the 2021 Karim and Rosemin Karim Prize for its contribution to understudied areas of Ismaili Studies published during the period 2017-20.
More recently, I have been exploring a range of interrelated themes that cut across the boundaries of religion, philosophy, mysticism, esotericism and, more generally religio-intellectual life in both South Asian and wider transcultural contexts. Publications from these new projects are at different stages of development and some of these have already come out in the form of refereed journal articles or book chapters. My present research interest in the relationship between spirituality, religious experience, and discourses of consciousness within the rubric of “psy-disciplines” has, furthermore, resulted in an interdisciplinary collaborative endeavour. This at once coalesced into my own peer-reviewed publication on aspects of “psy-disciplines’ in modern India as well as a themed issue of a refereed journal (which I guest-edited with Christopher Harding), viz. ‘Mind, Soul and Consciousness: Religion, Science and Psy-Disciplines in Modern South Asia’, South Asian History and Culture, 9, 3 (2018), subsequently reprinted as edited collection (Routledge 2019).
I have been recipient of doctoral scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service, and a number of prizes and grants since my Undergraduate and Graduate years. I am a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (elected in 2011) and, in 2017, I was an academic visitor within the rubric of the Study of the U.S. Institute for Scholars on Religious Pluralism, funded by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs, United States Department of State. More recently, my monograph won the 2021 Karim & Rosemin Karim Prize.
I teach courses in the fields of social, religious and intellectual history of modern South Asia with a particular reference to their transregional and global contexts and ramifications. I also supervise BA, MA & PhD dissertations on a wide array of themes.
For further details, an abridged CV and publications please click here.
BA with Honours in History (Presidency College, University of Calcutta, 2002): Jointly ranked Third in the First Class.
MA in History (University of Calcutta, through Presidency College, 2004): Ranked Third in the First Class.
Dr.phil./ PhD in History of South Asia (University of Heidelberg, 2010): Grade Magna cum Laude.
I graduated with a First Class in History (Honours), ranking third (in brackets) in the order of merit, from Presidency College, University of Calcutta (2002) and was awarded a Master’s degree in History, also graded First Class and ranking third, from the same institution (2004). I also qualified in the State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) for lectureship in colleges and universities and between 2004 and 2007 taught at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels.
In 2007 I won a Doctoral scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to pursue my research leading to PhD at the Department of History, South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg which I completed in 2010 with an overall grade of Magna cum Laude. I subsequently relocated to Berlin to first work as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (2011-12), and thereafter, on a secondment, as fulltime Lecturer in Islam in South Asia at the Freie Universität, also in Berlin (2012-13). In October 2013 I joined the Department of History, Presidency University as an Assistant Professor and have served as the Head of the Department of History (22 December 2016- 31 March 2019).
I have been recipient of a number of prizes and grants since my Undergraduate and Graduate years, and have been elected Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland. In 2017, I received a grant of the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs, United States Department of State within the rubric of a short-term exchange programme on the Study of the U.S. Institute for Scholars on Religious Pluralism and, more recently in 2021, won the Karim & Rosemin Karim Prize for contributions that my monograph made to Ismaili Studies.
Research / Administrative Experience+
Please see above in the section titled 'About You' and an abridged CV here.
I have served as Head of the Department of History (HoD) for the period 22 December 2016- 31 March 2019, as well as on a number of committees and sub-committees at the Department of History in particular, and the university in general, in my capacity as HoD. I continue to serve on several committees/ sub-committees that require attending to responsibilities ranging from regular day-to-day adminstrative matters to long-term planning. Some of these also require strong commitment to outreach programmes. For instance, I have been on a 5-member committee that organized an inter-disciplinary winter school on "The Relevance of Studying the Humanities & Social Sciences in the Himalayan Region" in Dow Hill, Kurseong (November-December 2016) to mark the commencement of academic activities of the Himalayan Centre of the Presidency University.
Furthermore, I have been inter alia on the review/ advisory board of ARGUMENT: Biannual Philosophical Journal, and serve the field as academic reviewer of book proposals, manuscripts etc. for international publishing houses (e.g. Oxford University Press; Routledge/ Taylor & Francis; Cambridge University Press; Sage), and have been external examiner of M.Phil. dissertation (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata; Jadavpur University; University of Calcutta).
Teaching / Other Experience+
I teach courses on socio-religious & intellectual history of modern South Asia. Such courses include: at the Postgraduate level, Islam in modern South Asia (Postgraduate, year II) and modern Indian intellectual history (Postgraduate, year II), and sessional courses research methods, on reading texts and on approaches to the practice of history (Postgraduate, year I, on occasions co-taught). I also teach methodology courses for PhD coursework. Undergraduate courses that I have taught in the recent years include: early modern South Asian cultures (General Education); Asian interactions between c. 700s and 1500s (UG II); Asian interactions between c. 1500s & 1960s at the Undergraduate level (year III).
Other courses taught in the past include: religious normativities, social reform and social service (Postgraduate, Optional), and modules on intellectual history (Postgraduate, Sessional), & seminal concepts and methods as part of a sessional course on reading texts in history (Postgraduate I). At the Undergraduate level, I have also covered courses and/ or modules on the Reformation in Europe and political and social history leading to the First World War and aspects of world politics since 1945, with particular reference to the Islamic Revolution in Iran (UG III), socio-religious reforms in 19th & 20th century South Asia (UG II), aspects of religious and intellectual history in ancient South Asia (UG II & UG I), and apsects of early medieval South Asian history (UG I); General Education courses focusing in particular on modules on modern South Asian history, as well as aspects of pan-Islamism and pan-Asianism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
In my supervisory role I have also been guining a number of BA, MA and two PhD dissertations.
Post Graduate Supervision+
My current responsibilities include supervision of MA dissertations on a wide range of topics. I also supervise three PhD candidates, working on the following themes:
- nationalism, the idea of development and the writing of economic history in modern India
- the idea of the divine feminine and religion, politics and culture in modern Bengal
- Vaishnavism in modern India
Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland
Kindly refer to my abridged CV here.
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Email: soumen.his at presiuniv.ac.in
alternate E-mail: soumenmukherjee26 at googlemail.com
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