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


front paper tiger



Edited Collections

“Figures of the Political,”2020, New Delhi: Penguin Random House India (with Ravinder Kaur)

            “Remaking the Public Good: A New Anthropology of Bureaucracy” guest editor (with Laura Bear) volume 33, no.1, 2015, The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology.

            “Who Are ‘We’? Reimagining Alterity and Affinity in Anthropology” (with Liana Chua), in press, Berghahn Press {Methodology and History in Anthropology series}


Journal Articles



“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

“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

The NRC is a bureaucratic paper monster that will divide and devour India, Scroll.In, January 14 2020


Tragic tale of a ‘man-eating’ tigress tells us so much about the Climate Crisis, The Conversation, May 16, 2019. {Reproduced in Newsweek, Popular Science, and Quartz)


The Time for a Minimum Income Guarantee Has Come, The Wire, Mar 26, 2019.


Shocked, Not Surprised #Hautalk, AllegraLab, June 22, 2018


What a ballot-rigging conspiracy theory says about India’s toxic political climate, The Conversation, Apr 2, 2017. {Reproduced in Newsweek}


A High Court Ban on Killing Man-Eaters will Only Intensify Human-Animal Conflict in the Himalaya, Scroll.In, Jan 03, 2017.


'Colagate': Corruption, an Honest Bureaucrat, and a Deeper Malaise in India, The Conversation, August 23, 206. {This article was reproduced widely including in The WireThe Huffington PostThe London School of Economics BlogThe QuintThe British Academy blog}


Why Progressive Laws Produce Bizzare Results, Scoll.In, September 6, 2016


Conversation and blog post with David Graeber and Laura Bear on austerity states, financialisation, and the anthropology of bureaucracy: “Bureaucrats are the evil sisters of ethnographers,”, September 24, 2015


“Climate Change Vs. Conspiracy Theory in India.” Open Democracy, September 14, 2015.


“Writing Cats,” blog post,, November 29, 2015


“Of Tigeraphernalia and Talking Big Cats,” blog post,, February 5, 2014.


“Rhinos or Bangladeshis? The Paranoid Style of the Hindu Right,” blog post,, March 31, 2014


“The Dummies Guide to Conspiracy Theorising,” blog post,, November 1, 2013


“The Eating of Humans,” blog post,, June 28, 2013


“Death by Conspiracy,” blog post,, May 10, 2013


Discussion on ‘redefining poverty’, Inside Story, Al Jazeera news channel, May 20, 2011.