I am an historian of society, politics, and culture in second-millennium South Asia: the period between the thirteenth century and the present in northern India. I am interested in questions of long-term change and continuity — in institutions, communities, and in cultural practices.
My first book, The Many Lives of a Rajput Queen: Heroic Pasts in India, 1500 - 1950, started out as an enquiry into the origins of a legendary queen in northwestern India, whose memory had become very important for majoritarian, ethno-nationalists in India in the late twentieth century. As I began to discover the many versions of her story, told in different regions and languages over some five hundred years, the book ended up becoming a history of memory instead — a history of how particular aspects of the past got preserved, papered over, layered over, or forgotten.
I am currently writing a second book about the making of early modern polities in northern India between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. The book explores how the diffusion of new technology — gunpowder and paper in particular — altered the extractive capacity of elites and states and generated new forms of politics.
I have also published about the history of the household, kinship, and slavery in early modern South Asia; and am collecting materials for a third book on the making of mass culture in mid-twentieth-century India.