I am a historian of French empire, specializing in the history of French colonialism in India from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. My first book, titled A Colonial Affair: Commerce, Conversion, and Scandal in French India, is both a global history and a local history. A Colonial Affair, published in September 2017 by 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. I am currently working on a book titled A World at Court: Law and French Empire in the Indian Ocean, which charts how different modes of resolving disputes were enacted and transformed in French colonial courts. Research for this project has been supported by a Social Science Research Council Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.
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.