Prof. Rupa Viswanath

Rupa Viswanath is Professor at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS) at the University of Göttingen, and a Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College at the University of Cambridge. She heads an interdisciplinary research cluster on Inequality and Diversity, and runs the Historical Sociology study focus of the CeMIS master’s program in Modern Indian Studies with Prof. Ravi Ahuja. Prior to joining CeMIS in 2011, Viswanath taught in the South Asia Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2023, she was named an Honorary Professor of History by the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh. She is currently (2022–2024) serving as Director of the M. S. Merian International Center for Advanced Studies in New Delhi.

Prof. Viswanath’s research interests include histories of slavery in South Asia, and the politics of its historiography; the political economy of caste; agrarian change; welfare and social control in South and Southeast Asia; state-based classification; comparative racialization; minorities and political representation; class power and state structure; racialized violence. Her current book project investigates the reproduction of class domination through caste-based violence and welfare in postcolonial south India.

Prof. Viswanath’s 2014 monograph, The Pariah Problem: Caste, Religion and the Social in Modern India, (Columbia University Press) demonstrated how colonial state agents and Indian landlords ensured the reproduction of agrarian domination of the lowest castes in colonial South India. It was the subject of a roundtable in Modern Asian Studies in 2021, has been reviewed in a range of academic journals and newspapers, and was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title in 2014. Many of her other writings are available on her academia page