John Thomas is the Charles Wallace India Trust Visiting Fellow, 2019-20. He is an Assistant Professor of History at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Guwahati, Assam. Much of his research has been on the history of Christian missions, religious conversions and the role of religion in the formation of cultural and political identities in South Asia. More specifically, he has worked on the role played by the missionaries, the church, and the colonial and post-colonial states in promoting and sustaining a particular understanding of Christianity, and the impact that had on the formation and character of Naga nationalism in India’s Northeast – a subject that was comprehensively covered in his book entitled: Evangelising the Nation: Religion and the Formation of Naga Political Identity, Routledge, 2016.
As the Charles Wallace India Trust Visiting Fellow, 2019-20, he is currently revisiting an earlier research he had done on the relationship between caste, agrestic slavery and the shifting perspectives of missionaries on labour in 19th century Central Travancore. It seeks to examine to the differences and debates among the missionaries on questions of caste and slavery, the extent to which the concerns and agendas of the abolitionist movement in Europe and North America had a bearing on how missionaries identified, represented and redressed slavery in Travancore; and the important role played by local and women missionaries in addressing questions of caste and slavery.
Vineet Thakur is the Smuts Visiting Fellow for 2019-2020 and a University Lecturer at the Institute for History, Leiden University. His research interests are in postcolonial approaches to International Relations (IR), disciplinary histories of IR, and diplomatic histories of India and South Africa. He has held fellowships at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study and the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study, and has previously taught at Ambedkar University (Delhi) and SOAS (UK). He is the author of South Africa, Race and the Making of International Relations, (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020 – co-authored with Peter Vale), Postscripts on Independence: Foreign Policy Discourses in India and South Africa (Oxford University Press, 2018) and Jan Smuts and the Indian Question (University of KwaZulu Natal Press, 2017).
As the Smuts Visiting fellow, Vineet is finishing a biographical study of the Indian liberal leader, V.S. Srinivasa Sastri (1869-1920). This book focuses specifically on Sastri’s years as India’s roving ambassador in the 1920s.