Malavika Kasturi

Associate Professor, Department of Historical Studies, UTM
Centre for South Asian Studies at the Asian Institute


Department of History, Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St. George Street


Malavika Kasturi teaches South Asian history in the Department of Historical Studies, and is graduate faculty at the Departments of History and the Centre for the Study of Religion. She completed her B.A. from Delhi University, M.A and M.Phil at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, and received her PhD at from the University of Cambridge. Dr Kasturi’s first monograph, Embattled Identities, Rajput Lineages and the Colonial State in Nineteenth Century Colonial North India (Oxford University Press, 2002) and related articles analysed the reconstitution of the family and martial masculinities amongst elite lineages in British India, against the backdrop of colonial ideologies, political culture and material realities. Her research interests include gender and households, monasticism and asceticism, social and cultural histories of Hinduism, Hindu nationalism, and urban history. She is currently finalising a book manuscript tentatively entitled ‘Producing Hindu Publics’, Sadhus, Sampraday and Hindu Nationalism in Twentieth Century India’, which explores the intersection of monasticism with a host of political bodies espousing visions of the Hindu ‘nation’. This project was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Standard Research Grant.

Dr Kasturi is also working on two other research projects. After finishing her second book manuscript, she will continue to write about various aspects of monasticism, with a particular focus on family, sexuality and asceticism. Her second project, ‘The ‘Lost’ Mughal Pensioners of Banaras: ‘Diasporic’ Families, Memory and Urban History in South Asia, 1800 to the Present’ funded by a SSHRC Insight grant (2015) studies how elite Muslim households have shaped urban space and a cosmopolitan public culture in ‘Hindu’ pilgrimage centres in recent times. Dr Kasturi’s articles have appeared in edited collections and in journals such as Modern Asian Studies, the Indian Economic Social and History Review, Studies in History and the Indian Journal of Gender Studies. She has been a research fellow at the Agrarian Studies Programme, Yale, and more recently at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, and the Centre for Contemporary Studies, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi.

Research Specialization 

Monasticism and asceticism; Gurus and charismatic leaders; Religion and the public sphere; Hindu nationalism; Gender and households; Urban history, memory, community; Historiography; Historical Anthropology



2002: Embattled Identities: Rajput Lineages and the Colonial State in Nineteenth Century North India, Oxford University Press, Ist edition.


2018 (forthcoming): Gurus and Gifting: Dana, the Math Reform Campaign, and Hindu Sangathan in Twentieth Century India’, in special issue on Philanthropy in Modern South Asia edited by Fillipo Osella and Sumathy Ramaswamy, Modern Asian Studies, February 2018.

2015: ‘Sadhus, Sampraday and Hindu Nationalism in the Early Twentieth Century’, The Dasnamis and the Bharat Dharma Mahamandala”, Nehru Memorial Museum Library Occasional Papers, August 2015.

2010:“All Gifting is Sacred: The Sanatana Dharma Sabha Movement, Civil Society and the Reform of Dana in Late Colonial India’, Indian Economic and Social History Review, Vol. 47, No. 1, pp. 107-39, January-March 2010.

2009:“Asceticising Monastic Families”, Ascetic Genealogies, Property Feuds and Anglo-Hindu Law in Late Colonial India, Modern Asian Studies (MAS), Issue 43, No. 4, pp.1039-83, September 2009.

2000:Archive on Female Infanticide; Selections from the Records of the Government of the North Western Provinces, 1871,” Indian Journal of Gender Studies, Vol. 1, 2000, pp.125-33

Rajput Lineages, Banditry and the Colonial State in Nineteenth Century British Bundelkhand,” Studies in History, Vol. 15, No 1, pp. 75-108, 1999.

Book Chapters

2018 (forthcoming): ‘Negotiating the Sacred in Twentieth Century Gorakhpur: the Nathyogis, the Gorakhnath Math and Contested Urban Space, in Narayani Gupta and Parto Datta (eds), Urban Spaces in India, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.

2018 (forthcoming): ‘Lineages, and Emerging Exemplars and Movements’, in G. Beckerlegge (ed.), A Cultural History of Hinduism in the Age of Modernity, Bloomsbury Academic Publishing, London.

2016: “This Land is Mine’: Mahants, Civil Law and Political Articulations of Hinduism in Twentieth Century North India’, in G. Tarrabout, D. Berti and R. Voix (eds.), Filing Religion, State Hinduism and the Court, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

2013: ‘The Bandit as King, in S. Dube and A. Rao (eds.), Crime and its Forms, Oxford Themes in Indian History Series, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, March 2013 (reprint from my monograph Embattled Identities, 29 printed pages).

2012:‘The Lost and Small Histories of the City of Patronage, Poor Mughal Pensioners in Colonial Banaras’, in M. Sinclair Dodson (ed.), Banaras, Urban Forms and Cultural History, Routledge, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 110-139.

2008: ‘Masculinity and Caste in Modern South Asian History: Kinship, Gender, and the ‘Making’ of Rajputhood’. M. Juneja and M. Pernau (eds.), Religion and the Negotiation of Boundaries, V and R Unipress, Göttingen, 2008, pp. 355-73.

2007, ‘Rebellion’, in S. Dube (ed.), Part III/Communities, Historical Anthropology, Oxford In India Readings in Sociology and Social Anthropology, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2007, pp. 214-21

2003: “Taming the ‘Dangerous’ Rajput: State, Marriage and Female Infanticide, in Nineteenth Century Colonial North India”, in H. Fischer-Tiné and M. Mann (eds.), Colonialism as Civilising Mission: Cultural Ideology in British India, Anthem Press, London: 2003, pp.111-32 (22pp).

Awards and distinctions

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant (2015).

Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, August 2013- August 2015.

Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, July 2012-July 2013.

Social Sciences Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant (2008).

Agrarian Studies Post Doctoral Fellowship, Yale University (2000-01).

Indian Council of Historical Research Post Doctoral Fellowship, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, 1999-2000.

Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Fellowship, 1992-6.

University Grants Commission, Junior Research Fellowship for the M.Phil (India), 1990-2.


At the Cusp of Disciplines :Critical Approaches to Historical Anthropology (Graduate)

“Historiography From Below”: Comparative and Critical Perspectives’ (Graduate)

Introduction to South Asian History

Race and Empire in Colonial South Asia

Gender and History in Modern South Asia.

Religion and Popular Culture in Modern South Asia..

Memory, History and South Asia’s Contested Pasts..

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