Kartik Maini

Kartik M.
Pronouns: they/them/theirs
Cohort Year: 2020
Research Interests: Asceticism & South Asian religions; social & intellectual history; philosophy in Sanskrit/Persian & the vernaculars; Indian Ocean history; queer studies; philology & book history
Education: M.A., University of Delhi, 2020


I am interested in histories of asceticism & ascetic self-fashioning in South Asia, with an eye towards tracing their emergent worldliness in early & late/colonial modernity. My doctoral project considers how asceticism or renunciation, far from being a flight from the world, became a way of intervening in it. I research the ways in which ascetical sensibilities crystallised into a shared conceptual resource animating the lives and labours of saṃnyāsīs, Sufis, kings, merchants, scribes, and other variously situated social actors. My sources are multilingual (Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, and increasingly, Persian) and transregional, with a special emphasis upon histories of the western Indian Ocean.  My work interweaves philology and social history, as well as other abiding academic preoccupations: South Asian philosophy (Advaita Vedānta) in Sanskrit & the vernaculars, book history & translation studies, religious difference and the entangled histories of ‘Hinduism’ & ‘Islam’, gender & queer studies, discourses of embodiment & emotion, and constructions of caste before & beyond the ostensible watershed of colonial knowledge-formation. I also retain a long-standing interest in efforts to remake queer theory from the Global South; in my own work, I try to bring ‘queer’ questions to bear upon the study of asceticism and South Asia’s premodern pasts.

At The University of Chicago – as of the 2023-24 academic year – I teach Hindi, Sanskrit, and in the Writing Program. I regularly correspond with prospective applicants & students about the vagaries of graduate school, and will be happy to hear from – and assist – anybody interested, especially international and/or BIPOC students.


Co-organiser of the Nineteenth South Asia Graduate Student Conference (SAGSC), The University of Chicago (2022): Popular Aesthetics in South Asia – Sensing, Consuming, Appraising Aesthetic Forms


Pronouns: they/them/theirs



M.A., University of Delhi, 2020

B.A., St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, 2018