Harini Kumar

Postdoctoral Research Associate
116 Dickinson Hall

Harini Kumar is a postdoctoral research associate at the M.S. Chadha Center for Global India and the Department of History. She is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research focuses on Islam and Muslim societies in contemporary India, with further regional interests in Southeast Asia and the Americas. Her scholarship lies at the intersection of lived religion, kinship, gender, ethics, the built environment, and migration. Her current book project, titled “Formations of Tamil Islam: Belonging, Place, and Historical Consciousness in South India,” examines the lived experience of Tamil-speaking Muslims within the broader context of Hindu nationalism. At the same time, this research asks how we can understand contemporary Muslim life outside the shadow of a Hindu majoritarian and nationalist discourse.

Harini's second project connects South India, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. It traces present-day continuities with older logistical networks of trade, indentureship, and migration, providing new perspectives on religious belonging that emerges from an interconnected ocean space. This project has received pilot funding from the Center for Islam in the Contemporary World, Shenandoah University, and the Program in Latin American Studies at Princeton University.

At Princeton, Harini is working on a project called “Power, Inequality, Dissent,” a cross-disciplinary initiative among Princeton specialists in South Asian Studies that seeks to explore the generation and negotiation of political vocabularies in a range of quotidian sites.  

Harini received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2022. Her research has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and by several programs at the University of Chicago.

Harini is also a co-PI in a multi-year, collaborative research project, "Logistics in the Making of Mobile Worlds," funded by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago. She manages the multi-platform social media campaign, ‍#Logistics in the Time of Covid, that documents logistical disruptions to social life during the COVID-19 pandemic and showcases diverse audiovisual forms of representation.

Area of Interest
Material Culture
21st Century