Christa Hart Raj

3rd-year Ph.D. student
Jones Hall

I am a student of South Asian religious and social history, a passion I owe to my copious time spent studying in India and my Middle East and South Asian Studies training from undergrad in Washington, D.C. At Princeton, my prospective doctoral research will examine the interactions between Islamic institutions and the British Raj in colonial South Asia, as well as the many facets of Islam in South Asia (namely syncretism between Hindu traditions, Islam, and other religious minorities).

I am interested in conducting this research through the lens of gender, hopefully elucidating the roles of women in 18th-20th century South Asian events that often remain unspoken about. This perspective reveals how women in every social strata were often on the frontlines of political decisions, rebellion, cultural production, and the transmission of news and history itself. It also demands of scholars that we take sources such as portraiture and oral history seriously in order to gain a more holistic view of Islamic identity in colonial South Asia.

Before joining the Department of Near Eastern Studies, I earned my B.A. in Global Affairs in 2019. Throughout the past five years or so, I have spent nearly every break of significant length studying language or interning in India. Most recently, I completed the 2019 Critical Language Scholarship for Hindi and a semester at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur during early 2020. My research languages include Urdu, Hindi, Persian, Arabic, German, and whatever other languages I can manage to become proficient in during my time here at Princeton.