Broadly speaking, I study popular politics, religious conflict, the political economy of corruption and urban development in North India, building on ethnographic, statistical and spatial data generated in so far 19 months of fieldwork since 2008, primarily among the country's large and diverse Muslim population. I have also written research software, curate a comprehensive public repository of statistics on religion and politics in India and contribute to open data initiatives.

While much work on religion and politics in India aims to understand Hindu-Muslim riots, engineered by politicians who exploit communal prejudice for electoral gain, and in the process tends to treat Muslim Indians as a monolithic block, my research pays closer attention to religio-political dynamics within religious communities and asks how these intersect with growing aspirations for 'development'. My first monograph on ambivalence and ambiguity in Gujarat for instance studied the production of peace (rather than violence) by showing how both developmentalist and faith-based activists link political protest to religious ideas and communal belonging in a post-conflict setting. Through subsequent publications, I revealed the fallability of instrumental calculations in fluid religio-political contexts and demonstrated how Muslims' electoral choices mirror those of non-Muslims, varying across time and space in response to local demography and political history. Most recently, I intervened in the heated debate on Muslim 'ghettos' in Indian cities, arguing that these are not necessarily the straightforward product of communal violence - as has been assumed so far - but that financial and social pull factors equally contribute to residential clustering. To support this view, I demonstrated how a socially segmented bureaucracy structures the political economy of urban development and how certain kinds of local knowledge determine how built reality is perceived, navigated and marked as 'ghettoized' - irrespective of actual degrees of segregation.

My overarching aim with all of this is to lift the study of Muslim South Asia, which has long been caught in ideological readings and a partition- or at least violence-centric perspective, to the same level of theoretical as well as, crucially, methodological sophistication that characterizes the study of non-Muslim sociality. In the long run, studying how Muslim Indians navigate wider social change within the context of the world's largest secular democracy should also help to rebut persistent claims of Muslim exceptionalism in global academic as well as popular discourse.