Looks like I finally managed to put fingers to the keyboard and begin this 5-part blog about me, my work, and this summer that I’m spending in India.
I am a doctoral student at the Department of South Asia Studies, at Penn. After finishing the first two years of coursework and writing my MA exams, I spent the last year in India, learning Tamil in Madurai at the American Institute of India Studies (AIIS). I come back this Fall to finish coursework, TA-ing, write field exams, draft and defend a prospectus – upon the successful completion of which I will go yell ‘ABD!’ from the roof of Williams Hall (if they will let me, that is). To that end, I’m spending this summer in a bunch of different cities in Tamil Nadu to carry out some preliminary archival and ‘ethnographic’ research.
My research, broadly speaking, studies the relationship between ‘religion’ and ‘politics’ in early modern South Asia, and less broadly speaking, tries to reinterpret the place of Islam, especially Sufi Islam, in Tamil south India. It tries to do so by revisiting the archives – but colonial and otherwise – that relate to the site of Nagore, located on the Coromandel coast in Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu. The plan, therefore, is to visit the Tamil Nadu State Archives in Chennai, the Tanjore District Records Office and the Saraswati Mahal Library in Tanjore, make another trip to Nagore itself, and finally end up in Pondicherry to use the bibliographic resources of the French Institute atPondicherry. It is going to be, and has already been, a hectic 8 or 9 weeks, and the weather is just not helping.
But more on that and the actual research experience in my next post, for now let me just say this much: the mangos are worth it all!
And here’s an old Dutch map of peninsular India: