I have taught a diverse range of undergraduates and graduate courses at many different levels. This is in part because the JHU Department of Anthropology is small and my colleagues and I teach widely to cover the needs of students. My research also has some span, which has enabled me to teach on different topics, ranging from religion to nature, Pakistan to Bangladesh, cityscapes to rural ecologies (see Curriculum Vitae). All my teaching has been informed by the understanding that teaching is a privilege and a responsibility. In times of political crisis and more generally, I have yielded this responsibility to make students aware of themselves as historical subjects and critical agents co-extant with others in the world. At the same time, anthropology's mode of political engagement has always struck me as most compelling when it approaches issues transversally, slowing down thought, encouraging untimely meditations. An instance of how I have tried to think the two imperatives together is the Methods course I taught anthropology majors. As the course came after the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore, I decided to teach students relevant methods to study their own institution, Johns Hopkins University, to understand the city from the vantage that the university occupies and to understand Hopkin's position within the city. Anticipating that the 2016 election results might be disruptive, I designed an Invitation to Anthropology course on power and marginality and the possibility of critique alongside activism.
Fretting that my turn to researching and teaching about climate change not negate the scholarly perspectives I had developed through my prior research on religious life and spiritual striving, I taught a course on Religion and Ethics that arrived at the ethical imperative to engage climate change from the terms that this literature gave itself. My research assistant and doctoral student Swayam Bagaria and I crafted a paper on how to teach about climate change based on what we learnt in this class, which was published in the volume on Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities (2016).
Teaching is also an important part of my scholarly work as it is the way in which I best learn. Student engagement with my ideas and analysis is crucial to ensuring that thinking does not grow insular. That means teaching has to be done so as to empower students to be one's interlocutors, conversants and collaborators. Andrew Brandel, a doctoral student and now teaching faculty at Harvard University, and I worked together to design and co-teach a class on Romantic Anthropology, bringing together our respective engagements with literature and nature with anthropology theory and ethnography. This was a novel pedagogic experiment that paved the way for future productive collaborations.