After my undergraduate studies in Sociology in Sri Lanka, I joined Johns Hopkins University to pursue my postgraduate studies in cultural anthropology and was awarded a PhD in 2011. I conducted two years of fieldwork on Sri Lankan transnational Tamil marriages. This research has been published as a book, titled Marrying for a Future: Sri Lankan Transnational Tamil Marriages in the Shadow of War, in 2019 with University of Washington Press (Global South Asia Series). This book deals with temporalities, documents, laws, kinship and political violence. I taught at University of Peradeniya, and Johns Hopkins University. I was awarded a Newton Fellowship by British Academia and Royal Society which was held at University of Edinburgh before I joined NUS in July 2013. I currently hold a joint appointment in Department of Sociology.
My research has focused on three main areas in the discipline of anthropology: anthropology of marriage, migration and political violence; anthropology of politics and religion; and anthropology of ethics and conscience. My work is grounded in the South Asian region but has also taken me beyond these areas. My anthropological research includes multi-sited fieldwork and intersects with the disciplines of anthropology, history and philosophy.
Modules taught / teach at NUS:
SN3274 South Asian Cinema
SN 2280 Marriage, Sex, Love in South Asia
SC 4228 Making Sense of Violence
SC 4221 Comparative Analysis of Human Rights
SN2274 South Asian Cultures: An Introduction
SN 3275 Tamil Culture and Society
Co taught the following classes:
SN 4101: Approaches to Study of South Asia
SN 1101: South Asian: People, Culture, Development
GEH1009: Framing Bollywood: Unpacking The Magic
Individual Study Modules (ISM) (Graduate level)
SC 6660 Anthropology of Subjectivity
SN 6660 Diaspora and Transnationalism
SC 6660 Gender and Migration
PhD Students (Supervision)
2019- to date: Priyam Sinha,
“South Asian Cinema, Representations and Disabilities,”.
2019- to date: Pavithra Menon
" Gender in Diasporic Spaces:Tamil Muslim Women in Malaysia and Singapore"
2015 to 2020: Ranjana Raghunathan(Successfully completed PhD in May 2020)
“Inhabiting Intimate Worlds: Tamil Women and Belonging in Singapore”
2015 to 2019: Shivani Gupta (Successfully completed PhD in December 2019)
“Mapping Women’s Worlds in Contemporary Urban Banaras”
PhD thesis committee member
Radhika Mathrani Chakraborty (PhD thesis committee member), “Hindu Sindhis in Hong Kong: Exploring Translocal Diasporic Identity,” 2019-2023.
Sanjay Sharma (PhD thesis committee member), “Invisible Counterparts’ of the ‘Warrior Gentlemen’: The Gendered Militarisation and Migration of the ‘Gurkhas,” 2019-2023.
Shruti Gupta (PhD thesis committee member), “Gendered migration and transnational lives”, 2019-2024.
Soontree Sirinntawon, (PhD thesis committee member), “Subject Formation and Selfmaking in the Everyday Lives of Stateless Shan Young People at the Thai-Burmese Borderland,” 2017-2021.
Gopika Jadeja (PhD thesis committee member), “Dalit Literatures and Nationalism in Gujarat, India,” 2015-2019 (successfully completed PhD in March 2019)
My research interests revolve around Violence, Relatedness, Religion, Politics, Conscience, Temporalities, Marriage, Migration and Diaspora.
ARTICLES IN JOURNALS
2021 'Homeless’ Deities and Refugee Devotees: Hindu Temples, Divine Power and Sri Lankan Tamil Communities'. American Anthropologist (Accepted)
2020 'Vulnerable Sovereignty'. Current Anthropology (Accepted and forthcoming)
2020: 'Thinking with Time:Reflections on Migration and Diaspora Studies Through Sri Lankan Tamil Marriage Migration '. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol 64 (10)
2018 (with Bart Klem). ‘Public Authority Under Sovereign Encroachment: Leadership in Two Villages During Sri Lanka’s War’. Modern Asian Studies, Vol 52 (3)
2018 (with Jonathan Spencer). ‘You Can Do Anything with a Temple’. Philanthropy and Politics in South London and Sri Lanka’. Modern Asian Studies, Vol 52 (1)
2017 (with Bart Klem). ‘Mimicking Sovereign Rule: Governance, Kingship and Violence in Civil Wars’. Comparative Studies in Society and History. Vol 59 (3)
2015. “Amman as Social Auditor: Financial Misconduct vs Charitable Giving by the Tamil Sri Lankans in UK”. Contribution to Indian Sociology: 49 (4)
2013 (with Jonathan Spencer). Tigers, Temples and the Remaking of Tamil Society: Report from the field. Religion and Society, Vol 3 (1)
SHORTER ARTICLES/COMMENTS IN JOURNAL
Short reflective article (with Bart Klem): ‘Being in the know’. Comparative Studies in Society and History website, Behind the Scenes, July 7, 2017 https://cssh.lsa.umich.edu/2017/07/04/being-in-the-know/
“Transnational Sri Lankan Tamil marriages.” In Encyclopedia of Sri Lankan Diaspora by Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, 2013.
CHAPTERS IN BOOKS
2014: “Transnational Marriages: Documents, Wedding photos, Photographers and Jaffna Tamil Marriages”. In Rajni Palriwala, and Ravinder Kaur (ed.), Marrying in South Asia. Delhi: Orient Blackswan (Orient Longman).
2012: (with Nichols Van Der Hear)“Transnational Marriages in Conflict Settings: War, Dispersal and Sri Lankan Tamil Marriages”. In Charsley, Katherine (ed): Transnational Marriage: New Perspectives from Europe and Beyond. London: Routledge.
2010: “Brides as Bridges? Tamilness through Movements, Documents and Anticipations”. In Dr. R. Cheran (ed), Pathways of Dissent: Tamil Nationalism in Sri Lanka. Delhi, London: Sage Publications.
2008: “Youth Voices: I Do Not Want Anything from Anybody, I Will Rebuild My Family”. In: Hettige, S.T. and M. Mayer (eds.): Youth, Peace and Development. Colombo: Center for Poverty Analysis.
2003: “Negotiating Tamilness”. In Dr Marcus Mayer, Dr Yuvi Thangaraja and Dr. Darani Rajasingam (eds): Building Local Capacities for Peace: Rethinking Conflict and Development in Sri Lanka, MacMillan, India.