Amanda Lanzillo is a historian of South Asia, researching artisanship and experiences of labor, technology, and social change within Indian Muslim communities. Her research analyzes the intersections of British colonial claims on technological change, South Asian conceptions of industrial modernity, and changing articulations of Islamic artisanal heritage.
While at Princeton, she will prepare her book manuscript, tentatively titled “Manufacturing Islamic Modernity: Muslim artisans and industrial change in colonial India.” The book focuses on the efforts of Muslim artisans to integrate technical practices rooted in British colonial preferences with a perceived Islamic heritage for artisan trades. Lanzillo’s research tells the stories of South Asian Muslim artisans not as passive recipients of colonial conceptions of industrial modernity, but as unequal but adaptive participants who articulated new ideals about the role of religion in labor. Centering Urdu- and Persian-language artisan handbooks, manuals, and histories, her book will interrogate divergences between colonial, Indian Muslim middle class, and laborer conceptions of work and religion. In addition, she is preparing two journal articles based on her interest in the vernacular-language written histories of industry and artisanship in India and Afghanistan. As a lecturer at Princeton’s Department of History, she plans to teach an undergraduate course on working class histories in South Asia in fall 2020, and a course on Islam and British colonialism in spring 2021.
Lanzillo received her Ph.D. in History from Indiana University. She completed an M.A. in Central Eurasian Studies from Indiana University, and a Bachelor’s in International History from Georgetown University. Her doctoral research was conducted primarily in small regional archives, libraries, and private collections across India. Lanzillo’s work has appeared in South Asian Popular Culture and Comparative Critical Studies, as well as in the review magazine Himal SouthAsian and the blogs of Critical Asian Studies and Ajam Media Collective. She received research fellowships from Fulbright-Hays, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the American Historical Association, and the Library of Congress, as well as from several programs at Indiana University. Her language study was supported by Critical Language Scholarships and the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship.