I am a Professor of Modern India in the Department of History, University of Delhi. My work focuses on gender, sexuality, masculinity, caste, religious identities and vernacular literatures in early twentieth century north India. My first book, Sexuality, Obscenity, Community: Women, Muslims and the Hindu Public in Colonial India (Permanent Black, 2001 & Palgrave, 2002; paperbacks 2005, 2008, 2012; kindle e-book 2013), addressed print and popular culture as a significant, if ambivalent site for the reproduction of patriarchy in late colonial north India. In my latest monograph, The Gender of Caste: Representing Dalits in Print (Permanent Black & University of Washington Press, 2016; paperback 2017), I focus on practices of distinction and hierarchy within the Hindu community through the regulation of caste, and specifically through the impact of caste ideology on women in the interwar period. Another co-authored book of mine, Contested Coastlines: Fisherfolk, Nations and Borders in South Asia (Routledge, 2008, 2018), probed the troubled journeys of coastal fisherfolk arrested and jailed by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for having entered each other’s territorial waters. I also regularly write academic articles in Hindi and am the author of the book Streetva Se Hindutva Tak: Aupaniveshik Bharat Mein Yaunikta Aur Saampradayikta (Rajkamal, 2012). Some of my writings have been translated as books in Marathi and Bengali. I have edited various books, including Gendering Colonial India: Reforms, Print, Caste and Communalism (Orient Blackswan, 2012) and Caste and Life Narratives (Primus, 2019). I have been the guest co-editor of special issues of the journals South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly and Cultural Dynamics. I have published more than forty peer reviewed papers in leading journals, including in Journal of Asian Studies, Modern Asian Studies, South Asia, Journal of Women’s History, Economic & Political Weekly, Indian Economic and Social History Review, Studies in History, Porn Studies and South Asian History and Culture.
I earned my PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. I have been a Visiting Professor and ICCR Chair at the University of Vienna, a Visiting Faculty at the Yale University, the Washington University and the Ram Watamull Distinguished Scholar at the University of Hawaii. I have also been a Commonwealth Scholar at SOAS; Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi; the Social Science Research Council, New York; the Asian Scholarship Foundation, Thailand; the Wellcome Institute, London; and the University of Oxford. I serve on the editorial board of various journals, including South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies (Australia), Gender and History (UK) and Journal of Women’s History (USA). I am presently working on social histories of particular genres and subjects through life narratives in Hindi in early twentieth century. The four protagonists of my current book project carved out utopian dreams of vernacular freedom through the diverse vantage points of Ayurveda, caste, travel and communism.