Pious Labor: Islam, artisanship, and technology in colonial India

My first monograph, Pious Labor (UC Press, 2024), analyzes colonial-era social, economic, and technological change in north India through the perspectives of Muslim workers and artisan laborers. The book centers the stories and experiences of Muslim metalsmiths, stonemasons, tailors, press workers, and carpenters across urban north India. It provides an in-depth analysis of vernacular-language sources, including technical manuals and community histories, that were produced by members of working class and artisan communities.

The book builds on research that I conducted in underutilized local archives in India and Pakistan. My work has been supported by grants from the American Institute of Indian Studies, the Fulbright Hays Program, the American Historical Association, the Library of Congress, and other funders. During my research, I identified Urdu- and Persian-language manuals on practices ranging from electroplating to stonemasonry to sewing, which form the backbone of my project. 

Peripheral Subjects: Pashtun migration, Islam, and subjecthood across the British Empire

My planned second monograph, currently in the research stage, is a history of Pashtun labor migration in British India and elsewhere in the British Empire. I trace the experiences of communities of Pashtun migrants from Afghanistan and the Indo-Afghan frontier who worked and established communities across the empire's industrializing cities and towns.

The project analyzes how colonial and post-colonial states policed migration. I argue that in their attempts to identify, control, and deport migrants, colonial administrators made borders productive of identity and belonging. The project will center migrants’ own narratives of their regional geographies and histories through Persian, Urdu, and Pashto-language materials, emphasizing how their communities challenged state geographies.