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Bhrigupati Singh

Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Ashoka University

Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University

Bhrigupati Singh is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Ashoka University, Visiting Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Brown University, and a Research Fellow at the Carney Institute for Brain Science. He studied at Delhi University, SOAS (London) and completed his PhD in anthropology at Johns Hopkins University in 2010. Prior to joining Ashoka, he taught at Brown University, King’s College (London), and worked as a researcher at Sarai-CSDS (Delhi).

His first book, Poverty and the Quest for Life: Spiritual and Material Striving in Rural India (University of Chicago Press, Oxford University Press 2015) was awarded the Joseph Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences by the American Institute of Indian Studies, an Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion by the American Academy of Religion, and was a finalist for the Clifford Geertz Book Prize. He is a co-editor of The Ground Between: Anthropologists Engage Philosophy (Duke University Press, Orient Blackswan 2014), and serves as co-editor of a book series, Thinking from Elsewhere (Fordham University Press). He has published articles on issues of religion, mental health, media, and popular culture, in journals including  Cultural Anthropology, American Ethnologist, and Contributions to Indian Sociology.

At present he is working on two related book projects: a book of essays on concepts of the psyche titled Waxing and Waning Life: Essays at the Intersection of Anthropology and Psychiatry, and an anthropological monograph titled Life Unsettled, set in the “resettlement colony” of Trilokpuri in East Delhi. These projects emerge from research he has been conducting over the past five years, beginning with a year-long Visiting faculty position in 2015-16 at the Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS, Delhi). In 2018-19 he received a writing fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Study (Berlin) for his current work on mental health and illness.  In collaboration with psychiatrists at AIIMS, he is in the process of creating a consortium for longitudinal research on issues of mental health and urban poverty in India.

Books and Book Chapters 

  • Poverty and the Quest for Life: Spiritual and Material Striving in Rural India
    University of Chicago Press (2015), Oxford University Press (South Asia Edition, 2015)
  • The Ground Between: Anthropologists Engage Philosophy, Co-edited with Arthur Kleinman, Michael D. Jackson and Veena Das. Duke University Press, 2014.
  • “Foreword” to the new edition of Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India by Veena Das. Oxford University Press (2018 reprint).
  • “Writing with Love and Hate” in Writing Anthropology: Essays on Craft and Commitment. (ed.) Carole McGranahan. Duke University Press (2020)
  • “Hunger and Thirst: Crisis at Varying Thresholds of Life”, in Living and Dying in the Contemporary World (eds.) Clara Han and Veena Das. University of California Press: Berkeley (2015)
  • “Photography and Prana (Life-force): Towards a Vitalist Reading of Images” in Origins (eds.) Raahab Allana and Nandita Jaishankar, British High Commission (India) and the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts (2015)
  • “Conceptual Vita” in Wording the World (ed.) Roma Chatterji. 2015. Fordham University Press: Fordham, Orient Blackswan (India)
  • “How Concepts make the World Look Different: Affirmative and Negative Genealogies of Thought” in The Ground Between: Anthropologists Engage Philosophy. (eds.) Arthur Kleinman, Michael D. Jackson & Veena Das and Bhrigupati Singh. 2014. Duke Univ. Press: Durham, NC.
  • “Re-inhabiting Civil Disobedience” in Political Theologies (eds.) Hent deVries and Lawrence Sullivan. 2006. Fordham University Press: Fordham.

Selected Articles 

  • “Can a Neighbourhood Fall Sick? Thoughts on the Opioid Epidemic in India” provisionally accepted in Medical Anthropology Quarterly (August 2020)
  • “Schizophrenia as a Problem of Other Minds” (under review), Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology
  • “The Contagion of Mental Illness: Insights from a Sufi Shrine”, co-authored with Professor Pratap Sharan (Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS, Delhi), (under review) Transcultural Psychiatry.
  • “How Things Still Matter”, Art India, January 2020
  • “Is the Opioid Epidemic a Global Phenomenon?” Bulletin of the Carney Institute for Brain Sciences, February 2020: https://www.brown.edu/carney/news/2020/02/17/guest-column-opioid-epidemic-global-phenomenon
  • “Anthropological Investigations of Vitality: Life-force as a Dimension distinct from Space and Time”, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 8 (3), January 2019, pp. 550-565.
  • “An Uncritical Encounter between Anthropology and Psychiatry: AIIMS Psychiatrists reading Affliction”, in Medicine Anthropology Theory, Issue 4, No. 3, September 2017, pp. 153-165
  • “Depression”, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, in Special Issue on “Keywords in Indian English” (eds.) Craig Jeffrey, Assi Doron and Meera Ashar. Vol.40, No.2, June 2017, pp. 297-300.
  • “Introduction: A Joyful History of Anthropology”, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, Vol.6, No.2, 2016, pp. 197-211 (co-authored with Jane Guyer).
  • “On the Killing and Killability of Animals: Non-moral Thoughts for the Anthropology of Ethics”, with Naisargi Dave, in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Vol. 35, No.2, September 2015, pp. 232-245.
  • “Botched Enlightenment”, E-flux: Journal of Contemporary Art, Culture and Theory, Special Issue for the 56th Venice Biennale, June 2015. (co-authored with Leela Gandhi)
  • “The Headless Horseman of Central India: Sovereignty at Varying Thresholds of Life”, Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 27, Issue 2, May 2012, pp. 383-407.
  • “Agonistic Intimacy and Moral Aspiration in Popular Hinduism: A Study in the Political Theology of the Neighbor”, American Ethnologist, Vol. 38, No. 3, August 2011, pp. 430-450.
  • “Frugality and Excess in Gandhi, Thoreau and Nietzsche”, Borderlands, Special Issue on Religion and Sexuality, Vol.9, No.3, December 2010, pp. 1-34.
  • ‘Aadamkhor Haseena (The Man-Eating Beauty): Cinema, the City, and the Anthropology of a Moment:’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 42, 2, May 2008. pp. 249-279.
  • ‘Another Investigation of Postcolonial Failure’, Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory, Vol. 7. No.1, Winter 2005. pp. 55-82.
  • ‘One Week in Aman Chowk: On the Aftermath of Collective Violence in Gujarat, India’, Seminar, Issue 517, September 2002. pp. 78-85.
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