203B Morgan Hall
PO Box: AC# 2226
Nusrat S. Chowdhury
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Departmental affiliation:Anthropology and SociologyAmherst College
I received my PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, MA from University of Texas at Austin, and BA from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. All three degrees have been in Anthropology, although I was also a French major at college. My early education took place in Bangladesh which has long been my primary research site as well as home.
At University of Chicago I taught courses in political theory and international studies. Most recently, I taught Anthropology at Northwestern University focusing more on South Asia's contemporary public political life. Since joining Amherst, I have taught courses on the anthropology of natural wealth, South Asian ethnographies, and contemporary topics in anthropology, a course that follows the conceptual and theoretical shifts in the discipline. I plan to teach courses on anthropological perspectives on money, South Asian public culture, Subaltern Studies, anthropology of energy, political anthropology, and postcolonial democracies.
My ongoing research focuses on a mass protest movement against open pit coal mining and everyday ethical negotiations in a place called Phulbari in northern Bangladesh. The confrontations between the state and the people, the intimacy of corruption and development, and the nature of democratic thought and practice in a country like Bangladesh make Phulbari a fecund site where discourses of political crisis and energy crisis intersect and shape each other. This has been the focus of my doctoral work and will form the core of my book. The dissertation won the Sol Tax Dissertation Award 2013 from the University of Chicago's Department of Anthropology. You can check out a review here:
I am also formulating a second project on the ship-breaking industry in Bangladesh. One of the largest in the world, it serves as the main source of steel for the country while creating hazardous conditions for the immediate environment and the workers involved. Moving away from conventional sites of resource extraction, I am now interested in the cultural valences of recycling as another form of resource-making and how it encapsulates the nature of global capitalism.
Awards and Honors
(2013) Sol Tax Dissertation Award. Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago. (2009-2010) Fellow. Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation; (2008-2009) Committee on Southern Asian Studies (COSAS) Dissertation Write-Up Fellowship. University of Chicago; (2006) Overseas Dissertation Research Grant. The Dean’s Office. The Division of Social Sciences, University of Chicago; (2004) Leiffer Pre-dissertation Field Research Award. Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago; (2002-2003) Fellow. AAUW (formerly known as the American Association of University Women) International Fellowship; (2003-2005) Committee on Southern Asian Studies Annual Fellowship. University of Chicago; (2002) Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Pre-dissertation Fellowship for Research and Training in Bangladesh
Scholarly and Professional Activities
Forthcoming "'Picture-Thinking': Sovereignty and Citizenship in Bangladesh." In Anthropological Quarterly.
n.d. "'They Went Directly Into Accident': Rethinking the Accidental in Mass Politics." Submitted to American Ethnologist.
n.d. “Revealing Powers: Money and Morality in Phulbari, Bangladesh.” In preparation for publication.
2008 “Pashcimer Najare: Naribadi Chinta o Ouponibeshik Discourse.” Bengali translation of “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Thought and Colonial Discourse” by Chandra Talpade Mohanty. In Muktoshwar. No. 2. Year 1. Samhati Publication. Dhaka, Bangladesh.
2002 “Understanding the Experience of Household Food Insecurity in Rural Bangladesh Leads to a Measure Different from That Used in Other Countries.” Co-authored with Edward Frongillo et al. Journal of Nutrition. 2003: 133, 4158-4162.
2013 Women Suicide Bombers: Narratives of Violence. V.G. Julie Rajan. New York: Routledge. 2012. South Asian Popular Culture.
2012 In the Shadows of the State: Indigenous Politics, Environmentalism, and Insurgency in Jharkhand, India. Alpa Shah. PoLar: The Political and Legal Anthropology Review. Spring 2012 (Vol. 35, Issue 1)
2009 Limiting Secularism: The Ethics of Coexistence in Indian Literature and Film. Priya Kuman. In South Asia News. The University of Chicago South Asia Outreach Publication. Volume 22. Numbers, 1 and 2, 2008-2009.
2006 The Gendered Nation: Contemporary Writings from South Asia. Neluka Silva. South Asia News. The University of Chicago South Asia Outreach Publication. Fall-Winter 2006
2005 God Willing: The Politics of Islamism in Bangladesh. South Asia News. Ali Riaz. The University of Chicago South Asia Outreach Publication. Spring-Summer 2005.
Other relevant publications
2011 “Seen from Below: Some notes on the Bangladesh state.” The New Age Independence Day Supplement (Bangladesh). March 26, 2011.
2008 “Seeing, Remembering, Letting Go.” Op-Ed. The New Age Victory Day Special. (Bangladesh). December 16, 2008.
2008 "Love in the Time of Capital." Op-Ed. The New Age (Bangladesh). April 14, 2008.
2013 American Ethnological Society/APLA Annual Meeting, Chicago, 2013.
Paper Title: “‘Picture-Thinking’: Sovereignty and Citizenship in Bangladesh.”
2012 American Anthropological Association Meeting, San Francisco, Organizer of "Accidental Politics."
Paper Title: Wounds of Encounters: Accident as Politics in Bangladesh.
2012 "From Meydan Tahrir to Wisconsin: Rethinking Revolution, Democracy, and Citizenship." Cornell University Graduate Student Conference in Political Theory. Ithaca, NY. April 27-28, 2012.
2011 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, CA.
Paper Title: Mines and Signs: Phulbari and the Politics of (In)visibility in Bangladesh.
2011 Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI.
Paper title: Photography and the Nationalization of Death in Bangladesh.
2010 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA.
Paper title: Foreign Money and Local Protests in Phulbari, Bangladesh.
2010 Annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI.
Paper title: Kasu Mia’s Citizenship: The state as a joke in contemporary Bangladesh.
2010 Discussant. Panel III: “Force and Law” in “Politics in Africa: A Reexamination on the 70th Anniversary of African Political Systems.” University of Chicago, April 30-May 1, 2010.
2009 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
Paper title: Naming the “collaborator” in Phulbari, Bangladesh.
2009 Discussant. “Identity: Who’s afraid of it?” American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
2009 Organizer/Panelist: “Spectacles of Transparency.” Annual South Asia Conference, Madison WI.
Paper title: A Nobel Laureate’s Letters and the Politics of Transparency in Bangladesh.
2003 Co-Organizer/Panelist. Forgetting Bengal. American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL.
Paper title: “To see the surrender film or not to?”: Anxiety and erasure in representing 1971.
Workshops and Seminars
2013 Inter-Asia Faculty Seminar of the Five College Consortium. Amherst College.
Paper Title: “Accidental Politics.”
2012 Discussant. “Gacaca: Genocide.” African Studies Workshop. University of Chicago. Winter 2012.
2011 Speaker, Invited Roundtable: Mehr Jaan 71, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Bangladesh. Annual South Asia Conference, Madison 2011.
2011 Workshop on the Global Environment. The University of Chicago, Winter, 2011. Paper Title: “Mines and Signs: The Politics of (In)visibility in Phulbari, Bangladesh.”
2010 Department of Anthropology. New York University. November 2011.
2010 Speaker, Invited Roudtable: New Directions in the Study of Bangladesh’s Society, History, and Culture. Annual South Asia Conference, Madison 2010.
2010 Moderator. “Iron Red Tape: Buearucracy and the Shape of the World.” An interdiscplinary panel discussion on bureaucracy on the occasion of Jan Banning and Will Tinneman's exhibition "Bureaucratics." University of Chicago. Spring 2010.
2010 The Human Rights Workshop. The University of Chicago. Spring 2010. Paper Title: “Democracy’s Mediumship.”
2010 Discussant. “On Affective Labor in Post-Fordist Italy” by Andrea K Muehlbach. The Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT). University of Chicago. Spring 2010.
2009 Politics, Communication, and Society Workshop. The University of Chicago. Autumn, 2009. Paper title: “Morality of Money, Politics of Value: Notes on “resistance” from contemporary Bangladesh.”
2005 Discussant. “Subaltern History as Political Thought” by Dipesh Chakrabarty, presented at Colonialisms workshop. The University of Chicago. Spring 2005.
Professional and other services
2013 Associate Editor. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory. www.haujournal.org
2012 Reviewer for Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute and South Asia.
2008-2009 Coordinator. South Asia Seminar Series, and Theory and Practice in South Asia (TAPSA) Graduate Student Workshop. The University of Chicago.