Professor Nayanika Mathur

Research Interests
Research Disciplines:
  • Anthropology
Research Keywords:
  • Anthropology of politics, development, environment, law, human-animal studies, and research methods.
Contact Information


Phone: +44 (0)1865 (2)12852

Office: 11 Bevington Road, Oxford, OX2 6LH

College: Wolfson College


Nayanika Mathur Publications


Crooked Cats: Beastly Encounters in the Anthropocene, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021. Under contract with HarperCollins for the South Asia edition, forthcoming in early 2022.



Paper Tiger: Law, Bureaucracy and the Developmental State in Himalayan India, 2016, Cambridge and Delhi: Cambridge University Press. {Cambridge Studies in Law and Society} A Winner of the Sharon Stephens Prize awarded by the American Ethnological Society


Edited Collections

  • Figures of the Political, 2022, New Delhi: Penguin Random House India (with Ravinder Kaur)
  • “Trial by Fire: Trauma, Vulnerability and the Heroics of Fieldwork”, guest editor (with Rachel Douglas-Jones, Catherine Trundle, and Tarapuhi Vaeau), volume 3, no. 1, 2020, Commoning Ethnography.
  • Who Are ‘We’? Reimagining Alterity and Affinity in Anthropology, 2018, New York: Berghahn Press (with Liana Chua).
  • “Remaking the Public Good: A New Anthropology of Bureaucracy” guest editor (with Laura Bear) volume 33, no.1, 2015, The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology.


Journal Articles

  • Beastly Identification in India: The Government of Big Cats in the Anthropocene", American Ethnologist, volume 48, no. 2, 2021, pp. 167-179
  • NRC se Azadi”: Process, Chronology, and a Paper Monster”, South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, 24/25, 2020
  • Introduction: Trauma, Vulnerability and the Heroics of Fieldwork”, (with Rachel Douglas-Jones, Catherine Trundle, and Tarapuhi Vaeau), Commoning Ethnography, volume 3, no. 1, 2020, pp. 99-116 
  • "Emptiness and Beastly Encounters" Theorizing the Contemporary, Fieldsights, Cultural Anthropology website. December 15, 2020.
  • Afterword: The Utopianisation of Bureaucracy”, Social Anthropology, volume 28, no. 1, 2020, pp. 112-120.
  • Telling the Story of the Pandemic. Somatosphere, Covid-19 forum, May 11, 2020
  • “A Petition to Kill: Efficacious arzees against big cats in India,” Modern Asian Studies volume 53, no. 1, 2019, pp. 278-311
  • “Incursion,” {Forum on Volumetric Sovereignty}, 2019, Society and Space,
  • “The Task of the Climate Translator,” Economic and Political Weekly, volume 52, no. 31, 2017, pp. 77-84
  • “Eating Money: Corruption and its categorical ‘Other’ in the leaky Indian state,” Modern Asian Studies volume 51, no. 6, 2017, pp. 1796-1817
  • “Predation." In Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen Series, Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology website, July 12, 2016.
  • “It’s a Conspiracy Theory and Climate Change: Of Beastly Encounters and Cervine Disappearances in Himalayan India,” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory volume 5, no 1., 2015, pp. 87-111.
  • “Introduction: Remaking the Public Good – A New Anthropology of Bureaucracy,” (with Laura Bear), The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, Volume 33, no.1, 2015, pp. 18-34.
  • “The Reign of Terror of the Big Cat: Bureaucracy and the Mediation of Social Time in the Indian Himalaya,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI) volume 20, no. 1, 2014, pp. 148-165
  • “Transparent-Making Documents and the Crisis of Implementation: A Rural Employment Law and Development Bureaucracy in India,” Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR), volume 35, no. 2, 2012, pp. 167-184.
  • “A ‘Remote’ Town in the Indian Himalaya”, Modern Asian Studies, volume 49, no. 2, 2015, pp. 365 - 392.
  • "State Debt and the Rural: Two Historical Moments in India". Anthropology News. volume 54, no. 5, 2013.


Book Chapters

  • “Predation,” in C. Howe and A. Pandian, eds. Anthropocene Unknown: A Lexicon, 2020, Punctum Books, pp. 343-347
  • “Introducing the ‘We’ In and Of Anthropology” (with Liana Chua), introduction to edited collection, 2018, New York: Berghahn Books, pp 1-34.
  • “Effecting Development: Bureaucratic Knowledges, Cynicism and the Desire for Development in the Indian Himalaya,” in S. Venkatesan and T. Yarrow, eds. Differentiating Development: Beyond an Anthropology of Critique. London: Berghahn, 2012, pp. 193-209.
  • “Naturalising the Himalaya-as-Border in Uttarakhand,” in David Gellner, ed. Borderlands of Northern South Asia: Non-State Perspectives. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013, pp. 72-93.



  • “A Measure of the Measure of Measuring,” review of “The Seductions of Quantification: Measuring Human Rights, Gender Violence, and Sex Trafficking,” by Sally Engle Merry in American Anthropologist, volume 121, no. 1, 2019, pp. 264-266.
  • “Give a Woman a Giant Panda”, review of “Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution,” by James Ferguson in Anthropology of This Century, January 2016, Issue 15.
  • “Privatising ‘Wild’ India,” review of “Saving Wild India,” by Valmik Thapar in Economic and Political Weekly, October 2015, Volume 50, issue 44, pp. 24-26.
  • “Government of Paper: The Materiality of Bureaucracy in Urban Pakistan,” by Matthew S. Hull in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2015, volume 21, issue 3, pp. 707-708.
  • “Wall Street at War: The Secret Struggle for the Global Economy” by Alexandra Ouroussoff in Social Anthropology, 2012, volume 20, issue 4, pp. 507-508.
  • “Nature, Culture and Religion at the Crossroads of Asia,” (ed.) M. Lecomte-Tilouine in European Bulletin of Himalayan Research, 2011, Volume 34.
  • “The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development and the Practice of Politics,” by T. M. Li in Cambridge Anthropology, 2010, volume 28, Number 2.


Public Engagement/Media