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Madihah Akhter

Madihah Akhter

Modern South Asia
MA, History, Tufts University
BA, History, University of California, Los Angeles
Dissertation Title: 
In Her Own Right: Sovereignty and Gender in Princely Bhopal, 1901-1926

I am a PhD candidate specializing in the history of modern South Asia and the British empire. I received a Master’s in history from Tufts University and a Bachelor’s in history from UCLA. At Stanford, I am also completing a PhD minor in the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies program and am associated with the Abbasi Center for Islamic Studies and the Center for South Asia. My broader research and teaching interests include modern South Asia, gender, queer and transhistory, and global history. 

My doctoral dissertation, titled, "In Her Own Right: Sovereignty and Gender in Princely Bhopal, 1901-1926," explores the mutual dependencies and contestations of sovereignty between princely rulers and the imperial state in the twentieth century. Specifically, I examine princely sovereignty in Bhopal under the direction of its ruler, Sultan Jahan Begum (r. 1901-1926). Bhopal, located in central India, was the only princely state under female rule in the twentieth century and was the second largest Muslim princely state in India. In this project, I interrogate the conceptual and practical articulations of "in her own right" through gendered space, history writing, anticolonialism, symbolism and succession. My dissertation speaks to varied approaches, specifically political theory on early modern and modern sovereignty in South Asia, feminist analysis of performance and embodied sovereignties, and postcolonial scholarship on anticolonialism and nationalism.


I've designed and taught courses on modern South Asian history, Introduction to Gender and Feminist studies, Comparative Partitions, the Indian Ocean, and South Asian Immigration to the United States.

At Stanford, I have worked as a graduate mentor for the VPGE's Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) program for four years and as a Graduate Reseach and Writing Mentor, and the Residential Coordinator, for the Stanford-CCNY Exchange.