South Asian Anthropology
UIC’s sociocultural anthropology program has a very strong concentration of both faculty and students with long-term research interests in South Asia and South Asian diasporas. This makes us unique amongst departments of our size at a public research university. Our South Asianists work on a very wide range of research areas such as class and consumption, gender and sexuality, queer anthropology, politics, medical anthropology, development, cultural history, political economy and labor, infrastructures, mobilities, and migration.
South Asian Anthropology Faculty
Collectively, our faculty group has a particularly strong focus on urban South Asia and all of us engage with the connections between South Asia and other regions of the world in our research. Students with South Asia interests also regularly take courses with and work with South Asianists in other departments such as History, Art History, Gender and Women’s Studies, Global Asian Studies, Urban Planning, and English.
Tarini Bedi, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Tarini Bedi is an urban and political anthropologist who conducts her research in India and Singapore. Her research areas are broadly concerned with the relationships between urbanization and globalization, and the accompanying shifts in politics, gender, economic livelihoods, and transport infrastructures in cities of the global South. She teaches courses on and advises students on topics related to urban anthropology, labor and work, gender and social movements, urban politics, and the anthropology of transport, infrastructure, and mobilities. She welcomes inquiries and applications from graduate students interested in these areas. Prospective students are encouraged to visit Professor Bedi’s detailed website or to contact Professor Bedi with questions.
Mark Liechty, Professor of Anthropology and History
Mark Liechty has been a student of Nepali history and society for almost three decades. His early work focused on the history and contemporary dynamics of class and social organization in Kathmandu and how these developments were related to trends in mass media, consumerism, and youth culture. This work is represented in his first three books: Suitably Modern (Princeton, 2003), Out Here in Kathmandu (Kathmandu, 2010), and The Global Middle Classes (edited with Rachel Heiman and Carla Freeman, Santa Fe, 2012). He recently published a major book on Western countercultural longing and the history of tourism entitled Far Out: Countercultural Seekers and the Tourism Encounter in Nepal (Chicago, 2017). Liechty is currently working on a research/book project on the cultural history of hydropower generation in Nepal that examines how different approaches to “development” have yielded dramatically different results in terms of “capacity building” and local economic impact.
Gayatri Reddy, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Gender and Women's Studies
Gayatri Reddy is a sociocultural anthropologist and her research and teaching interests lie at the intersections of sexuality, gender, health, and the politics of subject and community-formation in India, as well as within the immigrant South Asian queer community in the U.S. Broadly, her work interrogates the contours of cultural belonging through the paradoxical dialectic of “alienation and intimacy.”
Aditi Aggarwal‘s research interests span urban anthropology, embodiment, gendered labour, and economic anthropology. She focuses on the ways in which labor is embodied, experienced, and performed, in gendered and mobile economies in Mumbai city.
Ben’s research explores the intersection of urban space, transnational mobilities, and cultural transformation. The cosmopolitan enclave of Thamel (in Kathmandu, Nepal) facilitates and reinforces particular practices of consumption, experimentation, and transgression among young, middle-class Nepalis. Through a street-corner ethnography of Thamel (and related research in London and Hong Kong), his dissertation charts the global co-production of place and identity, both within the city and across other sites of the Nepali diaspora.
Zoey is a cultural anthropology student, interested in medical anthropology, and focusing on the interface of queer/lgbtia+ communities and the mental health system in metropolitan cities in India. Her work draws on queer, feminist, post-colonial, and disability theory.
Shilpa Menon’s research interests include queer anthropology, queer cultures and networks, postcolonialisms and South Asia studies with a regional focus on south India. She has worked with queer individuals and communities in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. She aims to continue her work in Kerala as a site of non-metropolitan and regional formations of non-normative sexual and gender identity and politics. Shilpa is also c0-editor of Ala (“wave” in Malayalam), a blog on Kerala studies.
Sarah Shepherd Manandhar
Sarah’s research interests include the anthropology of cloth, identity, globalization, popular culture in Nepal.
Dipti is interested in the intersections of arts and anthropology, expressions and experiences. She looks at how the young generation make use of artistic expressions and mediums to display, perform, and curate their lived, cultural and political experiences. Her region of interest is South Asia, specifically, Nepal.
Themal is a sociocultural anthropologist who studies how gender-sexual discourses circulate in various economies – material, moral, sexual, relational – in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan diaspora, and how negative space (e.g. inaction, absence, ambiguity) is produced and managed in such flows. He is particularly interested in working in the intersections of postcolonial studies and queer theory in order to explore how sexual subjects and subcultures conform to, contest, dilute, and are inflected by narratives of ethnicity, nationalism, transnational capital, and rural-local positions.
My research is based on the study of urban spaces and the intersections between “public” and “private” spaces produced through everyday performances of the self. I am specifically interested in how middle-class subjectivities are produced through idioms of masculinity within the context of Urban North India.
Dylan Lott, PhD 2016
Dissertation Topic: From Interiority to Inner Territory: Tibetan Buddhism, Neuroscience and the Politics of Representation
Current Position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin-Madison
In his dissertation he examined the continuing dialogue between Buddhists and Western scientists and how this encounter has helped shape contemplative research, Tibetan Buddhist monastic education, and the unfolding collaboration between them.
Rahul Chandrashekar Oka, PhD 2008
Dissertation Topic: Resilience and Adaptation of Trade Networks in East African and South Asian Port Polities, 1500-1800 C.E.
Current Position: Ford Family Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame
Department of Art and Art History
Department of History
Department of History and Department of English
Department of English
College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs
Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Global Asian Studies
American Institute of Indian Studies
Critical Language Studies
University of Chicago Asian Languages and Civilizations
SASLI at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
American Institute of Indian Studies Fellowships
American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) https://www.indiastudies.org/research-fellowship-programs/
Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies
Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies: http://anhs-himalaya.org/funding
American Institute for SriLankan Studies
American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies http://www.aisls.org/grants
American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS) http://www.pakistanstudies-aips.org
American Institute of Bangladesh Studies (AIBS) http://www.aibs.net