South Asia Studies
M.A, M.Phil, & Ph.D., Columbia University
Studies the intersections of gender, identity, and language in contemporary South Asia.
Much of my research explores how gender, regional identity, or sectarian tensions mediate poetic production, appreciation, and meaning in contemporary South Asia. My writings also engage the anthropology of emotion/affect. I work on literature and language use in both Hindi and Urdu, with particular attention to expressive traditions among women, especially laments that gained prominence in the nineteenth century and continue to have vibrant (often religiously based) performance contexts today. Some of my newer research documents the construction of linguistic identity and heritage in areas within South Asia where speakers of “major” languages form minority communities. My most recent article,” A House Overturned: A Classical Urdu Lament in Braj Bhasha,” co-authored with Valerie Ritter of the University of Chicago, was published in Shared Idioms, Sacred Symbols: Process, Power, and the Articulation of Religious Identities in South Asia (Routledge, 2009).
I earned my Ph.D. (2002), M. Phil., and M.A. from Columbia University, and did undergraduate work at Bryn Mawr, Banaras Hindu University, and the University of Wisconsin. Prior to Spring 2009, I was Assistant Professor of Hindi/Urdu at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and before that taught at the University of Wisconsin, Harvard, and Columbia. In an even earlier avatar, I spent three years as Academic Director of the School for International Training’s College Semester Abroad Program in western India.
Recent travels have taken me to India and Bangladesh to work on the manuscript of my book, He Made Me Light Up the Gathering: Women’s Piety, Poetry, and Performance in South Asian Shi‘i Islam. My upcoming schedule includes teaching courses in intermediate (my favorite level!) Hindi/ Urdu at Wellesley and Urdu literature at Harvard, and a visiting fellowship at the Max Planck Institute’s Center for the History of Emotions, Berlin.