In January 2024, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced the University of Michigan will receive $210,000 to support four research and writing fellowships, including U-M History Associate Professor Farina Mir’s project, Genres of Muslim Modernity: Being Muslim in Late-Colonial India, 1858–1947. Mir also serves as a faculty associate for the university’s Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS)

“I’m grateful for the grant as it will allow me to focus singularly on my upcoming book for a year,” says Mir. “It is meaningful to receive the affirmation of colleagues that this research can contribute to South Asian history and the humanities, more broadly.”

“My book examines Urdu literature's akhlaq (ethics) genre, which circulated broadly through print in late-colonial India. I use akhlaq to help us think about Muslim modernity in South Asia. This research stems from my earlier work on Punjabi print culture in the same period. Socio-religious reform was an important context for that work, particularly the impact of reform on religious identity. Akhlaq literature has been marginal to our understanding of modern Muslim identity in South Asia; I think it has important histories to tell.”

Mir’s earlier work, The Social Space of Language: Vernacular Culture in British Colonial Punjab (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), was published in the prestigious South Asia Across the Disciplines book series and won two prizes: the John F. Richards Prize in South Asian History from the American Historical Association for best book in South Asian history, and the Bernard S. Cohn book prize from the Association for Asian Studies, for the best first book on South Asia across disciplines.

Mir was born in Kenya in a family that had migrated two generations earlier but maintained strong connections to India. As a child, she lived and was educated in the United Kingdom and the United States. Mir attended Barnard College, where she developed her interests in literature and South Asian history, majoring in English and Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. She has a PhD in history, with distinction, from Columbia University and was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities and in the Asian Studies Department at Cornell University. Before joining U-M, Mir was an assistant professor of history at the University of Virginia. 

“I was pleased to join U-M’s History Department in 2003,” adds Mir. I’m surrounded by wonderful colleagues who, through their example, push me to be a better historian. I also have the pleasure of teaching amazing graduate and undergraduate students.”

Mir is very committed to teaching at the undergrad and grad levels. She teaches various courses at the University of Michigan, including a co-taught introductory course on the discipline of History, “History 101: What is History?” Mir's South Asian history offerings include undergraduate survey courses on “The History of Modern India and Pakistan,” “The History of Islam in South Asia,” and an undergraduate seminar on the Partition of India. She also teaches a “Writing Violence: History, Literature, and Film” course for LSA’s Honors Program. Mir also regularly teaches a graduate colloquium entitled “Islam in Motion” on the history of Islam on the Indian Subcontinent.

While at UM, she has received three teaching awards from the College of Literature, Science and Arts (LSA): the Matthews Undergraduate Teaching Award (2017) for excellence in the teaching of early undergraduate students, the Excellence in Education Award (2013), and the Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award (2010). Mir is also the recipient of a  John H. D’Arms Faculty Award for Distinguished Graduate Mentoring in the Humanities from Rackham Graduate School (2022), and she has served on the Council of the American Historical Association and the South Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies.