Professor Sanjay Srivastava
I am an anthropologist and British Academy Global Professor. My research is primarily focused on South Asia and spans across themes of urbanism and urban cultures, consumer cultures, the new-middle classes, masculinities, and new cultures of work. I am currently involved in several individual and collaborative research projects. These include ‘Imagined Futures: Technology, Urban Planning and their Subjects at the Margins of an Indian Megapolis’; ‘Gendered Violence and Urban Transformations in India and South Africa’; ‘Religion and the City in India’; and ‘Learning from Small Cities: Governing Imagined Futures and the Dynamic of Change in India’s “Smart” Urban Age’. An interest in ethnographic film has led to collaborations with film-maker David MacDougall on ‘The Doon School Chronicles’ and ‘Kotla Walks. Performing Locality’ with Simon Wilmot.
My key publications include Masculinity and the Post-National Indian City. Neighbourhoods, Streets, Home and Consumerism (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2022); Entangled Urbanism. Slum, Gated Community and Shopping Mall in Delhi and Gurgaon (OUP, 2015); Passionate Modernity. Sexuality, Class and Consumption in India (Routledge, 2007); and Constructing Post-Colonial India. National Character and the Doon (Routledge, 1998). I also write for the print and electronic media.
Between 2012 and 2016, I was co-editor of the journal Contributions to Indian Sociology and currently serves on the editorial board of a number of journals and book series. These include American Ethnologist; Contributions to Indian Sociology; Culture, Society and Masculinities; Identities. Global Studies in Culture and Power; ‘Exploring Urban Change in South Asia’ (Springer); ‘Metamorphoses of the Political: India and the Global South’ (Cambridge University Press and ICAS:MP); and ‘Debating the Political in Contemporary India and the Global South’ (CUP and ICAS:MP)
I have also worked with government bodies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and International NGOs and provided academic analysis for gender-related policy making. I was co-author of a report for the Indian government on gendered violence and women’s safety on university campuses (The Saksham Report, 2013); Member of the Advisory Board, ‘Building Safe and Inclusive Cities for Women’, UN Women and Jagori; and author of ‘Masculinities and Power in the Asia-Pacific’ section of UNDPs Asia and the Pacific Human Development Report (2010). I continue to be associated with several groups that work at the interface of gender and policy, these include the Centre for Health and Social Justice (Delhi), SUTRA (Himachal Pradesh, India) and MenEngage Global.
Urban anthropology; consumer cultures; masculinity studies; middle-class cultures; ethnographies of the state and capital; India.
Techno-positive discourses of urban futures at the socio-economic margins of the city
Over the past decade, a wide variety of global technology and management companies have begun to partner with city governments in India to develop and deploy tools of digital governance and planning. This ethnographically driven research project explores relationships between discourses of techno-corporate urbanism, their subjects and the urban worlds that result. It investigates contexts where top-down plans for urban ‘improvement’ through digital and GIS technologies and management techniques are confronted by the everyday life of a city characterised by deep social and economic asymmetries. Through a focus on Delhi and the surrounding National Capital Region, the project aims to understand what techno-corporate urbanism tells us about relationships between the state, private capital and the urban poor and the nature of the city in India.
Urban Theotopias: Religion and the city
What is the relationship between the nature of the city – governance procedures, real estate activity, consumerism, etc.– and cultures of sacredness in India? This research explores how the city responds to the entry of diverse social religious groups and their religious observances; every day and subaltern forms of religiosity that define and shape the city and how these collide with imperatives of urban governance; and how new forms of urban living (gated communities, proliferation of middle-class residents’ associations, for example) are changing the way in which religion is felt and apprehended in the city.
Urban transformations, gender and violence
A significant manner of understanding social relationships – class, caste, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, etc. – concerns explorations relationships between social identity and space. Further, spaces have a dual identity: they are both sites upon which different social identities play out, as well as contexts for the formation and consolidation of identities.
Imagining the city as a series of interconnected spaces, this research explores how several such connections – between the home and the street, family and public spaces, religious and non-religious contexts, for example –bear upon the topic of gendered violence and produce lived social reality. Of particular interest are relationships between masculinities and the city. The research foregrounds the city as the mise en scène of the making (and un-making) of masculine cultures. Urbanisation in the Global South is a site of an extraordinary cultural, social and economic churn, a context of both new forms of masculinities as well as anxieties about its place in the unsettled hierarches that cities can frequently produce. The research explores how cultures of masculinity define cities and how urban relations of dwelling, mobility, togetherness, work and leisure are affected by the ways in which men inhabit the city. Drawing upon historical analysis, ethnographic research and analyses of popular culture, it analyses the grounds upon which ideas and practices of gendered violence circulate and the connections they have to urban processes.