photo of Nayanika Mathur

Dr Nayanika Mathur

Post:Lecturer B in Social Anthropology (Anthropology)
Location:ARTS C
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Nayanika completed her BA and MA at the University of Delhi and her MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge where she was a Gates Cambridge scholar. Prior to joining Sussex she has held lecturing appointments in Social Anthropology at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh. She has been awarded research fellowships by the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy at Cambridge's Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH).

As a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow Nayanika is on Research Leave over 2017 

To access some of my publications, please see my Academia page



Paper Tiger: Law, Bureaucracy and the Developmental State in Himalayan India,” 2015, Cambridge University Press {Cambridge Studies in Law and Society}

"Crooked Cats: Human-Big Cat Entanglements in the Anthropocene", manuscript under preparation.


Edited Collections

Remaking the Public Good: A New Anthropology of Bureaucracy” guest editor (with Laura Bear) volume 33, no.1, 2015, The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology.

Who Are ‘We’? Reimagining Alterity and Affinity in Anthropology” (with Liana Chua), under contract with Berghahn Books.


Journal Articles/Essays

“Introducing the ‘We’ In and Of Anthropology” (with Liana Chua), introduction to edited collection, Berghahn Books (forthcoming)

“Eating Money: Corruption and its Categorical Other in the Leaky Indian State,” forthcoming in 2017, Modern Asian Studies (special issue on ‘Institutions and Their Discontents in South Asia’).

"1984 Doesn't Equal 2014 + 2016", Economic and Political Weekly, Volume L1, No. 49, 2016, pp. 70-72.

Predation." In Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen Series, Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology website, July 12, 2016.

Give a Woman a Giant Panda”, Anthropology of This Century, January 2016, Issue 15

It’s a Conspiracy Theory and Climate Change: Of Beastly Encounters and Cervine Disappearances in Himalayan India,” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory volume 5, no 1., 2015, pp. 87-111.

Introduction: Remaking the Public Good – A New Anthropology of Bureaucracy,” (with Laura Bear), The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, Volume 33, no.1, 2015, pp. 18-34.

The Reign of Terror of the Big Cat: Bureaucracy and the Mediation of Social Time in the Indian Himalaya,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI) volume 20, no. 1, 2014, pp. 148-165

Transparent-Making Documents and the Crisis of Implementation: A Rural Employment Law and Development Bureaucracy in India,” Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR), volume 35, no. 2, 2012, pp. 167-184.

A ‘Remote’ Town in the Indian Himalaya,” Modern Asian Studies, volume 49, no. 2, 2015, pp. 365 - 392.

"State Debt and the Rural: Two Historical Moments in India." Anthropology News. volume 54, no. 5, 2013.

“Effecting Development: Bureaucratic Knowledges, Cynicism and the Desire for Development in the Indian Himalaya,” in S. Venkatesan and T. Yarrow, eds. Differentiating Development: Beyond an Anthropology of Critique. London: Berghahn, 2012, pp. 193-209.

“Naturalising the Himalaya-as-Border in Uttarakhand,” in David Gellner, ed. Borderlands of Northern South Asia: Non-State Perspectives. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013, pp. 72-93.


Popular Media

A High Court Ban on Killing Man-Eaters will Only Intensify Human-Animal Conflict in the Himalaya, Scroll.In, Jan 03, 2017.

'Colagate': Corruption, an Honest Bureaucrat, and a Deeper Malaise in India, The Conversation, August 23, 206. 

{This article was reproduced widely including in The WireThe Huffington PostThe London School of Economics BlogThe QuintThe British Academy blog}

Why Progressive Laws Produce Bizzare Results, Scoll.In, September 6, 2016

Climate Change Vs. Conspiracy Theory in India.” Open Democracy, September 14, 2015.

Discussion on ‘redefining poverty’, Inside Story, Al Jazeera news channel, May 20, 2011.


Public Engagement

XQs (10 Questions) on my book, Paper Tiger, with Chapati Mystery

Drowning in a Paper Sea: India's Welfare Efforts Failed by It's Peculiar Bureaucracy, Profile of Paper Tiger on the University of Cambridge research highlights site. Reproduced by The Wire 

Podcast on Paper Tiger for the New Books Network (NBN), April 08, 2016.

Podcast and blog post with David Graeber and Laura Bear on austerity states and the anthropology of bureaucracy: “Bureaucrats are the evil sisters of ethnographers”

 Writing Cats, blog post on, November 29, 2015 

 Of Tigeraphernalia and Talking Big Cats, blog post,, February 5, 2014.

Rhinos or Bangladeshis? The Paranoid Style of the Hindu Right, blog post,, March 31, 2014

The Dummies Guide to Conspiracy Theorising, blog post,, November 1, 2013

The Eating of Humans, blog post,, June 28, 2013

Death by Conspiracy, blog post,, May 10, 2013


Review Essays

Privatising ‘Wild’ India,” review of “Saving Wild India,” by Valmik Thapar in Economic and Political Weekly, October 2015, Volume 50, issue 44, pp. 24-26.

“Government of Paper: The Materiality of Bureaucracy in Urban Pakistan,” by Matthew S. Hull in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2015, volume 21, issue 3, pp. 707-708.

“Wall Street at War: The Secret Struggle for the Global Economy” by Alexandra Ouroussoff in Social Anthropology, 2012, volume 20, issue 4, pp. 507-508.

“Nature, Culture and Religion at the Crossroads of Asia,” (ed.) M. Lecomte-Tilouine in European Bulletin of Himalayan Research, 2011, Volume 34.

“The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development and the Practice of Politics,” by T. M. Li in Cambridge Anthropology, 2010, volume 28, Number 2.


British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow (till Jan 2018) and Lecturer in Social Anthropology