Veena Das

Veena Das
pas labex
pas Eurias

dates de séjour

01/12/2009 - 31/12/2009


Anthropologie et ethnologie

Fonction d’origine


Institution d’origine

Université John Hopkins (États-Unis)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Anthropological Reflections on the Event and the Everyday

The abiding concerns of my research have been to understand the working of long time cultural logics in contemporary events as well as moments of rupture and recovery. My first book showed how one may address this through an examination of texts produced in local communities in which myth and history were embedded in each other. I have often learnt from ancient, medieval and contemporary texts in Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali and Urdu either by posing these as interlocutors to some contemporary anthropological concerns or taking their voices on lease in order to traverse a different genealogy of the problem.

In recent years I have worked intensively on questions of violence, social suffering and subjectivity. My interest in these questions stems from questions on the institutional processes through which violence and suffering are produced as well as from questions on what it is to produce testimony to these events and to oneself. If societies hide from themselves the pain which is inflicted upon individuals as prices of belonging, then how do social sciences learn to receive this knowledge? I have tried to see the intricate relations between biography, autobiography and ethnography to frame many of these questions.

Currently I am working on a project on burden of disease and health seeking behaviour among the urban poor in Delhi. This work is being done in collaboration with colleagues from the disciplines of Economics and the Health Sciences in addition to anthropologists and sociologists. The collaborating institution in Delhi is the Institute of Socio-Economic Research in Development and Democracy. Presently we are trying to create a panel data for 250 households which tracks the relation between local ecology, health and family processes of decision making.


Veena Das is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology at the Johns Hopkins University. Before joining Johns Hopkins University in 2000, she taught at the Delhi School of Economics for more than thirty years and also held a joint appointment at the New School for Social Research from 1997- 2000. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Academy of Scientists from Developing Countries. She was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009 and the Anders Retzius Award of the Swedish Society of Anthropology and Geography in 1995 and the Ghurye Award in 1977. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago in 2000 and from the University of Edinburgh in 2014. Most recently she was awarded the Nessim Habif Prize by the University of Geneva.

Veena Das’s research covers a range of fields. She is passionately interested in the question of how ethnography generates concepts; how we might treat philosophical and literary traditions from India and other regions as generative of theoretical and practical understanding of the world; how to render the texture and contours of everyday life; and the way everyday and the event are joined together in the making of the normal and the critical. Her work on collective violence and urban transformations has appeared in many anthologies. Her most recent books are Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary (2007) Affliction: Health, Disease, Poverty (2015) and three co-edited volumes, The Ground Between: Anthropologists Engage Philosophy (2014), Living and Dying in the Contemporary World: A Compendium (2015) andPolitics of the Urban Poor (forthcoming). Her graduate students are working on a number of issues in different parts of the world and her work is deeply informed by her heady interactions with them.