Julia Stephens

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., Harvard University

M.Phil., Trinity College, Cambridge

B.A., Harvard College

At Rutgers since 2016

002G Van Dyck Hall

848-932-8261

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{Photo credit: Roy Groething}

RESEARCH INTERESTS

My research focuses on how law has shaped religion, family, and economy in colonial and post-colonial South Asia and in the wider Indian diaspora. I am currently completing a book manuscript entitled Governing Islam: Law, Empire, and Secularism in South Asia (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). The book moves between official archives of colonial law and wider spheres of public debates, bringing into conversation vernacular pamphlets and newspapers, Urdu fatwas, colonial legal cases, and legislative deliberations. Drawing on these wide-ranging legal archives, Governing Islam explores how colonial law constructed a new religious/secular binary that was deeply influential, and vibrantly contested inside and outside colonial courts.

Alongside my book manuscript, I am working on a new project on inheritance and diasporic Indian families, tentatively entitled Worldly Afterlives: Death and Diaspora in the Indian Ocean. The project traces the lives of Indian migrants—sailors, petty moneylenders, female merchants, and even circus performers—by looking at the assets they left behind after their deaths. These estates ranged from mercantile fortunes to a few treasured personal effects, including letters, jewelry, or a pocketful of receipts for small debts owed by fellow travelers. Relatives in India and abroad struggled to navigate complex international bureaucracies in order to track down information about long-lost relatives and the property they left behind. This archive provides a window into the intersecting histories of diasporic families and the formation of state bureaucracies for managing global flows of labor and capital. In the coming years this research will take me to India, South Africa, Zanzibar, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

My teaching includes surveys on modern South Asia and political Islam, and more specialized seminars on Islamic law, postcolonial and subaltern theory, and diasporic family histories. Before coming to Rutgers, I taught at Yale, Cambridge, and Harvard.

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SELECTED GRANTS AND FELLOWSHIPS