I study popular sovereignty and political communication. My other interests include cultures of protest, populism, resource politics, and surveillance capitalism. Bangladesh is my primary ethnographic site.
My book, Paradoxes of the Popular: Crowd Politics in Bangladesh (forthcoming, Stanford University Press 2019) is an ethnography of the reconfigurations within contemporary protest politics in South Asia. Here's a description of the book:
"Few places are as politically precarious as Bangladesh, even fewer as crowded. Its 57,000 or so square miles are some of the world’s most inhabited. Often described as a definitive case of the bankruptcy of post-colonial governance, it is also one of the poorest among the most densely populated nations. In spite of an overriding anxiety of exhaustion, there are a few important caveats to the familiar feelings of despair—a growing economy, and an uneven, yet robust, nationalist sentiment—which, together, generate revealing paradoxes. In this book, Nusrat Chowdhury offers insights into what she calls, “the paradoxes of the popular,” which encompass the so-called Bangladesh Paradox to include the constitutive contradictions of popular politics. The focus here is on mass protests, long considered the primary medium of meaningful change in this part of the world. Chowdhury writes provocatively about everyday democracy in Bangladesh in a rich ethnography that studies some of the most consequential protests of the last decade, spanning both rural and urban Bangladesh. By making the crowd its starting point and analytical locus, this book tacks between multiple sites of public political gatherings and pays attention to the ephemeral and often accidental configurations of the crowd. Ultimately, Chowdhury makes an original case for the crowd as a defining feature and a foundational force of democratic practices in South Asia and beyond."
The book covers wider empirical and theoretical grounds than my doctoral dissertation. It had won the Sol Tax Dissertation Award in 2013 from the University of Chicago's Department of Anthropology. You can check out a synopsis here:
Research and Publication
Peer-reviewed Articles/Book Chapters
Forthcoming: “Death, Despair and Democracy in Bangladesh.” In Emotions, Mobilisations, and South Asian Politics. Chapter 14. Edited by Amélie Blom and Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal. Routledge, India. 2019
Forthcoming: “The Ethics of the Digital: Crowds and Popular Justice in Bangladesh.” In Crowds: Ethnographic Encounters. Chapter 9. Edited by Megan Steffen. Bloomsbury Press. 2019.
2016 “Mines and Signs: Resource and Political Futures in Bangladesh.” Special Issue on "Prognosis: Visions of Environmental Futures." Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute. Edited by Andrew Matthews and Jessica Barnes.
2014: “‘Picture-Thinking’: Sovereignty and Citizenship in Bangladesh.” Anthropological Quarterly. Fall 2014 (Volume 87, Issue 4).
2014: “Muslim Women and Violent Protest: Bangladesh.” Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures. General Editor Suad Joseph. Brill Online, 2014.
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.
2019. Paradoxes of the Popular: Crowd Politics in Bangladesh. Stanford University Press (Series: South Asia in Motion).
Forthcoming: Generations: Remaking and Rethinking Bangladesh. Co-edited with Dr. Lotte Hoek (Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Edinburgh). Contracted with Anthem Press, UK.
2014: Red Tape: Bureaucracy, Structural Violence, and Poverty in India. Akhil Gupta. Journal of Anthropological Research. Vol. 70, Fall 2014.
2013: Women Suicide Bombers: Narratives of Violence. Julie Rajan. South Asian Popular Culture. 2013.
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).
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.