I am a historian of French empire, specializing in the history of French India in the eighteenth century. My book, titled The Nayiniyappa Affair: Commerce, Conversion, and a Colonial Scandal in French India, is both a global history and a local history. The Nayiniyappa Affair, forthcoming from Cornell University Press, offers a comprehensive analysis of the competing French projects of trade and religion in the Indian Ocean at the turn of the eighteenth century. At the same time, it reveals how the life of one man – Nayiniyappa, the most senior Indian employee in the French colony of Pondicherry – was tragically upended by his enmeshment in the imperial project.
My training was interdisciplinary, and I received a PhD in Anthropology and History from the University of Michigan. I am a member of the History department at Virginia Tech, and Core Faculty in the ASPECT program, an interdisciplinary PhD program. Prior to my academic career I was a journalist, and worked as a news-desk editor in a large daily newspaper.