Dr Soumen Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of History at Presidency University in Kolkata, is the sixth recipient of the IIS Annemarie Schimmel Fellowship.
This Fellowship is awarded every three years to scholars specialising in the fields of Islamic mysticism, Sufism, and devotional literature. During her long career, Professor Schimmel published hundreds of books and articles on art, poetry, and calligraphy with a focus on Islamic theology and mysticism. The Fellowship, created in 2004, seeks to continue her legacy.
Dr Mukherjee explores the intersectionality of religion, philosophy, and mysticism in South Asia and beyond. His research interests and publications are in the fields of the religious and intellectual history of modern South Asia, with a particular focus on their global entanglements. He is the author of Ismailism and Islam in Modern South Asia: Community and Identity in the Age of Religious Internationals (Cambridge University Press, 2017), which received the 2021 Karim and Rosemin Karim Prize for its contribution to understudied areas of Ismaili studies.
Dr Mukherjee's research further explores the relationship between spirituality, religious experience, and discourses of consciousness within the rubric of ‘psy-disciplines’. This led to his guest editing, with Christopher Harding, ‘Mind, Soul and Consciousness: Religion, Science and the Psy-Disciplines in Modern South Asia’, South Asian History and Culture 9, 3 (2018), subsequently reprinted as an edited volume by Routledge (2019).
His forthcoming second monograph explores the location of spirituality and mysticism in modern Indian religio-intellectual life, with reference to their cosmopolitan transcultural links, especially since the early twentieth century. Moreover, three other edited and co-edited collections in the fields of Indic religions and philosophy, and of esoteric and mystical traditions in modern Asia are in different stages of development.
The Annemarie Schimmel Fellowship will help Dr Mukherjee further expand upon key aspects of his current research on the study of religion, religious thought, and mysticism in modern South Asia, with a special focus on select scholars, their ideas and methods, and the institutional frameworks they built or within which they navigated. His research will thus shed light on the coalescence of scholarly endeavours into fields and sub-fields (including Ismaili studies) and their historical contexts.
Dr Mukherjee says: ‘It is a great honour to receive this award. I hope that the research I undertake thanks to the Fellowship will contribute to a better appreciation of cross-cultural mystical traditions in South Asia, with a special focus on aspects of modern scholarship in this area and their broader historical context, sensitized at once to wider global flows as well as regional cultural specificities.’