Anne Murphy teaches in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia and is Chair in Punjabi Language, Literature and Sikh Studies. She is a cultural historian whose work focuses on the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, with interests in language and literary cultures, the history of the Punjabi language, religious community formations in contact in the early modern and modern periods, oral history, historiography, commemoration, and material culture studies. Her current book project examines the political imaginaries expressed in modern Punjabi literature across the India/Pakistan border after Partition/decolonization in 1947. In association with this project, she published a book-length translation of the short stories of Punjabi-language writer Zubair Ahmad, Grieving for Pigeons: Twelve Stories of Lahore, which came out with Athabasca University Press in 2022 (open access). Her 2012 monograph, The Materiality of the Past: History and Representation in Sikh Tradition (Oxford) examined historical representation in the Sikh tradition through texts, sites, and material culture, and she edited a book to explore related themes in the early modern and modern periods across languages and regions in South Asia (Time, History and the Religious Imagination in SouthAsia, 2011). She has also published two co-edited volumes entitled Partition and the Practice of Memory (Palgrave, 2018, with co-editor Churnjeet Mahn), and Bhai Vir Singh (1872–1957): Religious and Literary Modernities in Colonial and Post-Colonial Indian Punjab (Routledge Critical Sikh Studies Series, 2023, with co-editor Anshu Malhotra); three guest-edited or co-edited journal special issues, numerous book chapters, and articles in History and Theory, Studies in Canadian Literature, South Asian History and Culture, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, and other journals. She is currently working on a full translation of Waris Shah’s 18th century text Hīr, with reference to its earliest manuscripts. She has pursued several projects at the intersection of historical research with the arts, and engages with Oral History as a research practice; her current work along these lines documents the history of the Punjabi language in the province of British Columbia, in Canada and the history and experience of caste in Canada.
Committed to interdisciplinary and community-engaged research, she was founder and founding Lead of the UBC Interdisciplinary Histories Research Cluster at UBC (Lead 2019-2021; Associate Lead 2021-22) and served as Director of the Centre for India and South Asia Research in the Institute of Asian Research from July 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020, and before that was Co-Director from 2017-2019. She also served as Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives in the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies from 2018-2020, before returning to her faculty position for her 2021 study leave, and served on the UBC Senate, representing the Joint Faculties, from 2017-2020. She was Visiting Fellow at the Max Weber Kolleg for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies (Universität Erfurt, Germany) in 2017 and 2022.
Professor Murphy received her Ph.D. from Columbia University and her Master’s degree from the University of Washington. She previously taught in the Religious Studies and Historical Studies Concentrations at The New School in New York City, and has a professional background in pre-collegiate education and museums. She is from New York City.