Maria is a sixth-year PhD candidate at Princeton’s Department of Religion. Her research investigates the relationship between Islamic modernism and religious identity in colonial north India by focusing on the history of the Anjuman-i Himayat-i Islam Lahore (Society for the Defense of Islam, est. 1884), the largest and most successful Muslim voluntary association in the wider region. By looking at its educational and welfare institutions, most importantly its schools, colleges and orphanages, her thesis aims at contributing to discourses about Islam and modernity and how both of them come together in the historical and intellectual genealogy of Pakistan as a modern Muslim nation-state. Her argument is based on the analysis of rare sources in Urdu in Persian that have remained largely untapped so far, collected at public and private archives in Pakistan, including the Anjuman’s meeting minutes, proceedings, annual reports and monthly newsletters. This is complemented with sources from university and state archives in Germany, Britain, the US, and Canada.
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, and some pleasant spring months, in Pakistan on archival work and language studies.
Maria also gets passionate about civic and human rights education, with a focus on countering Islamophobia, arthouse movies, and American folk & bluegrass music.