Skip Navigation
The earth at night, viewed from a satellite.

Johns Hopkins University logo

Department of Anthropology
Krieger School of Arts and Sciences | University Calender | University News | Search JHU   


About the Department

Undergraduate Program

Graduate Program


Course Descriptions

Calendar of Events

People Directory

Contact Information

Additional Resources

Argot Research Journal

Search Anthropology

Anthropology JHU

Department of Anthropology
The Johns Hopkins University
404 Macaulay Hall
3400 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218

Phone 410-516-7272
Fax 410-516-6080


Anand Pandian
Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies
PhD, UC Berkeley, 2004

Phone: (410) 516-7267
Office: Macaulay 111
Office Hours: Tuesdays, 1:30pm-3:30pm
Curriculum Vitae: PDF

Twitter @anandspandian


philosophical and ecological anthropology / posthumanist and postcolonial criticism / sensory ethnography / experimental writing / anthropological method / India / America / Earth

Recent Courses

Ecological Anthropology -- The Comparative Tradition in Anthropology -- Invitation to Anthropology -- Ecology and Perception -- Cinema and Ethnography -- Ethnographic Writing -- Encountering Experience -- Anthropology of Media -- Anthropology and Fiction -- Philosophical Anthropology -- Creative Expression


My work concerns the ecological horizons of human aspiration. The tension between these spheres, human and ecological, seems to have reached a breaking point. And yet it remains the case that human being owes its openness and malleability to environmental elements and relations of countless kinds. The sudden cry of a songbird, an ominous hum in the air, the tug of an image on a screen: these things of the world, in all their force and frailty, are knotted into the architecture of our minds and bodies. Such convolutions -- inside and outside, matter and spirit, human and nonhuman -- challenge us to set aside the distinction between object and method, and to try instead to think with the unpredictable life of the worlds in which we find ourselves. Anthropology can help with this task, for it is, most simply, a science of experience, a continuous deflection of thought through the vicissitudes of earthly life.

Over the last decade or so, I've had the chance to pursue a few such experiments in living and thinking with others. A forthcoming book based on years of fieldwork with Tamil filmmakers, artists, musicians, and craftsmen, Reel World: An Anthropology of Creation grapples with the turbulent ecology of creative process. Ayya's Accounts: A Ledger of Hope in Modern India (2014) takes my grandfather's life in Burma and India as an aperture for a century of tremendous aspiration and upheaval. Crooked Stalks: Cultivating Virtue in South India (2009) explores postcolonial landscapes, and the ethical lives of those who tend them, as fields of moral and agrarian cultivation. A new project will focus on plastic and plasticity as the stuff of contemporary dreams and nightmares, with fieldwork planned for urban, industrial, and laboratory environments in the United States and beyond. 

Claude Levi-Strauss says that structuralism first struck him one Sunday afternoon in 1940, as he was lying in a patch of grass and contemplating the seedheads of a dandelion. I can't think of a better image for the wildly collaborative nature of anthropology, which seems always to be drifting along from place to place with stowaway friends and ideas. Under review is a book of ventures in "Literary Anthropology," based on a workshop that I organized with Stuart McLean at the School of American Research in 2013. I worked closely with Tamil film director M. Sasikumar to publish an English translation of his pathbreaking screenplay Subramaniyapuram in 2014, accompanied by a series of critical essays. I co-edited Ethical Life in South Asia (2010) with medieval historian Daud Ali, while Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference (2003) was co-edited with Donald Moore and Jake Kosek. I also serve on the Executive Board of the Society for Cultural Anthropology.

Recent News

Articles and Essays

© The Johns Hopkins University. All rights reserved.