Professor David Mosse
MA DPhil(Oxon) FBA
Professor of Social Anthropology
Academic Staff, SOAS South Asia Institute
Member, SOAS Food Studies Centre
Member, Centre for Water and Development
- Professor David Mosse
- Email address:
- 020 7898 4426
- 020 7898 4699
- SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
- Russell Square: College Buildings
- Office No:
- Office Hours:
- By email appointment
David Mosse is Professor of Social Anthropology and Head of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. He studied social anthropology at Oxford University from where he received a DPhil. He has published extensively on the anthropology of religion, environment and development. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, and on the editorial boards of World Development, American Ethnologist and Journal of Development Studies. He has worked for Oxfam as Representative for South India, and
for other international development agencies as a social development adviser. He joined SOAS in
1997. He was appointed to Governing Body in September 2013.
- Comparative Studies of Society and Culture
- Culture and Society of South Asia
- Ethnography of a Selected Region - South Asia
- Issues in Psychoanalysis and Anthropology
- Perspectives On Development
- Psychoanalysis and Anthropology
PhD Students supervised
- Brendan Donegan, Spaces for negotiation and mass action: an anthropological study of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (People’s Health Movement), the National Rural Health Mission and the right to health movement in India
- Dhivya Janarthanan,
- Jas Kaur, (Working title) Ethnicity, coups and the ethnographic present in Fiji.
- Keren Bhujel,
- Murali Shanmugavelan, Everyday communicative practices of an Arunthathiyar community in Tamil Nadu, India
- Sunari Senaratne, The Post Tsunami Dynamic: 'Reconstruction' in coastal Sri Lanka
My research combines interests in the anthropology of development and activism, environmental history and natural resources management, in the anthropology of Christianity, South Asian society and popular religion. I am currently involved in a collaborative ESRC research project titled ‘Caste Out of Development: Civil Society Activism and Transnational Advocacy on Dalit Rights and Development’ examining the continuing significance of caste in contemporary development encounters and contentions in India. The attention to NGOs, networks and the cultural politics of development takes me back to my earlier career as a development worker (e.g., with Oxfam in India) and connects to continuing interest in the ethnography of aid, international development and global governance (e.g. The Aid Effect, 2005: Brokers and Translators 2006. ed with David Lewis), as well as in aid professionals and their knowledge practices (Adventures in Aidland, 2011). Such research followed on from my study of DFID policy and project practice focused on rural livelihoods development in western India (Cultivating Development, 2005).
A second research stream linked to my present work involves the study of religion and the rights of subordinated people focusing on Christianity and contemporary Dalit movements, on social action and the everyday politics of caste in south India. This builds on long-term historical and ethnographic research examining the changing relationship between Christianity and caste society, and ‘religion’ and ‘culture’ more broadly (The Saint in the Banyan Tree, 2012).
I have continuing interest in environmental history, water resources management and state-community relations (The Rule of Water, 2003), and in practical and policy issues surrounding participatory or community-driven development and labour migration (in western India). My concern is especially with the socially subordinated Dalits and Adivasis. Over the last 20 years I have combined academic anthropology with development practice. I worked as a social development adviser for DFID, as Regional Representative for Oxfam in south India, and as a rural development consultant. These interests are combined in teaching BA and MA courses on South Asian ethnography and the anthropology of development.
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- South Asia
Mosse, David (2012) The Saint in the Banyan tree: Christianity and Caste Society in India. Berkeley: University of California Press. (The Anthropology of Christianity. A Philip E. Lilienthal Book in Asian Studies)
Mosse, David (2005) Cultivating Development: An Ethnography of Aid Policy and Practice. London; Ann Arbor, MI.: Pluto Press.
Mosse, David (2003) The Rule of Water. Statecraft, Ecology and Collective Action in South India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Mosse, David, ed. (2011) Adventures in Aidland: The Anthropology of Professionals in International Development. New York; Oxford: Berghahn Press. (Volume 6, Studies in Public and Applied Anthropology)
Mosse, David and Lewis, David, eds. (2006) Development Brokers and Translators. The Ethnography of Aid and Agencies. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press.
Mosse, David and Lewis, David, eds. (2005) The Aid Effect: Giving and Governing in International Development. London: Pluto Press.
Mosse, David and Farrington, John and Rew, Alan, eds. (1998) Development as Process: Concepts and Methods for Working With Complexity. Routledge (London).
Mosse, David (2011) 'Introduction: The Anthropology of Expertise and Professionals in International Development.' In: Mosse, David, (ed.), Adventures in Aidland: The Anthropology of Professionals in International Development. Oxford & New York: Berghahn.
Mosse, David (2011) 'Social analysis as corporate product: Non-Economists/anthropologists at work in the World Bank in Washington DC.' In: Mosse, David, (ed.), Adventures in Aidland: The anthropology of professionals in international development. Oxford: Berghahn.
Mosse, David (2011) 'Aid, adivasis and aspirations for development in western India.' In: Rycroft, Daniel and Dasgupta, Sangeeta, (eds.), The Politics of Belonging in India: Becoming Adivasi. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 154-174. (Routledge Contemporary South Asia Series)
Mosse, David (2010) 'The Catholic Church and Dalit Christian activism in contemporary Tamil Nadu.' In: Robinson, Rowena and Kujūra, Josepha Mariyānusa, (eds.), Margins of Faith. New Delhi: Sage.
Mosse, David (2009) 'Christian Dalit activism in contemporary Tamil Nadu.' In: Gellner, David N., (ed.), Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia. New Delhi: Sage. (Governance, Conflict and Civic Action)
Mosse, David (2009) 'Politics and ethics: ethnographies of expert knowledge and professional identities.' In: Wright, Susan and Shore, Cris, (eds.), Policy Worlds. Oxford: Berghahn. (In Press)
Mosse, David (2009) 'The rule of water: uncertainty and the cultural ecology of water in south India.' In: A History of Water. Vol.1: Ideas of Water: Vol. 1 Ideas of Water: From Ancient Societies to the Modern World. London: I.B. Tauris.
Mosse, David (2008) 'Collective action, common property and social capital in south India: an anthropological commentary.' In: Ray, Isha and Bardhan, Pranab, (eds.), The contested commons: conversations between economists and anthropologists. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 83-106.
Mosse, David (2006) 'Possession and Confession. Affliction and Sacred Power in Colonial and Contemporary Catholic South India.' In: Cannell, F., (ed.), The Anthropology of Christianity. Duke University Press, pp. 99-133.
Mosse, David (2005) 'Global Governance and the Ethnography of International Aid.' In: Mosse, D. and Lewis, D., (eds.), The Aid Effect. Giving and Governing in International Development. Pluto Press, pp. 1-36.
Mosse, David (2004) 'Social analysis as product development: anthropologists at work in the World Bank.' In: Giri, A. and Harskamp, Avan and Salemink, O., (eds.), The development of religion / the religion of development. Amsterdam: Eburon B V, pp. 77-87.
Mosse, David (2004) 'Power relations and poverty reduction.' In: Alsop, Ruth, (ed.), Power, rights and poverty: concepts and connections. Washington DC: The World Bank, pp. 51-67.
Quarles van Ufford, P. and Giri, Ananta and Mosse, David (2003) 'Interventions in development: towards a new moral understanding of our experiences and an agenda for the future.' In: Quarles van Ufford, P. and Giri, A., (eds.), A Moral Critique of Development: In Search of Global Responsibilities. London: Routledge, pp. 3-43.
Mosse, David (2003) 'The making and marketing of particpatory development.' In: Quarles van Uffard, P. and Giri, A., (eds.), A Moral Critique of Development: In Search of Global Responsibilities. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 43-75.
Mosse, David (2001) 'Irrigation and statecraft in Zamindari south India.' In: Fuller, C. and Benei, V., (eds.), The everyday state and society in modern India. Hurst (London), Social Science Press (New Delhi), pp. 163-193.
Mosse, David (2001) 'Social Research in rural development projects.' In: Gellner, D. and Hirsch, E., (eds.), Inside organizations: anthropologists at work. Oxford: Berg Publications, pp. 1577-182.
Mosse, David (2001) ''People's knowledge', participation and patronage: operations and representations in rural development.' In: Cook, B and Kothari, U, (eds.), Participation - the new tyranny? London: Zed Press, pp. 16-35.
Mosse, David (1999) 'Responding to subordination: identity and change among south Indian Untouchable castes.' In: Campbell, J and Rew, A, (eds.), Cultural identity and affect. London: Pluto Press.
Mosse, David (1998) 'Process-oriented approaches to development practice and social research: an introduction.' In: Mosse, D. and Farrington, J. and Rew, A., (eds.), Development as Process: Concepts and Methods for Working with Complexity. London: Routledge, pp. 1-30.
Mosse, David (1998) 'Process documentation and process monitoring: cases and issues.' In: Mosse, D. and Farrington, J. and Rew, A., (eds.), Development as Process: Concepts and Methods for Working with Complexity. London: Routledge, pp. 31-53.
Mosse, David (1997) 'Honour, Caste and Conflict: The Ethnohistory of a Catholic Festival in Rural Tamil Nadu (1730-1990).' In: Assayag, Jackie and Tarabout, Gilles, (eds.), Altérité et identité. Islam et christianisme en Inde. Editions de l'Ecole de Hautes Etudes en Science, pp. 71-120.
Mosse, David (1996) 'The Ideology and Politics of community participation tank-irrigation development in colonial and contemporary Tamil Nadu.' In: Grillo, R. D. and Stirrat, R. L., (eds.), Discourse of Development: anthropological perspectives. Berg, pp. 255-291.
Mosse , David (2013) 'The Anthropology of International Development.' Annual Review of Anthropology, 42 . pp. 227-246.
Mosse, David (2012) 'Caste and Christianity.' Seminar, 633 . pp. 58-63.
Mosse, David (2010) 'A Relational Approach to Durable Poverty, Inequality and Power.' Journal of Development Studies, 46 (7). pp. 1156-1178.
Mosse, David (2008) 'Epilogue: The cultural politics of water – a comparative perspective.' Journal of Southern African Studies, 34 (4). pp. 937-946.
Mosse, David (2008) 'International policy, development expertise, and anthropology.' Focaal, 52 . pp. 119-126.
Mosse, David (2008) 'The anthropology of international institutions (Conference Report).' Anthropology Today, 24 (5). p. 24.
Mosse, David (2006) 'Anti-social anthropology? Objectivity, objection, and the ethnography of public policy and professional communities.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 12 (4). pp. 935-956.
Mosse, David (2006) 'Rule and representation: transformations in the governance of the water commons in British south India.' The Journal of Asian Studies, 65 (1). pp. 61-90.
Mosse, David and Lewis, David (2006) 'Encountering Order and Disjuncture: Contemporary Anthropological Perspectives on the Organisation of Development.' Oxford Development Studies, 34 (1).
Mosse, David (2006) 'Collective Action, Common Property, and Social Capital in South India: An Anthropological Commentary.' Economic Development and Cultural Change, 54 (3). pp. 695-724.
Mosse, David (2005) 'On the margins in the city: adivasi seasonal labour migrants in western India.' Economic and Political Weekly, 40 (28). pp. 3025-3038.
Mosse, David (2004) 'Is good policy unimplementable? Reflections on the ethnography of aid policy and practice.' Development and Change, 35(4) . pp. 639-671.
Mosse, David and Gupta, S and Mehta, M and Shah, V and Rees, J (2002) 'Brokered livelihoods: debt, labour migration and development in tribal western India.' Journal of Development Studies, 38 (5). pp. 59-88.
Mosse, David (1999) 'Colonial and contemporary ideologies of community management: the case of tank irrigation development in South India.' Modern Asian Studies, 33 (2). pp. 303-338.
Mosse, David (1997) 'The symbolic making of a common property resource: history, ecology and locality in a tank irrigated landscape in South India.' Development and Change, 28 (3). pp. 467-504.
Mosse, David (1996) 'South Indian Christians, purity/impurity and the caste system: death ritual in a Tamil Roman Catholic community.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2 (3). pp. 461-483.
Mosse, David (2007) Power and the durability of poverty: a critical exploration of the links between culture, marginality and chronic poverty. CPRC Working Paper 107, pp1-57. ISBN: 9781906433062.