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Department of Social Anthropology



The study of modernity and achievement; globalisation; theories of historical change; the disciplinary interface between history and anthropology; colonialism and its cultural afterlife.

As an anthropologist originally trained in history, I specialised initially in Indian religion and the lived experience of south Asia’s caste system. Thereafter, with the aim of making a distinctive historically informed contribution to anthropology, I explored the French and British empires as settings for divergent interactions between Western and non-Western peoples, focusing since 2000 on fieldwork in Vietnam. Having begun with fieldwork among Hanoi’s intelligentsia families, exploring their experiences in the socialist world system as an arena of dynamic ‘socialist moderns’ handling the legacies of empire and revolution as makers of highly divergent colonial, postcolonial and socialist modernities, I am now focusing on two related projects.

One is an exploration of the visual language of success and aspiration in contemporary urban Vietnam, and is a development out of my research for an ESRC-supported comparative project with Dr N. Long of LSE on The Social Life Of Achievement & Competitiveness in Vietnam & Indonesia, involving fieldwork on the ways achievement and competitiveness are being enacted and understood in these two key sites of Southeast Asian transformation experiences.

The other is on Familial and Personal Experiences of Marketisation in Contemporary Vietnam, a project building on fieldwork with Hanoi families from diverse urban backgrounds, exploring the values attached to skills and moral capital attained from work and training in sites where women particularly have learned to hold their own as traders and service-sector workers in the key labour-deficit Asian ‘tiger’ states.




2007: Asian Voices in a Postcolonial Age. Vietnam, India and Beyond  Cambridge University Press 281 pages ISBN-13: 9780521688949

1999: Caste, society and politics in India from the eighteenth century to the modern age. Cambridge University Press

1989: Saints, Goddesses and Kings. Muslims and Christians in South Indian Society 1700-1900. Cambridge University Press 
Selected for the American Council of Learned Societies History Ebook Project (January 2005)


Articles and Book Chapters

2018: 'Anthropology and History'. In Schools and Styles of Anthropological Theory. Matei Candea, ed. London: Routledge.

2014: How to Forge a Creative Student-Citizen: Achieving the Positive in Today’s Vietnam Modern Asian Studies 48, no. 3: 493-523

2013: ‘Mapping Time, Living Space: The Moral Cartography of Renovation in Late-Socialist Vietnam’, Cambridge Anthropology 31:2, pp. 60-84

2013: ‘For Family, State and Nation: Achieving Cosmopolitan Modernity in Late-Socialist Vietnam’, in N. Long and Henrietta Moore, eds. The Social Life of Achievement: Berghahn

2012: Anthologised versions of my ‘French anthropology and the Durkheimians in colonial Indochina’, Modern Asian Studies 34,3 July 2000, in a volume on French colonialism from Nebraska University Press, and in Engaging Colonial Knowledge (Palgrave), eds. R. Roque and K. Wagner.

2010: ‘From History to Anthropology: Reflections on Caste from South India & Vietnam’, in D.S. Babu & R. S. Khare, eds., Caste in Life: Experiencing Inequalities (New Delhi: Pearson)

2010: ‘Hanoi intellectuals as contributors to the cultural life of the Vietnamese Revolution’, in Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference of Vietnamese Studies 2008, Hanoi. (in Vietnamese).

2009: ‘Vietnamese narratives of tradition, exchange and friendship in the worlds of the global socialist ecumene’, in Harry West and Parvathi Raman, eds. Enduring Socialism. Explorations of Revolution, Transformation and Restoration.  (Oxford: Berghahn Books) pp. 125-47.

2009: ‘Conceptualizing Resistance and Revolution in Vietnam: Paul Mus’ Understanding of Colonialism in Crisis’, Journal of Vietnamese Studies 2009: 4:1: pp. 192-205. Revised version of ‘Penser la résistance et la révolution’, in Paul Mus (1902-1969): L’espace d’un regard, eds. D. Chandler & C. Goscha (Paris: Les Indes Savantes, 2006)

2006: India’s ‘Empire of culture’ Sylvain Lévi and the Greater India Society’, in L. Bansat-Boudon and R. Lardinois (eds.), Sylvain Lévi (1863-1935). Etudes indiennes, histoire sociale Bibliothèque de l’Ecole des hautes études, sciences religieuses, Turnhout (Belgium): Brepols Publishers  pp. 193-212 [ISBN 978-2-503-52447-4]

2006: ‘Penser la résistance at la revolution: la vision de Paul Mus du colonialisme encrise’ [‘Conceptualising resistance and revolution: Paul Mus and the vision of colonialism in crisis’] in a volume entitled Un sage regard: L’oevre et la vie d Paul Mus (1902-1969) edited by D. Chandler and C. Goscha, published by Les Indes Savantes

2006: Critical introduction to Iris Macfarlane, Daughters of the Empire: A Memoir of Life and Times in the British Raj (Delhi: Oxford University Press) pp. xvi-xxxix

2004: ‘Vietnamese intellectuals in revolutionary and postcolonial times’, Critique of Anthropology (24,3), pp. 320-344

2004: ‘Imagining “Greater India”: French and Indian visions of colonialism in the Indic mode’, Modern Asian Studies (38,3), pp. 703-744

2004: ‘Conceptualizing from within: Divergent religious modes from Asian modernist perspectives’, in J. Laidlaw & H.Whitehouse, (eds) Ritual and memory. Toward a comparative anthropology of religion (New York, Toronto, Oxford: Altamira Press) pp.111-134

2003: ‘The south Indian state and the creation of Muslim community” in P. Marshall, (ed.) The eighteenth century in Indian history. Evolution or revolution? (Oxford University Press) pp. 203-39

2002: ‘Racial readings of empire: Britain, France and colonial modernity in the Mediterranean and Asia’, in L. Fawaz & C. Bayly (eds.) Modernity and Culture from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean (Columbia University Press) pp. 285-313

2000: ‘Cult saints, heroes, and warrior kings: South Asian Islam in the making’, in K. E. Yandell & J. J. Paul (eds), Religion and Public Culture (London: Routledge/Curzon) pp 211-32

2000: ‘French anthropology and the Durkheimians in colonial Indochina’, Modern Asian Studies 34,3, pp. 581-622

1999: ‘The evolution of colonial cultures in Asia’, in Andrew Porter (ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire vol 3: The Nineteenth Century (Oxford University Press) pp. 447-469

1999: ‘Race in Britain and India’, in P. van der Veer & H. Lehmann (eds). Nation and religion. Perspectives on Europe and Asia (Princeton University Press), pp. 71-95

1998: ‘Hindu modernizers and the public arena: indigenous critiques of caste in colonial India’, in W. Radice (ed.), Swami Vivekananda and the modernization of Hinduism (Delhi: Oxford University Press) pp. 93-137

1995: ‘Caste and race in the colonial ethnography of India’, in Peter Robb, ed. The concept of race in south Asia (Delhi: Oxford University Press) pp.165-218

1994: ‘Christians and competing fundamentalisms in south Indian society’, in M. E. Marty and R. S. Appleby, eds., Accounting for Fundamentalisms. The Dynamic Character of Movements (University of Chicago Press) pp. 726-69

1993: ‘Extra-European history: the retreat from unity’, (review article) The Historical Journal 36:4, pp. 977-85

1993: ‘The limits of Islamic expansion in South India’, in A. L. Dallapiccola and S. Zingel-Ave Lallement eds. Islam and Indian Regions 2 vols. (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner), vol.1 pp. 453-90

1994: ‘Saints’ cults and warrior kingdoms in South India’, in N. Thomas and C. Humphrey (eds.) Shamanism, History and the State, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press), pp 117-32

1992: ‘Hijacking history: Fundamentalism in the Third World today’, in A. W. Van den Hoek, D. Kolff, M. Oort (eds.) Ritual, State and History in South Asia, (Leiden: Brill), pp 417-32

1993: ‘History and the fundamentalists: India after the Ayodhya crisis’, Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 46:7, pp. 7-26

1988: “Islam and state power in pre-colonial south India”, Itinerario, Special Issue: The Ancien Regime xii:i, pp 143-64

1988: [with C.A. Bayly]: “Eighteenth century state forms and the economy”, in C. Dewey, (ed.), Arrested Development in India. The Historical Dimension,(New York and Delhi: Manohar Publications), pp 66-90

1986: ‘Islam in southern India: “purist” or “syncretic”?’, in C. Bayly and D. Kolff, (eds), Two colonial empires. Comparative essays on the history of India and Indonesia in the nineteenth century (Dordrecht, Lancaster: Martinus Nijhoff) pp. 35-74

1984: ‘Hindu kingship and the origin of community: religion, state and society in Kerala, 1750-1850’, Modern Asian Studies 18:2, pp.177-213

1983: ‘The history of caste in south Asia’, (review article) Modern Asian Studies 17:3, pp. 519-28

1981: ‘A Christian caste in Hindu society: religious leadership and social conflict among the Paravas of southern Tamilnadu’, [under maiden name Kaufmann] Modern Asian Studies 15:2, pp. 203-34

Teaching and Supervisions

Professor Emerita of Historical Anthropology
Fellow, Tutor and Director of Studies, Christ's College
Office hours: appointment by email
Professor Susan  Bayly

Contact Details

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