I am a Doctoral Candidate in Social Anthropology (Universität Bielefeld) and Associate of the Contemporary South Asia Studies Programme (University of Oxford). In my research and teaching, I explore Muslim belonging, the ambivalence of the sacred and electoral politics in India; I have also written on Indian diplomacy (see research interests). Throughout, I am intrigued by the resilience of individual diversity in the face of groupism, a recurring theme in most of my publications that also guides my methodological choices.
My diploma thesis in political science analyzed various connections between religious identities and political agency among Muslim peace activists in Gujarat (monograph published by Sage, New Delhi); after a Master's dissertation on India's diplomatic culture (published in Journal of International Relations), my PhD in anthropology concerns the politics and poetics of Muslim belonging in contemporary Lucknow (more on this in my Blog). I am also active in India's nascent open data movement, developed a computer algorithm to infer likely religious community from South Asian names (forthcoming in Field Methods) and curate a comprehensive dataset on religion and politics in Uttar Pradesh. In this diverse set of projects, I build on a range of ethnographic, psychometric, spatial and statistical data generated during 18 months of fieldwork since 2008.
Institutionally, my current research is jointly supervised at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (Prof. Pfaff-Czarnecka) and at the Department of Anthropology, University College London (Dr. Michelutti). For field research, I was affiliated with the Center for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; throughout summer 2013, I wrote a first draft of my dissertation at the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford. From 2010 to 2011, I worked as part- and later full-time research fellow in comparative politics and international development studies at the Universität Marburg, and in 2012 as visiting faculty for research methods at SIT Study Abroad in New Delhi. Earlier, I read political science, sociology and peace and conflict studies (Dipl.-Pol.) at the Universität Marburg from 2004 to 2009, development studies and cultural anthropology at the School for International Training, Jaipur, in 2008 and area studies of contemporary India (M.Sc.) at the University of Oxford from 2009 to 2010.
Since 2007, I taught roughly 230 contact hours in Marburg and New Delhi, in the fields of comparative politics, research methods and academic skills, both German and English medium. Most classes have been independently evaluated and received excellent feedback. I have also designed curricula in international development studies (graduate level) and methods training (undergraduate level), and co-supervised undergraduate students' fieldwork projects. In my teaching, I regularly include academic writing and peer editing exercises to strengthen the analytical skills of my students (for more detail, see teaching portfolio).
So far, I obtained three Cusanus scholarships (German federal competitive scholarships for 1% top batch), two DAAD scholarships (one returned) and a write-up grant from the Bielefeld Young Researchers' Fund. I also won about 15.000 Euro in additional grants from various bodies (writing and travel grants, data acquisition, transcription costs, etc) and got computing power allocated at the ARC cluster worth 32.500 Euro in FEC for my UP dataset.
I am currently a member of the German Research Network Religion and Conflict at FEST, the German Association for Asian studies (DGA, since 2013 as spokesperson of the Early Career Network and visiting board member), the British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS) and the European Association for South Asian Studies (EASAS).