Maria is a sixth-year PhD candidate at Princeton’s Department of Religion. Her research investigates the relationship between Islamic modernism, education and religious identity in colonial Punjab through the work of the Anjuman-i Himayat-i Islam (Society for the Defense of Islam), the largest and most successful Muslim voluntary association in that region. By looking at the history of its educational institutions, most importantly Islamia College Lahore, and debates about religious instruction, her thesis wants to contribute to ongoing discourses about Islam and modernity and how both of them come together in the intellectual genealogy of Pakistan as a modern Muslim nation-state. Her argument is based on the analysis of hitherto untapped sources in original languages, mostly Urdu and Persian, from Pakistani, German, American and British archives that have been only insufficiently explored so far. Among the material she uses are the Anjuman’s meeting minutes, annual reports, and monthly magazines, but also Urdu biographies, colonial-era newspapers, education reports and pamphlets in vernacular languages.
Before coming to Princeton, Maria completed a master’s degree in Global and Imperial History with a focus on South Asia at the University of Oxford. She also holds a B.A. in Islamic Studies from the Free University Berlin. Since 2011, Maria has spent almost every summer in Pakistan to do fieldwork and language studies. In her freetime, Maria gets passionate about civil and human rights education, arthouse movies, and American folk & bluegrass music.