Akshaj completed their studies at Ashoka University in India with a major in History and a summa cum laude distinction in 2022. In addition to their major, they completed two minors in Visual Arts (History of Art) and Creative Writing (Literary Translation). During his undergraduate studies, Akshaj conducted art historical research for his final-year thesis on the arts of the book in the early modern Deccan region of South Asia, with a specific focus on the Asaf Jahi state of Hyderabad during the reign of Mir Nizam Ali Khan, Asaf Jah II. A portion of this research was published in Qurbatein: A Gender and Sexuality Bi-Annual. They also translated a selection of short stories by one of Hyderabad’s pioneering 20th century women writers, Wajida Tabassum, from Urdu into English. In 2023, Akshaj was a finalist for the inaugural Armory-Square Prize for South Asian Literature in Translation for their ongoing translation of the author Nasera Sharma’s newest novel into English.
While reading for his MPhil in Islamic Art and Architecture at Oxford, Akshaj intends to further explore histories of Islamic art in the Deccan region and the Ottoman Empire during the early modern period. They aim to situate their research in a larger ongoing scholarly shift within the discipline of Islamic and South Asian art history to examine the arts of regional Islamicate polities previously marginalised in relation to larger empires such as the Mughals and the Ottomans.
Academic interests aside, Akshaj likes learning languages for the sake of learning them, and speaks eight to various levels of proficiency — which is one of the reasons they love literary translation. He admires good poetry, fiction and cinema across languages, ranging from the works of Federico García Lorca, Forough Farrokhzad, Daleep Kaur Tiwana, Usha Priyamvada, Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar-wai.
They are extremely grateful to the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme for giving them the opportunity to study at Oxford and providing them with a dynamic scholarly community.