I am an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University, where I have been since receiving my PhD from the University of California-Berkeley in 2013. My research and teaching interests fall in the fields of development sociology, political sociology, agrarian political economy, and social theory. I have had a long-standing intellectual and political engagement with the phenomenon of rural land dispossession for “development projects” such as dams and now Special Economic Zones (SEZs). While dispossession has been a marginal topic in sociology, I believe that the increasing global significance of “land grabs” demands a sociology of dispossession that will prove consequential for our understanding of states, capitalism, agrarian change, and political contention in large parts of the world.
My book, Dispossession without Development: Land Grabs in Neoliberal India (Oxford University Press, 2018), seeks to understand the changing nature and increasing significance of land dispossession in post-liberalization India. It is based, in part, on an ethnography of villages dispossessed for an SEZ in Rajasthan. Using the extended case method, it seeks to advance the concept of regimes of dispossession as a way of understanding the relationship between land dispossession and capitalism in comparative perspective.
I have published articles based on this research in Politics and Society, World Development, Development and Change, Journal of Agrarian Change, Journal of Peasant Studies, Economic and Political Weekly, and the Berkeley Journal of Sociology. I have also written on this topic in periodicals and newspapers in India. See here for my op-ed in The Hindu on proposed changes to India’s Land Acquisition Act.
Another project undertaken in collaboration with Marcel Paret and published in International Sociology, uses cross-country survey data to evaluate the extent, geographic contours, and social composition of growing public opposition to neoliberalism in twenty countries during the 1990s. We are currently updating this project for the 2000s.