Welcome. I am an anthropologist working at the intersections of the material and the symbolic, of the biocultural and political economy, and of culture, cognition and practice.
My key research and teaching foci fall into three domains with my field research sites in India.:
- group formation & inequalities (caste, race);
- culture, identity, practices (community, variation, transmission);
- development (sanitation, domestic work, indebtedness, livelihoods).
I am a Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Community and Social Justice at William Paterson University of New Jersey , USA. Most of my students are first-generation college goers, a large proportion are new immigrants, a majority are minoritized, and a majority work at least one job – making my job as exciting as it is challenging, and with the classroom being a place for keeping me grounded in reality.
My journey to anthropology has been from the bilges of Indian merchant naval ships as a marine engineer, through corporate cubicles as a software developer in the USA. While sailing the seas taught me the dignity of labor, and on power, hierarchy and work within enclosed spaces, my stint in software development gave me glimpses into racialized workforces and technological change. Neither equipped me however, to answer my dimly articulated questions but long-felt concerns about inequalities and historical subjectivities in social life. The move to anthropology enabled me to craft sustained research interests around social change, power and inequalities, difference/identities, culture/cognition, and globalization/development. My research projects interweave these concerns with public engagement.
Currently, I am completing a book project on the ways that technology and social policies shape human behavior and collective action. The book is a collaborative project with my colleague and political economist, Dr. Suraj Jacob, and long-term field collaborator Ajay T.G. It is based on field research on toilets – their construction as part of a state policy of sanitation in India, the ways that ordinary villagers negotiate toilets as a cultural and political artifact, and the ways that collecitve practices of defecation (open or toilets) transform. The book is tentatively titled Toilet Theory .