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First Name
Last Name
Clemson University
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South Asia; India; Colonialism; British Imperial History; Religion; Politics; Intellectual History
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Personal Info

About Me


I am a College Fellow in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard. My dissertation, “Questions of Faith: Christianity, Conversion and the Ideological Origins of Political Theology in Colonial India, 1813-1907”, is the first work in forty years to examine Christian evangelism in Bengal using archival evidence from sources such as vernacular Bengali broadsheets, pamphlets, court cases, probates and newspapers at multiple archives in the UK, India and Bangladesh. It has been generally argued that it is Islam against which a Hindu majoritarian political identity took shape in British India. The secularization of a discourse of the Hindu majoritarian identity as the true bearer of the nationalist discourse, and the legitimate inheritor of the political legacies of India, did emerge through the opposition to what was forcibly constructed as the “Other” to the imagined community of Indians. However, in my research I contend that in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was the native Christian converts who acted as this oppositional “Other” to the Indian communities of faith professing Hinduism or Islam. Using the liminal figure of the Indian Christian convert and the intellectual discourses on identity-politics that emerged around this lonely and vilified figure, I demonstrate the problem inherent in a colonial sociology of knowledge, which insisted on only one religious identity that could be used in claiming certain political, social and economic rights from the colonial state. Thus, my dissertation is an intellectual and political history of the creation of the Indian political self – a self that emerged through an often-oppositional relationship with evangelical Christianity and the apologetic debates arising out of such engagements

I was the recipient of the 2013 SSRC-IDRF dissertation research fellowship which enabled me to conduct research at multiple archives in the UK, in India and in Bangladesh. I was a visiting scholar at the Centre for History and Economics at Magdalene College, Cambridge University from November to July. I returned to Harvard in August 2015.

I finished writing my dissertation in the summer of 2017, aided by the grant of a 2016-17 GSAS Dissertation Completion Fellowship (DCF) from Harvard University. I defended my thesis on 5th September 2017, and was awarded the doctoral degree in March 2018. My dissertation committee members were Professors Sugata Bose (adviser), Emma Rothschild, David Armitage and Sunil Amrith. Prof. Ayesha Jalal of Tufts University acted as the external reader and examiner for my thesis. I was a co-recipient of the History Department’s highest prize for dissertations – the Harold K. Gross Dissertation Prize, awarded to the PhD recipient whose dissertation “gives great promise of a distinguished career of historical research.”

From Fall 2018-19, I will join the History Department at Clemson University, SC, as an assistant professor.

Recent Publications

Banerjee MThe Tale of the Tailor: Munshi Mohammad Meherullah and Muslim–Christian Apologetics in Bengal, 1885–1907. South Asian Studies [Internet]. 2017. Publisher’s Version

Banerjee M“They all belong to the school of Adam Smith”: The dissemination of Adam Smith’s ideas in Calcutta in the nineteenth century. Cmbridge: Harvard University; 2015

Banerjee MChrist in the Paintings of Jamini Ray. Literature and Criticism. 2008;6 (1)

Banerjee MMilton: Parrhesiastes/Prophet. The Atlantic Critical Review. 2008;7 (3)


Media Coverage
Country Focus
India; Bangladesh; Pakistan; Afghanistan; Sri Lanka
Expertise by Geography
Asia, England, India, Southeast Asia, United Kingdom
Expertise by Chronology
18th century, 19th century, 20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Book History, Colonialism, Family, Food History, Gender, Government, Law, Libraries & Archives, Local & Regional, Migration & Immigration, Politics, Public History, Rebellion & Revolution, Religion, Rural & Agrarian History, Sexuality, Sexual Violence, Women