I was brought up mainly in Scotland, and was fortunate to study history at the University of Edinburgh, in the days when the UK government still provided scholarships to most students. I was the first member of my family to go to college. I had a variety of entertaining jobs while a student, including hop picking, fruit picking, barman at the Spiegeltent and Roseburn Bar, and tattie roguing.
After graduating I started a Ph.D. in History at Duke University, but after getting my Masters degree decided that Political Science was a better fit. My work still uses a lot of history though, and I periodically do archival work at places such as the National Archives of India and the British Library. I was fortunate enough to work with some great scholars while doing my Ph.D. in MIT’s Political Science Department, especially Myron Weiner and Stephen Van Evera. Donald Horowitz (Duke), a longtime mentor, generously served as an outside member of the committee.
I got my first academic job back at at Duke University, this time in its Political Science department. Duke was a terrific place to be a junior faculty member and I still have many friends in the department. In 2006, I moved to the University of Chicago, attracted by that University’s great South Asian Studies tradition, its location, and its inter-disciplinarity. But in 2009 I had the chance to move back to the east coast, to the Yale political science department. It’s a very interesting and broad department, the undergraduate and graduate students are great, and I find New Haven a very manageable and fun place to live. It’s also more inter-disciplinary than I imagined, which is a nice surprise, and I’ve been active in the Yale South Asian Studies Council and the Center for Historical Enquiry in the Social Sciences.
In the past eight years I have done a variety of administrative things in addition to my teaching and research. From 2014 to 2019 I was the Chair of the Department of Political Science. Since July 2019 I have been the Henry R. Luce Director of the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. In 2020 I was elected to the FAS Faculty Senate, but I stepped down from that in July 2021 when I was appointed Acting Dean of Social Science. I have also been on a lot of university committees, including most recently one that developed policies and approved all off-campus research during the Covid-19 pandemic.