Aarti Sethi

Aarti Sethi

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Dept of Anthropology
Research Expertise and Interest
agrarian anthropology, ruralism, feminist anthropology, political economy, Comparative Religion, South Asia, debt and capitalism, cinema and media culture, ercstatic experience, embodiment and aestetics, theory of mind, theory of subjectivity, caste, socio-economic inequality
Research Description

Aarti Sethi is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology.  Her research interests broadly focus on the transformation of rural life-worlds and agrarian capitalism. Her current manuscript examines cash-crop economies to understand how monetary debt undertaken for transgenic cotton-cultivation transforms intimate, social and productive relations in rural society. Her current research focus is the political economy of agrarian India, rural life-worlds, debt burdens attendant on the absorption of new agricultural technologies, peasant struggle, changing relations between the farming household and external markets, and the gendered dimensions of agricultural work. 

Her current manuscript examines cash-crop economies to understand how monetary debt undertaken for transgenic cotton-cultivation transforms intimate, social and productive relations in rural society. She is particularly concerned with understanding the specificity of neoliberal agrarian change as a process in which peasant producers around the world have become the subaltern franchisees of international bio-capital. In regions where agricultural production is subsumed by transgenic cash-cropping, the farming household and village community have become productive corollaries of the capitalist market. The individuation of risk and the entry of market-debt into familial networks has had corrosive impacts on social relations and experiences of personhood. She is invested in developing analytical frameworks that theorize and emplace gender and the peasant household as primary axes of socio-productive relations.

While her work is ethnographically located in South Asia, it engages broader debates on agrarian change that view agriculture not as vestigial but as central to the emergence of modern industrial capitalisms. She is the convener of a collaborative interdisciplinary project called ‘The Crops of Capital’ that explores global linkages between modern state power and rural socio-economic processes, particularly for the intensive capitalization, industrialization and hybridization of agriculture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The second strand of her work pertains to ritual and popular religion. She employs classic techniques of analysis, while working within this heritage to formulate new ways of conceptualizing the relationship ritual, religion and society. She has also previously published and has long-term investments in urban anthropology, cinematic, media and visual cultures. Social memory and practice often have great temporal depth. Her work straddles both the archive and the field to develop techniques of analysis that respond to the mutually constitutive relations between history and anthropology. 

 

 

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