Hayden Kantor

Postdoctoral Associate, Global Engaged Learning and Research


I'm a sociocultural anthropologist researching  the relationship between capitalism, food, and ethics in South Asia. I received my Ph.D. from Cornell's Department of Anthropology in May 2016. My dissertation, “‘We Earn Less than We Eat:’ Food, Farming, and the Caring Family in Bihar, India,” examined food and farming practices to show how rural people in the North Indian state of Bihar articulate an ethics of care in the face of precarious conditions. The Wenner-Gren Foundation and the American Institute for Indian Studies funded 16 months of archival and ethnographic research. The title quote points to a shifting calculus in rural households in which well-being is framed not in terms of agricultural output, but off-farm income. I argue that even as they prepare for a future beyond agriculture and migrate beyond the village, they uphold an ethos of resourcefulness that they consider a defining characteristic of rural Bihar, and one essential for caring for the family. Currently, I am working on turning my dissertation into a book. Meanwhile, my next project will extend my exploration of food ethics through an ethnography of Indian food companies offering farm-to-table foods for a market of urban, middle-class consumers.

As the Postdoctoral Associate for Engaged Learning in the Department of Anthropology, my role will be to lead the development of a service-learning in the department. I look forward to working with the faculty and community/campus partners to foster opportunities for experiential learning that allows students to develop their own anthropological skill-set through real world encounters, both in Ithaca and abroad.

Research Focus

  • Agricultural futures
  • Anthropology of the everyday
  • Bihar, India, South Asia
  • Capitalism
  • Food ethics
  • Kinship
  • Religion and ritual