FASS Staff Profile

DR V. CHITRA
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY

Appointment:
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Office:
AS01-02-23
Email:
soccv@nus.edu.sg
Tel:
66015958
Fax:
Homepage:
http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/soccv/
Tabs

Brief Introduction

I am an environmental anthropologist. I am broadly interested in how cultures of expertise--both scientific and non-scientific--shape human-nature relationships and our knowledge and experience of the climate crisis. Most of my research is set in urban contexts such as Mumbai and now, Singapore. I like to think about the intersecting trajectories of nonhumans, citizen science, policy and advocacy, design, technologies, and changing landscapes. My work is multimodal, often combining images, particularly comics and text.

I received my Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to NUS, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard. I have a graduate degree in visual design from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, where I specialized in experimental animation and comics. 


Teaching Areas

SC4206: Urban Anthropology
SC3231: Facing the Climate Crisis
SC3223: Visual Culture: Seeing and Representing
SC2221: Humans and Natures


Current Research

My current book project, Drawing Coastlines: Climate Anxieties and the Visual Reinvention of Mumbai’s Shore, looks at how technoscientific images such as plans, weather infographics, fisheries graphs, and surveys shape coasts and coastal futures. They set in place infrastructural interventions, vocabularies of development and conservation, and their lines and dots inscribe material conditions of existence and horizons of loss that entangle life forms that inhabit the shore. The book interlaces comics and text: its multimodal format is an attempt to engage in the politics of its context where words and images combine to create coastal worlds, and to find, through a creative anthropology, openings to build new forms of care in the midst of crisis.

You can see comics from my book manuscript here: https://www.instagram.com/chitradraws/

My second project is on insect worlds, entomological research, and emerging insect industries. Insects are disappearing at a rapid rate and at the same time, insect industries are flourishing. Insect protein is widely regarded as a sustainable alternative to other animal proteins, particularly red meat. My research will look at how these industries are designed and function, how insect agriculture happens, and the forms of insect care that sustain the industry. Another part of this project looks at changing cultures of entomological research, particularly how scientists study the changing behaviors of insects figure them as co-residents in an increasingly precarious world. I am interested in how these two poles—of abundance and scarcity—that mark insect populations, shape our relationship with insects.

During the pandemic, I began working on a short project on dog-fostering in Singapore. Tentatively titled The Singapore Special: Dog-Fostering and Canine-Human Governance, it focuses on the triangular relationship between the foster-care program in Singapore, the dogs in it, and housing policies. It shows how a landscape of housing regulations has recrafted mongrels as “Singapore Specials” in order to secure their belonging in the city. I look at the role that fosterers play in reshaping Singapore Specials as “good” canine citizens in order to gain legitimacy not just in the eyes of the state, but also in the community at large.

 

Research Interests

Environmental anthropology, visual studies, science and technology studies, cities, design, nonhumans, landscapes, and comics


Publications

ARTICLES IN JOURNALS

  • 2021 “Coastal Substance: Waste and its Interactions at Mumbai’s Shore.” American Ethnologist (forthcoming, Nov. 2021)
    2021. Remembering the river: “Flood, memory, and infrastructural ecologies of stormwater drainage in Mumbai.” Urban Studies https://doi.org/10.1177/00420980211023381
    2019. Co-Authored with Lisa Bjorkman. “Mediating Mumbai: ethnographic explorations of urban linkage.” International Planning Studies 24, no. 1: 81-95

     

     

CHAPTERS IN BOOKS

  • “Map.” Chapter in A Handbook of Visual Methods. Ed. Rupert Cox. Routledge, UK (forthcoming)
    2019. “Bloom.” In Anthropocene Unseen: A Lexicon. Ed. Howe, Cymene and Pandian, A. Punctum NYC. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv11hptbw
    2017. “Identification, Materiality, and Housing Transformations in Mumbai.” In Coming of an Age: Trends and Issues in Housing in Asia. Ed. U. Sengupta and A. Shaw. Routledge
     

BOOK REVIEWS

  • 2019. Venkataramani, Chitra. "Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai, by Nikhil Anand." Asian Journal of Social Science 47, no. 1: 156-159

OTHERS

  • Includes Selected Visual Works

    2021. "Drawing and Fishing a Salty Shore." Anthropology News 62, no. 4
    2020 "Anomalous Landscape" in Illustrating Anthropology. Curated by Laura Haapio-Kirk and Jennifer Cearns. Royal Anthropological Institute. Available here
    2017. "CRZ drives a wedge between communities in Mumbai." Center for Policy Research, India. Available here
    2015. "Trachyte." in Comics and the Anthropological Imagination. Curated by Stacy Leigh Pigg and Cristina Moretti. Center for Imaginative Ethnography. Available here
    2009. Pandian, Anand, Chitra Venkataramani, and Marieke Wilson. "Virtual Pedagogy: New Media for the Anthropological Classroom." Anthropology News 50, no. 4 (2009): 26-26.

     

     


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