Feminist movements, gender studies, sectarian violence, Medical Anthropology, post-Colonial and post-Structural theory; South Asia, Europe
The abiding concerns of my research have been to understand the working of long time cultural logics in contemporary events as well as moments of rupture and recovery. My first book showed how one may address this through an examination of texts produced in local communities in which myth and history were embedded in each other. I have often learnt from ancient, medieval and contemporary texts in Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali and Urdu either by posing these as interlocutors to some contemporary anthropological concerns or taking their voices on lease in order to traverse a different genealogy of the problem.
In recent years I have worked intensively on questions of violence, social suffering. and subjectivity. My interest in these questions stems from questions on the institutional processes through which violence and suffering are produced as well as from questions on what it is to produce testimony to these events and to oneself. If societies hide from themselves the pain which is inflicted upon individuals as prices of belonging, then how do social sciences learn to receive this knowledge? I have tried to see the intricate relations between biography, autobiography and ethnography to frame many of these questions.
Currently I am working on a project on burden of disease and health seeking behavior among the urban poor in Delhi. This work is being done in collaboration with colleagues from the disciplines of Economics and the Health Sciences in addition to anthropologists and sociologists. The collaborating institution in Delhi is the Institute of Socio-Economic Research in Development and Democracy. Presently we are trying to create a panel data for 250 households which tracks the relation between local ecology, health and family processes of decision making.
- "Structure and Cognition: Aspects of Hindu Caste and Ritual", Oxford University Press, 1977, 1982,1990, 1992, 1995, 1998.
- "The Word and the World: Fantasy Symbol and Record", Sage Publications, 1986 (Ed.)
- "Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots and Survivors in South Asia", Oxford, 1990, (Ed.) (Reissued in 1992, 1994).
- "Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India", Oxford University Press, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000.
- "Social Suffering", Special Issue of Daedalus (edited in collaboration with Arthur Kleinman and Margaret Lock). Winter, 1996. Also published as "Social Suffering", University of California Press, 1998 and Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1998.
- "Violence and Subjectivity" (co-edited), University of California Press, 2000.
- "Social Science and Immunization" (co-edited). Economic and Political Weekly. Special Issue, February 2000.