About me

Academics: 


I am a College Fellow in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard. My dissertation, “Questions of Faith: Christianity, Conversion and the Ideological Origins of Political Theology in Colonial India, 1813-1907”, is the first work in forty years to examine Christian evangelism in Bengal using archival evidence from sources such as vernacular Bengali broadsheets, pamphlets, court cases, probates and newspapers at multiple archives in the UK, India and Bangladesh. It has been generally argued that it is Islam against which a Hindu majoritarian political identity took shape in British India. The secularization of a discourse of the Hindu majoritarian identity as the true bearer of the nationalist discourse, and the legitimate inheritor of the political legacies of India, did emerge through the opposition to what was forcibly constructed as the “Other” to the imagined community of Indians. However, in my research I contend that in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was the native Christian converts who acted as this oppositional “Other” to the Indian communities of faith professing Hinduism or Islam. Using the liminal figure of the Indian Christian convert and the intellectual discourses on identity-politics that emerged around this lonely and vilified figure, I demonstrate the problem inherent in a colonial sociology of knowledge, which insisted on only one religious identity that could be used in claiming certain political, social and economic rights from the colonial state. Thus, my dissertation is an intellectual and political history of the creation of the Indian political self - a self that emerged through an often-oppositional relationship with evangelical Christianity and the apologetic debates arising out of such engagements

I was the recipient of the 2013 SSRC-IDRF dissertation research fellowship which enabled me to conduct research at multiple archives in the UK, in India and in Bangladesh. I was a visiting scholar at the Centre for History and Economics at Magdalene College, Cambridge University from November to July. I returned to Harvard in August 2015.

I finished writing my dissertation in the summer of 2017, aided by the grant of a 2016-17 GSAS Dissertation Completion Fellowship (DCF) from Harvard University. I defended my thesis on 5th September 2017, and was awarded the doctoral degree in March 2018. My dissertation committee members were Professors Sugata Bose (adviser), Emma Rothschild, David Armitage and Sunil Amrith. Prof. Ayesha Jalal of Tufts University acted as the external reader and examiner for my thesis.

From Fall 2018-19, I will join the History Department at Clemson University, SC, as an assistant professor.

 

Teaching:

I taught an undergraduate seminar course, in the Fall Semester 2015 as one of the three History Prize Instructors (HPI) for the Department of History, for the academic year 2015-2016. My course was "History 60u: Religion and Politics, India 1800-2015". I was also Digital Teaching Fellow in the Spring Semester for Prof. Sunil Amrith's course "SAS131: South Asia, A Global History". I supervised the creation of an online exhibition by our students, largely focused on migration in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal world in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the historical consequences of such large movements of people, ideas and information across the globe.

I am the History House Advisor for Leverett House at Harvard, acting as the liaison between the History Department and those Leverett undergraduates who are History concentrators or are considering a potential concentration in History. In this role, I meet with undergraduate students, discuss their plans of study and answer their questions regarding the department and the discipline.

This year, I co-teach the graduate teaching practicum for third year graduate students in the History Department at Harvard, with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), Prof. Alison Johnson. The course is designed to help those who will be acting as first-time teaching assistants for many undergraduate lecture and seminar courses at Harvard. With Dr. Carla Heelan, the Assistant director of Undergraduate Studies (ADUS), I co-teach the undergraduate senior thesis tutorial for the History Department. 

I also offer the course "SAS 182: Religion and Politics:India, 1800-2010."

Here's my profile on the AHA Member Spotlight blog:

http://blog.historians.org/2017/04/aha-member-spotlight-mou-banerjee/

 

 

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