Ananya Vajpeyi


Ananya Vajpeyi is the Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow 2017-18 and will be at CRASSH in Michaelmas Term 2017 and Easter 2018.

I am working on a political biography of Sanskrit, aimed at narrating the long and continuing life of this language from ancient times to the present. What makes the language live despite its purported death, what makes it modern despite its origins and efflorescence in the remote past, what allows it to travel outside of the Indian subcontinent for as long as it has existed, and what lifts it out of the dead letter of ritual and scholasticism into the seething battleground of religion and politics in India today? The contemporary climate of reaction and revivalism in India (and worldwide) gives Sanskrit a new lease of life. But the role that this classical language is expected to play in a majoritarian regime of the Hindu Right forces us to revisit its long history and reimagine its possible futures.  


ANANYA VAJPEYI is a Fellow and Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi. 
Ananya Vajpeyi works in the areas of intellectual history, political theory and critical philology. She has multiple ongoing book projects, on caste and social inequality in India from precolonial to modern times, on the ideas of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, and on the political life of Sanskrit. 
Vajpeyi was educated at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (MA), Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar (MPhil), and the University of Chicago (PhD). She is trained in the study of South Asian and European languages and literatures. 
She has taught at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, in the history department at the University of Massachusetts (Boston), and at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. Most recently she was a Visiting Professor in South Asian and North African Studies at the University of Venice, Ca' Foscari (Spring 2014).
Vajpeyi has held post-doctoral fellowships at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, JNU and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. She has been an IDRC visiting fellow at CSDS, a senior fellow with the American Institute of Indian Studies, and a Kluge Fellow at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, Washington DC in 2013 and 2014. Most recently, Vajpeyi she was a Global Ethics Fellow with the Carnegie Council on Ethics in International Affairs, New York, from 2014 to 2017.
Her first book Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern India was named book of the year 2012 by The Guardian and The New Republic. It received the 41st Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize from Harvard University Press, the Tata First Book Award for Non-Fiction (2013), and the Crossword Award for Non-Fiction (2013).

Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow 2017-18


September 2017 - July 2018


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