Kamini Masood ’19
High school history teacher in Lahore, Pakistan
Columbia University Ph.D. Richard Hofstadter Fellow (beginning fall 2020)


You started as an IA major and then switched to a history major. What initiated that change?

“In the fall of my sophomore year, I took a history class on Imperial Russia with Professor [Joshua] Sanborn. In that class, I realized I preferred the nuances of historical research and that I was much more interested in the questions being asked and explored in history classes. I realized that history as a discipline was the place to have all of the conversations that I wanted to have—conversations that ran the gamut from the socially constructed nature of gender to expanding definitions of imperialism. From that first class, I knew history made more sense to me.”


How did mentoring influence your thesis?

“I took my first class with Professor [Rachel] Goshgarian, ‘Middle East in the Mind of America, America in the Mind of the Middle East,’ in the spring of my sophomore year. For the duration of that course, I could be found in her office hours at all times. We made a wonderful connection that eventually led to her being my mentor and friend. We designed an independent study on postcolonial studies together. I was her WA for many courses, and when I moved into the McKelvy Scholars House, she became my faculty adviser there, as well. In my junior year, we spent a lot of time workshopping my thesis project together. She was present for all of the breakdowns and moments of hesitation, staying up late to do line-by-line edits and giving pep talks at a moment’s notice. Throughout my time at college, I rarely made decisions without consulting Professor Goshgarian beforehand, and she has gone above and beyond what is expected of professors to support me, help me grow as a student, and help me achieve my goals.” 


You’re teaching history at a high school in your hometown of Lahore, Pakistan. Was teaching something you always planned to do?

“I didn’t even think about teaching until I switched my major to history. In the history department, I was afforded a closer look at the impact that teachers can have and the importance of having invested mentors. It was this appreciation for teaching that pushed me to apply for doctoral programs. If all goes well, I intend to continue teaching after my doctorate.” 


You were accepted into Columbia University’s Ph.D. program as a Richard Hofstadter Fellow. What will be the focus of your research? 

“I’ll start my doctoral program at Columbia this fall, and I’ll be exploring the Safavid and Mughal Empires of the 16th century, and studying the cultural exchanges that took place between the two. Ultimately, I seek to study the impact that both empires had on each other’s political culture and conceptions of kingship and manhood.”

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