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Swargajyoti Gohain

Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Ashoka University

Ph.D. Emory University

Swargajyoti Gohain is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology. She has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Emory University, U.S.A., and a Bachelors and Masters in Sociology from Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University. She has held postdoctoral positions in the International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden, Netherlands, and the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. Before joining Ashoka University, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.

Swargajyoti Gohain conducted her doctoral research in Tawang and West Kameng, two districts in west Arunachal Pradesh, bordering Bhutan and Tibet, which have been the focus of a long-drawn India-China boundary conflict. Her first book, Imagined Geographies in the Indo-Tibetan Borderlands (2020, Amsterdam University Press) concerns cultural politics among the Tibetan Buddhist Monpa communities of Arunachal Pradesh. She has published several articles on the politics of language, development, state formation, and identity politics in Northeast India and the Himalayan region. She has been the recipient of Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Award, Charles Wallace India Trust award, Sir Ratan Tata Fellowship, and UGC’s Junior Research Fellowship (JRF).

Swargajyoti Gohain’s research interests include the anthropology of state and borders, culture and politics, development, infrastructure and ecology, and educational institutions in the Indian Himalayan region. She has fieldwork experience in Northeast India and the Himalaya. Her current project is a study of contemporary Tibetan Buddhist institutions and networks in India. She is also developing a research project on the relation between culture, politics, and ecology through the study of tourism infrastructure. Her work adopts an interdisciplinary approach in analysis, even while remaining grounded in the disciplines of sociology and anthropology.


  • 2020. Imagined Geographies in the Indo-Tibetan Borderlands. Amsterdam University Press 

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • 2022. “Redrawing Boundaries of Belonging among Indian Himalayan Buddhists” In special journal issue, Buddhist Homeland(s), Citizenship and the Politics of Belonging in South Asia, David Geary and Douglas Ober (ed), South Asian History and Culture.
  • 2022. “Monks and Minority Politics” In Vernacular Politics in Northeast India: Tribal Democracies, Ethno-Talk, and Political Prophecy, Jelle J.P Wouters (ed). Oxford University Press.
  • 2022 “Everyday Geopolitics and Cross-border Lives in the Himalayas” In The Oxford Handbook of the Himalayas, Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa (ed). Oxford University Press.
  • 2022. “Cultural Citizenship” In The Routledge Companion to Northeast India, Jelle J.P Wouters and Tanka B Subba (ed). Routledge.
  • 2021. “Himalayan Environmentalism: Buddhism and Beyond”, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 24 (2): 69-90.
  • 2021. “Dhabas, Highways and Exclusion” In Highways and Hierarchies: Ethnographies of Mobility from the Himalaya to the Indian Ocean, Luke Heslop and Galen Murton (ed). Amsterdam University Press, pp. 97-12.
  • 2021. “Homestays in Northeast India: Food, Politics, Gender”, Zubaan Cultures of Peace: Festival of Northeast India
  • 2021. “Pandemic of Inequality and the State: A Response to Maitrayee Chaudhuri’s ‘COVID-19 and Structural Inequalities: Some Reflections on the Practice of Sociology’”, Sociological Bulletin 70 (2): 264-268.
  • 2021.“Relative Indigeneity in Northeast India”, Seminar 740: 66-73
  • 2020. “Producing Monyul as Buffer: Spatial Politics in a Colonial Frontier”, Modern Asian Studies 54(2):432 -470.
  • 2019. “Selective Access: or How States Make Remoteness”, Social Anthropology/ Anthropologie Sociale 27 (2): 204-220.
  • 2018  Introduction to section “Militarization of Borderlands” In Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands, ed. Alexander Horstmann, Martin Saxer, Alessandro Rippa, Routledge, pp. 399-402.
  • 2018. “Bordered Spaces: Spatial Strategies in a Disputed Border” In Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands, ed. Alexander Horstmann, Martin Saxer, Alessandro Rippa, Routledge, pp. 445-453.
  • 2018. “Border Studies and Northeast India” In Sociology of/in Northeast India (special issue), Department of Sociology, Dibrugarh University.
  • 2017. “Robes, Rivers, and Ruptured Spaces” In A Place of Relations, ed. Yasmin Saikia and Amit Baishya, Cambridge University Press, pp. 262-276.
  • 2017. “Monks, Elections, and Foreign Travels: Democracy and the Monastic Order in Western Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India” In Democratization and Cultural Politics in the Himalayas, ed. Vibha Arora and N. Jayaram. Delhi, India: Routledge, pp. 117-134.
  • 2017. “Embattled Frontiers and Emerging Spaces: Transformation of the Tawang Border”, Economic and Political Weekly 52(15): 87-94
  • 2015. “Militarized Borderlands in Asia”, IIAS Newsletter, Leiden, Volume 71, Summer 2015. https://iias.asia/sites/default/files/IIAS_NL71_212223.pdf
  • 2015. with Kerstin Grothmann. “Renaming as Integration” IIAS Newsletter, Leiden, Volume 71, Summer 2015. https://iias.asia/sites/default/files/IIAS_NL71_3233.pdf
  • 2012. “Mobilizing Language, Identifying Region: Use of Bhoti in West Arunachal Pradesh,” Contributions to Indian Sociology 46 (3): 337-363.
  • 2011. “Rethinking Hegemony: A Reflection Piece,” PEAR (Yonsei Journal of International Studies) 3 (2): 237-251.
  • 2011. “Interview with Ruchi Chaturvedi,” http://www.culanth.org/?q=node/423
  • 2006. Borderlanders: Livelihood Issues in the Border Regions, Delhi: Institute of Chinese Studies, Occasional Studies Series, No. 10, December 2006.

Book Reviews & Commentaries

  • 2022. Discussion Comments for Malini Sur, 2021. Jungle Passports, University of Pennsylvania Press. Contributions to Indian Sociology (Forthcoming)
  • 2021. Book review of Sienna Craig, Ends of Kinship: Connecting Himalayan Lives Between Nepal and New York, University of Washington Press, Journal of Asian Studies, 80 (3), August 2021
  • 2021. Book review of Sara Smith, Intimate Geopolitics: Love, Territory, and the Future on India’s Northern Threshold, 2020, Rutgers University Press, Journal of Asian Studies 80 (3), August 2021
  • 2021. Book review of Ashild KolĂ„s (ed). Women, Peace, and Security in Northeast India, 2017. Delhi: Zubaan, Peace Prints, WISCOMP, Delhi
  • 2020. Book review of Dolly Kikon, Living with Coal and Oil: Resource Politics and Militarization in Northeast India, 2019, University of Washington Press, Contributions to Indian Sociology 54(2) 333–337.
  • 2019. Book review of Nikhil Anand,  Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai, 2019, Contributions to Indian Sociology 53, 1 (2019): 217-246

Undergraduate courses

  • Introduction to Anthropology
  • Sociology and the Making of Concepts
  • Social Theories
  • States, Stateless Societies, and the Problems of Power
  • Research Methods
  • Borders and Crossings
  • Travel, Mobility, and Identity
  • Urban Anthropology 
  • Tibetan Studies in India
  • Anthropology of the Himalayas

Graduate Courses

  • Power, Resistance, Legitimacy
  • Research Methodology                            
  • 2016-2018 Research Associate (non-residential), Department of Anthropology and Sociology, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
  • 2015. Charles Wallace India Trust Fellowship, British Council, India, London. 30 June – 22 July 2015.
  • 2013 -2015. Sir Ratan Tata Fellowship, Sociology unit, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, India (Position held for 6 months).
  • 2013. German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Research Grant; Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University, Germany, January – April 2013.
  • 2013. Emory Women’s Club Research Award, 2012-2013, Emory University, U.S.A.
  • 2013. Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, Wenner-Gren Foundation, U.S.A.
  • 2013. Charles R. Jenkins Award, Certificate for Distinguished Achievement. Lamda Alpha Society, Georgia.
  • 2013. Graduate Fellowship 2007-2008, Institute of Critical International Studies, Emory University, U.S.A.
  • 2002-2004. Junior Research Fellowship, University Grants Commission, India.
  • 2000. University Ranker’s Prize – 1st position, B.A. (Hons.) Sociology, University of Delhi.
  • 2000. M.N Srinivas Award for highest score, B.A. Sociology, Miranda House College, University of Delhi.
Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka