I am a social anthropologist, broadly interested in forms and experiences of inequality produced through the intersection of mobility, policing, and gender in our contemporary world. I use ethnography and feminist approaches to study a range of concerns, such as: borders and borderlands, the mobility of people and goods, citizenship, refuge and neighborliness, the national security state, agrarian change, spatial history, transnational kinship, and the political economy of gendered labor. I conduct research in India and Bangladesh.
My first book, A Thousand Tiny Cuts: Mobility and Security Across the India-Bangladesh Borderlands, chronicles the slow transformation of a connected region into national borderlands and shows the foundational place of gender and sexuality in the meaning and management of threat and security in relation to mobility. This book recasts a singular focus on border fences and migrants as border-crossers and shows, instead, that postcolonial bordering materializes through multiple forms of violence and devaluation in agrarian, borderland lives. It is under contract with Atelier: Ethnography in the 21st Century, a book series at the University of California Press.
My academic writing and photo essays have been published in the American Anthropologist, Current Anthropology, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the Economic and Political Weekly, Gender, Place and Culture, among others. I also contribute podcasts, op-eds, and photo essays to engage in wider public debates on these topics.
I received my PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. Before joining NUS, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Harvard University and at the Watson Institute at Brown University. I also hold an MPhil in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford and a BA and MA in English Literature from Delhi University and Jadavpur University, respectively.
SC 2217 Travel Matters
AN 2101 Research Methods in Anthropology
SC 4880 Policing and Militarism (Selected Topics in Sociology & Anthropology)
Borders and Bodies; Space, Place and Power; Gender, Labor and Mobility; Anthropology of the State
I am conducting research on two new projects: on the gendered labors of soldiering in India and the transnational governance of labor migration through the prism of Bangladesh.
Borders and borderlands; mobility; gender and sexuality; critical security studies; ethnography of the state; transnational and postcolonial feminism; South Asia; space and value; labor studies; feminist and decolonial pedagogy.
CHAPTERS IN BOOKS
2022 “Tobacco trails: Through homes, markets and fields of northern Bengal”, in Generations: Remaking and Rethinking Bangladesh, eds. Nusrat Chowdhury and Lotte Hoek, Anthem Press.
2021 “Belonging and difference in transnational families across the Bengal borderlands” in South Asian Borderlands: Mobility, History, Affect edited by Farhana Ibrahim and Tanuja Kothiyal, New Delhi: Cambridge University Press.
EDITORIAL WORK ON JOURNALS
2019 “Introduction” to Special Section edited on Living with Surveillance. Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 39 (3).
ARTICLES IN JOURNAL
2022 “Barbed wire in the agrarian borderlands”, Current Anthropology, 63 (3).
2022 “Generations”, Feminist Anthropology, forthcoming. (co-author Megha Sharma Sehdev). Early view online https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/fea2.12095
2020 “Between Faith and Panic: Refugee Citizenship in India’s Eastern Borderlands” in a special online issue on citizenship, Political and Legal Anthropology Review.
2020 “Chor, police, and cattle: The political economies of bovine and masculine value in the India-Bangladesh borderlands”, in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 42 (6).
2019 ‘” Everything must match”: Detection, deception and migrant illegality in the India-Bangladesh borderlands’, American Anthropologist, 121 (4).
2019 “Security socialities: Gender, surveillance and civil-military relations in India’s eastern borderlands”. Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 39 (3).
2017 “Relative Intimacies: Belonging and difference in transnational families across the Bengal borderland”. Economic and Political Weekly, vol LII, no 15.
2014 “Anti-trafficking and its discontents: Women’s migrations and work in an Indian borderland”. Gender, Place & Culture, vol. 22:9, pp. 1220-1235.
2011 “Cross-border activities in everyday life: the Bengal borderland”. Contemporary South Asia, vol. 19: 1, pp. 49-60.
SHORTER ARTICLES/COMMENTS IN JOURNAL
2021 ‘American Anthropology, Decolonization, and the Politics of Location’, co-authored with Samar al-Bulushi and Madiha Tahir, American Anthropologist website.
2019 ‘Geographies of Occupation in South Asia: Possibilities of Feminist Solidarity’, a co-authored statement, Feminist Studies, 45: 2 /3.
2020 ‘The slipperiness of documents: Notes from India’s eastern borderlands’, coauthored with Radhika Moral, Border Criminologies blog at the University of Oxford.
2020 ‘Migration and Citizenship Struggles in Contemporary India’, Globally Trending, podcast of the Watson Institute, Brown University.
2019 ‘New laws weaponize citizenship in India’, coauthored with Sara Shneiderman, The Conversation, Dec 22nd, 2019.
2017 ‘Bureaucratizing “choice”: Longing, belonging, and not knowing in the India-Bangladesh exchange of enclaves, Special Issue ‘India at 70: The Many Partitions’, Café Dissensus.
2016 ‘The eddies in the boundary’, Himal Southasian, a review of Bengali film, Sankhachil, and popular representations of the legacy of Partition and contemporary politics of the India-Bangladesh border.
At NUS --
Co-organizer, Seminar Series, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Associate Member of the Asian Migrations and Inter-Asian Engagements clusters at the Asia Research Institute
Professional Service --
Board Member, Association for Feminist Anthropology
Program Committee Co-Chair, Association for Political and Legal Anthropology