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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dr Parvathi Raman

BA (Anthropology and History) PhD (London)


Parvathi Raman
Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Centre for Media Studies

Associate Member, Centre for Media and Film Studies

SOAS South Asia Institute

Academic Staff, SOAS South Asia Institute

Centre for Gender Studies


SOAS Food Studies Centre

Member, SOAS Food Studies Centre

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

Chair, Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

Dr Parvathi Raman
Email address:
020 7898 4434
020 7898 4699
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Office Hours:
Wednesdays 11am-1pm or by Appointment


I am an anthropologist and historian and I conduct research on the South Asian diaspora, in both historical and contemporary contexts. I am interested in the emergence of diasporic consciousness and forms of political subjectivity amongst diverse South Asian migrant populations, primarily in South Africa and postwar Britain.

I joined the Anthropology department at SOAS in the early 1990s and have taught a range of course covering theoretical and philosophical issues in anthropology and approaches to migration and diaspora studies. I developed our MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies, which we began in 2003, and am the current Director of Studies.

In 2007 I initiated the SOAS Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, which coordinates migration related research and teaching across the school, organises seminars and lectures, and builds national and international collaborative networks. I am the current chair of the Centre.

I am also the SOAS coordinator of the Marie Cure Initial Training Network research project, CoHaB, Diasporic Constructions of Home and Belonging.


Programmes Convened
Courses Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Anne-Line Rodriguez, The closure of European borders and mobility in Senegal
  • Carrie Ann Benjamin, Urban renewal and belonging in working-class Paris.
  • Eva Bentcheva, Performance Art and the Idea of 'India' in the Diasporic Imagination: The Cultural-Politics of British South Asian Live Art, 1960-90
  • Lennon Chido Mhishi, Songs of Migration: Experiences of Music, Place Making and Identity Negotiation amongst Zimbabwean Migrants in London
  • Matthew John FISH,
  • Mikal Woldu, Transnational ties and identity construction among Eritrean youth living in the diaspora.
  • Nadeem Karkabi, Neither Victims nor Heroes: Politics of Pleasure, Ethics of Resistance and Defiant Subjectivities at the Palestinian Alternative Music Scene in Israel and the West Bank.
  • Nydia Swaby, Gendering Political Blackness: The Diasporic Dimensions of Black Women’s Politics and Activism
  • Portia Owusu, Spectres from the Past: the Politics of Memory and Slavery in contemporary Ghanaian, Nigerian and African-American literature
  • Sarah Elsing, The Thai-Lao border as a contested space – An ethnography of small-scale cross-border trade (working title)
  • Shirley N. A. Sackey, Collective Agency: Transnational Social Organization Amongst Ghanaians in London and New York
  • Thomas van der Molen, Navigating Sovereignties: Social Navigation among Young Undocumented Tibetans in Nepal
  • Špela Drnovšek Zorko, Intergenerational narratives of former Yugoslavia in Britain: diaspora, post-socialism, and 'home' (provisional).


In my original research, I studied the historical background to the construction of ‘Indianness’ in South Africa up until 1952, where the idea of community was evoked through reinscibing cultural traditions brought from India, as well as being shaped by the new ways of life that developed in South Africa. In particular, I looked at why a small but significant group of Indian South Africans joined the South African Communist Party. I considered the ways that sections of the Indian community were radicalised through fighting for democratic rights and citizenship in South Africa, and the complex social, cultural and political influences that were woven into new forms of resistance in their social landscape.

I also traced the emergence of a ‘diasporic’ consciousness at certain points in time in this history. I looked to the role of political figureheads such as Gandhi and Yusuf Dadoo and their part in the overcoming of difference in the diverse South Asian population, bringing to the fore collective identifications and ‘diasporic recognition’.

I continued my research on political figureheads in a study of Che Guevara and the transnational socialist imaginary, where I looked to changing ideas of utopia in political iconography.

I have subsequently worked on ideas of political subjectivity in diasporic communities in Britain, and ideas of home and belonging as expressed through migrant culinary practices.

My current research project is a study of South Asian communities in postwar Britain and their relationship to cricket, where I explore how a love of the game for many South Asians, and attachments to homeland teams, has fuelled continuing bonds to a home ‘elsewhere’ across the generations, as well as shaping the politics of community formation in Britain.


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For all press and media enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7898 4135 or email comms@soas.ac.uk

Available for
Regional Expertise
  • Africa
  • South Asia
Country Expertise
  • India
  • South Africa


Edited Books

West, Harry G. and Raman, Parvathi, eds. (2008) Enduring Socialism: Explorations of Revolution and Transformation, Restoration and Continuation. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Book Chapters

Raman, Parvathi and West, Harry G. (2008) 'Poetries of the Past in a Socialist World Remade.' In: West, Harry G. and Raman, Parvathi, (eds.), Enduring Socialism: Explorations of Revolution and Transformation, Restoration and Continuation. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 1-28.

Raman, Parvathi (2008) 'Signifying Something: Che Guevara and neoliberal alienation in London Parvathi Raman and Ian Harper (eds.).' In: Raman, Parvathi and West, Harry G., (eds.), Enduring socialism: explorations of revolution and transformation, restoration and continuation. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 250-270.

Raman, Parvathi (2006) 'Being Indian the South African Way: The Development of Indian Identity in 1940s' Durban.' In: Coombes, A. E., (ed.), Rethinking Settler Colonialism. History and Memory in Australia, Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand and South Africa. Manchester University Press, pp. 193-208.

Raman, Parvathi (2005) 'Yusuf Dadoo: a son of South Africa.' In: Dubow, S and Jeeves, A, (eds.), South Africa in the 1940s: worlds of possibilities. UNSPECIFIED.


Raman, Parvathi and Harper, Ian (2008) 'Less Than Human? Diaspora, disease, and the question of citizenship.' International Migration, 46 (5). pp. 3-26.

Raman, Parvathi (2004) 'Yusuf Dadoo: transnational politics, South African belonging.' South African Historical Journal .

Raman, Parvathi (2003) 'A Resting Place for the Imagination? In Search of the 'Authentic' Diasporic Subject.' Himal South Asian, 16 (9). pp. 22-30.

This list was generated on Wed Apr 1 00:33:04 2015 BST.