Office: Dewey 214
Hours: M W 2:30-3:30 & by appointment
Pinky Hota, Ph. D. (University of Chicago, 2012) is an anthropologist of South Asia whose research interests lie in understanding interactions between various forms of “politics of recognition”, modes of citizenship and democratic politics in contemporary India. Her current manuscript advances a critique of Indian secularism through an analysis of ethnic identity politics. Funded by the Wenner Gren and Charlotte Newcombe Foundations, this research examines how two forms of politics of recognition via affirmative action and religious politics interact to produce ethnoreligious violence amongst the Kandha tribals (identified as indigenous) and the Scheduled Caste Paanas in Orissa, India. It argues that the Indian state’s constitutional mandates for affirmative action and religious conversion laws have opened up hostilities between two rival ethnic minority groups, which are harnessed through an “intimate politics” by Hindu nationalists to fuel violence against Christians. In so doing, it illustrates how the juridical and affective processes of the secular Indian state are, in fact, uneasily implicated in Hindu nationalist religious politics and lay bare, what scholars have long speculated may be, the “dark side of indigeneity” in India. In the future, Hota aims to examine how the formation of new statehoods provides new modes of articulating rights and entitlements around ethnic place making as well as the processes that have enabled the formation of a pan-Indian Dalit identity within the contemporary Indian polity.
At Smith, Hota teaches a section of Introduction to Cultural Anthropology and classes on religion (focusing on canonical social theory approaches to the study of religion as well as understanding the role of religion in the public sphere Enlightenment to the present day) and contemporary South Asia. She also teaches two upper-level seminars. The first entitled Body pairs theoretical pieces by thinkers such as Mauss, Bourdieu, Foucault and Butler with ethnographic works informed by their scholarship. The second - Madness - examines how the study of psychiatric deviance is central, rather than peripheral, to understanding societies and urges students to query whether psychiatric illness is biomedical fact or social construction. She will also be teaching History of Anthropological Theory in Fall 2014 - 2015.
Hota serves as a faculty member for Smith’s South Asia Concentration. In Spring 2012 - 2013, she organized a Five College panel on sexual violence against women and political change in South Asia.