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I am a visual anthropologist who believes that the study and production of film offer insights into the embodied, sensory dimensions of knowledge production. Moreover, my documentary theory and production courses reflect the idea that the study and production of film have the potential to cultivate empathy and collaboration among contemporary students of anthropology and the wider publics in which they are embedded. In my ethnographic filmmaking practice, I take a collaborative approach that uses Rouchian ideas of ‘shared anthropology,’ blurring the lines between anthropologists and their interlocutors, the observers and the observed. My first ethnographic film, Cast in India, raised questions around the relationship between built infrastructure in New York City and labor infrastructure in Howrah, India in the context of everyday urban objects such as manhole covers. My current film project visualizes the everyday effects of state surveillance and regimes of identification on Pakistani Hindu refugee-migrant bodies in India. The film builds on my dissertation, which examined the relationships between nationalistic policy, state machinery, and modes of religio-national belonging in the context of India’s special visa regimes for religious minorities from Pakistan. As part of my fieldwork, I have conducted collaborative documentary filmmaking workshops with Pakistani Hindu middle-school students to understand and amplify their perspectives on life in India. My scholarship has received generous support from the Fulbright Commission, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the American Institute for Indian Studies, the NYU Vice Provost’s office and several other endowments. My films have screened at colleges and festivals nationally and internationally and my publications have featured in the Journal of Refugee Studies, American Anthropologist, and Visual Anthropology Review.
Documentary, Ethnographic Film, Mobility, Migration, Bureaucracy, Nationalism, South Asia
- Performing and Media Arts
"Neither Here nor There: Pakistani Hindu Refugee Claims at the Interface of the International and South Asian Refugee Regimes." Journal of Refugee Studies, Volume 31, Issue 3, 1 September 2018, Pages 334–352
"Mediating Mobility: Visual Anthropology in the Age of Migration." Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies (2018): 148-150.
"Ishaare: Gestures and Signs in Mumbai" American Anthropologist 119.4 (2017): 756-757.
With Potts, Rowena. "Interview with Shashwati Talukdar." Visual Anthropology Review 31.2 (2015): 201-202.
“Warriors of Goja: Pains and Pleasures of the Sikh Male Body” Sikh Formations 10.2 (2014): 219-231.
Seeing like the State (India, in Pre-Production)
Spy Pigeons (India/Pakistan, in Pre-Production)
1982 (6 min, USA/India, in Post-Production)
Sindhi Kadhi (8 min, India/USA/France, 2018)
Produced by The Grandmas Project
Jodhpur Films (50 min, India/Australia, 2016)
Childhood and Modernity Video Workshop Facilitated by Natasha Raheja
Directed by David MacDougall (Australian National University)
Fishermen’s Right to Know (10 min, USA, 2015)
Produced by the Southern Environmental Law Center
Cast in India (26 min, USA/India, 2014)
Malini Srinivasan (10 min, USA, 2012)