I hold degrees in History (Honours, BA 2002, Presidency College, University of Calcutta; MA 2004, University of Calcutta) and History of South Asia (Dr. phil. 2010, University of Heidelberg). I have worked as Research Fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (now Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient) and taught at the Freie Universitaet, both in Berlin, before joining Presidency University in autumn 2013.
My research interests lie in the fields of socio-religious and intellectual history of modern South Asia. I am the author of Ismailism and Islam in Modern South Asia: Community and Identity in the Age of Religious Internationals (Cambridge University Press, 2017), a book in which I explore 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. In addition, I have also published in a number of refereed journals and edited books.
I am now in the process of transitioning to broadly four research projects in the following areas: 1) Indian secularism, religious pluralism, the idea of civil religion, and the intellectual enterprise of “Indian philosophy”; 2) the relationship between spirituality, religious experience, and discourses of consciousness within the rubric of the “psy-disciplines” in modern India; 3) the interface of fantastic histories and “new religious movements” interrogating, along the way, a number of crucial issues, such as those of scientism, identity, authority and not least religio-intellectual networks and institutions; 4) narratives of trans-Himalayan pilgrimage and sacred space in the Himalayan borderlands. 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. Furthermore a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal that I guest-edited [Guest-editor (with Christopher Harding) of Special Issue: ‘Mind, Soul and Consciousness: Religion, Science and Psy-Disciplines in Modern South Asia’, South Asian History and Culture, 9, 3 (2018)] reflects my recent academic interests and research outcome.
I have been recipient of doctoral scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service, a number of prizes and grants in my Undergraduate and Graduate years, and have been elected Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland. In 2017, I was an academic visitor within the rubric of a short-term exchange programme on 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.
I teach courses in the fields of social, religious and intellectual history of modern South Asia and their questions of transregional and global ramifications. I also supervise BA, MA & PhD dissertations on a wide array of themes.
BA with Honours in History (Presidency College, University of Calcutta, 2002): Co-ranked First Class Third.
MA in History (University of Calcutta, through Presidency College, 2004): Ranked First Class Third.
PhD in History of South Asia (University of Heidelberg, 2010): Graded 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 in 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.
Research / Administrative Experience+
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 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).
A substantial part of my earlier research focused on the history of Islam in South Asia with particular reference to issues of religious and socio-political change, of socio-religious leadership and identity. My Doctoral work, for instance, explored the history of a Daudi Bohra and a Nizari Khoja identity in colonial Bombay. However, thanks to my wider interests in entanglements of socio-religious networks of South Asian origin on the Indian Ocean, I came to focus in my Postdoctoral work on the transregional history of the Aga Khani Khojas and the Ismaili Imamate's religiously informed and/ or underpinned discourse of social service. Key strands of the above research, especially from the Postdoctoral project, have coalesced into my first monograph in addition to publications in anthologies and peer-reviewed journals.
My present research can be braodly divided into four branches: 1) Indian secularism, religious pluralism, the idea of civil religion, and the intellectual enterprise of “Indian philosophy”; 2) the relationship between spirituality, religious experience, and discourses of consciousness within the rubric of the “psy-disciplines” in modern India; 3) the interface of fantastic histories and “new religious movements” interrogating, along the way, a number of crucial issues, such as those of scientism, identity, authority and not least religio-intellectual networks and institutions; 4) narratives of trans-Himalayan pilgrimage and sacred space in the Himalayan borderlands. Publications from these new projects are at different stages of development, while a number of them have already been published in the form of refereed journal articles, book chapters, or a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal that I guest-edited.
NB: For an overview of my current research see above in the section titled 'About You'.
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 two 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
Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland
Ismailism and Islam in Modern South Asia: Community and Identity in the Age of Religious Internationals (Cambridge/ New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2017 ). ISBN: 9781107154087; https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316650479.
B) Edited Book/ Special Issue of Peer-Reviewed Journal:
Guest edited (with Christopher Harding & with a Foreword by J.N. Mohanty), Special Issue: ‘Mind, Soul and Consciousness: Religion, Science and Psy-Disciplines in Modern South Asia’, South Asian History and Culture, 9, 3 (2018). ISSN: 1947-2498.
[Reprinted as: Soumen Mukherjee and Christopher Harding (eds), Mind, Soul and Consciousness: Religion, Science and Psy-Disciplines in Modern South Asia (with a Foreword by J.N. Mohanty) (London & New York: Routledge, 2019); ISBN 9780367218485]
C) Articles in Refereed/ Peer-Reviewed Journals:
1. ‘Sufis, Yogis, and genealogies of “Islamic yoga”: Broaching religio-cultural encounters in premodern eastern India’, Religion Compass (2020); https://doi.org/10.1111/rec3.12368. Online ISSN: 1749-8171.
2. ‘Recovering wisdom of the “ancient rishis”: Girindrasekhar Bose, Indra Sen, and the psy-disciplines in modern India’, South Asian History and Culture, 9, 3 (2018), pp. 296-322; https://doi.org/10.1080/19472498.2018.1488369. ISSN: 1947-2498.
3. ‘Epilogue’, South Asian History and Culture, 9, 3 (2018), pp. 364-371; https://doi.org/10.1080/19472498.2018.1488367. ISSN: 1947-2498.
4. ‘Universalising Aspirations: Community and Social Service in the Isma'ili Imagination in Twentieth-Century South Asia and East Africa’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Series 3, 24, 3 (2014), pp. 435-453; doi:10.1017/S1356186314000315. ISSN: 1356-1863. [Reprinted in Justin Jones & Ali Usman Qasmi (eds), The Shi'a in Modern South Asia: Religion, History and Politics (New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 105-130].
5. ‘Being “Ismaili” and “Muslim”: Some Observations on the Politico-Religious Career of Aga Khan III’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 34, 2 (2011), pp. 188-207; doi: 10.1080/00856401.2011.587507. ISSN: 0085-6401 print; 1479-0270 online.
6. ‘Two Accounts of the Colonised “Other” in South Asia: Re-exploring Alterity’, South Asia Research, 30, 2 (2010), pp. 165-184; doi: 10.1177/026272801003000204. ISSN: 0262-7280.
D) Book Chapters/ Papers in Conference Proceedings:
1. ‘Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s Jesus and the Rediscovery of “Lost Tribes”: Towards a Manifesto for Connected and Fantastic Histories’ in Kingshuk Chatterjee (ed.), Contours of Relationship: India and the Middle East (New Delhi, KW Publishers Pvt. Ltd./ University of Calcutta CPWAS/ IFPS, 2017), pp. 13-44. ISBN-13: 978-9386288615. [Reprint edition: London & New York: Routledge, 2019; ISBN 9780367344078].
2. ‘Die internationalen Netzwerke des Aga Khan Development Network: Möglichkeiten und Grenzen eines muslimischen Kosmopolitismus’ in Bernhard Gißibl & Isabella Löhr (Hg./ eds), Bessere Welten: Kosmopolitismus in den Geschichtswissenschaften (Frankfurt/ M & New York: Campus Verlag, 2017). [Trans. into German by Felix Kurz & Bernhard Gißibl], pp. 343-372. ISBN 9783593506135.
3. ‘Modular Projects: Socio-Religious Sensibilities and Political Imagination among the Daudi Bohras in Modern South Asia’ in Radu Carciumaru (ed.), Negotiating Conflict and Accommodating Identity in South Asia (in Heidelberg Papers in Comparative & South Asian Politics Series), New Delhi, Samskriti: 2015, pp. 167-201. ISBN: 978-81-87374-83-1.
4. ‘Ismaili Samaj ebong dharmiyo netritto: kichu prasanga’ in Aniruddha Ray (ed.), Itihas Anusandhan 22, Kolkata: Paschimbanga Itihas Samsad: 2008, pp. 402-405. [In Bengali].
E) Working Paper:
‘Conceptualizing Reform and Building Consensus: Islam in South Asia, and some Aspects of Leadership Patterns and Political Consciousness’, Heidelberg Papers in South Asian and Comparative Politics, ISSN: 1617-5069, Working Paper No. 45 , March 2009; see < http://hpsacp.uni-hd.de/ >.
F) Encyclopaedia/ Lexicon articles:
1. Topical Essay: ‘Hindu sacred sites and pilgrimage in the Himalayas’ in Andrew Hund and James A. Wren, (eds), The Himalayas: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2018), pp. 15-19. ISBN hardcover: 978-1-4408-3938-2; ISBN e-book: 978-1-4408-3939-9.
2. Entry on ‘Diwali’ in Andrew Hund and James A. Wren, (eds), The Himalayas: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2018), pp. 108-110. ISBN hardcover: 978-1-4408-3938-2; ISBN e-book: 978-1-4408-3939-9.
3. Articles on: i) ‘Bahmani Sultanate’ (Bahmani Sultanat); ii) ‘Bihar & Orissa’; iii) ‘Bijapur Sultanate’ (Bijapur Sultanat); iv) ‘Bombay’; v) ‘Gujarat’; vi) ‘Ismaili’; vii) ‘Kashmir’ (Kaschmir); viii) ‘Parsi’ (Parsen) in Hermann Hiery (Hg./ ed.), Lexikon zur Überseegeschichte, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag: 2015. ISBN 978-3-515-10000-7 (Print) & ISBN 978-3-515-10875-1 (eBook) [Translated into German].
NB: Publications in popular media, book reviews et cetera not listed.
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