I am a Ph.D Candidate in Anthropology and my dissertation "Formations of Tamil Islam: Negotiations and Contestations in Contemporary South India" focuses on the lived experience of Muslims in South India, specifically Tamil Islamic traditions and practices and how the complex relation between a religious and ethno-linguistic identity is articulated in the contemporary moment. This dissertation aims to juxtapose various narratives from the Tamil region—about oral histories, saints, landscapes, mosques, and shrines—to understand how they inform arguments and assertions about specific notions of the past and contemporary ideas of belonging in the present. By attending to devotional practices and everyday social interactions among different generations of Tamil Muslims, this dissertation, based on ethnographic research conducted in coastal and inland Tamil Nadu, examines how contemporary practices and ideas of 'Tamil Islam' are temporally mediated by both deeper genealogies of Islam in the Tamil region, as well as new notions of what ‘correct’ Islamic religiosity entails.
As a Martin Marty Center Fellow, I will be working toward completing my dissertation chapters. I look forward to the opportunity to share my writing with others Fellows across disciplines and receive feedback and critique that will be crucial to my dissertation as well as my development as a scholar. I also look forward to learning from other Fellows and their research through a mutual spirit of intellectual exchange that the MMC fosters. I strongly believe in public scholarship and engagement and I'm thrilled that the MMC also encourages scholars to think about their research beyond the Academy.