Nayanika’s current research project is a comparative analysis of national identity projects and the forms of conspiratorial theorizing against the state they allow for. Specifically, she plans to undertake ethnographic research on India’s ambitious new biometric-ID project and compare it with the now-scrapped UK Identity Cards Act 2006. This research will ask why and how has the introduction of new IDs premised on new technologies allowed for multifarious critiques of democracy and the state; what are the specific contours of the conspiracy theories new IDs give rise to; and under what conditions are states able to fend off clamors of conspiracy by the state against its own citizens (India) and how and when do they succumb to it (UK)?


Nayanika Mathur is a British Academy postdoctoral fellow and postdoctoral research fellow on the project ‘Conspiracy and Democracy: History, Political Theory and Internet Research’.

She completed her PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in 2010. Before joining CRASSH she lectured in Social Anthropology at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh. Her doctoral research, based on eighteen months of fieldwork in India, traces the process whereby India’s largest anti-poverty legislation was implemented through a portrayal of the everyday life of the development bureaucracy of a Himalayan state. Her research interests are centered upon the study of the state, law, bureaucracy, human-animal conflict, materiality, new technologies, and government with an area interest in India and the Himalaya.



Paper Tiger: Law, Bureaucracy and the Developmental State in the Indian Himalaya (2015) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press {Cambridge Studies in Law and Society}

Edited Collections

Remaking the Public Good: A New Anthropology of Bureaucracy

(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 Review}

Journal Articles

“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.

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

“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.

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

Book Chapters

“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.

Book Reviews

“Wall Street at War: The Secret Struggle for the Global Economy” by Alexandra Ouroussoff in Social Anthropology, 2013

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

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

“Government of Paper: The Materiality of Bureaucracy in Urban Pakistan,” by Matthew S. Hull in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (forthcoming).


Tel: +44 1223 766886