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Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor | Department of Anthropology

Thomas Hansen

Faculty Affiliate
King Center on Global Development

Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor
Department of Anthropology

Thomas Hansen is the Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of Anthropology. He founded and directed Stanford’s Center for South Asia from 2010 to 2017. Hansen is an anthropologist of political life, ethno-religious identities, violence, and urban life in South Asia and Southern Africa. He has multiple theoretical and disciplinary interests from political theory and continental philosophy to psychoanalysis, comparative religion, and contemporary urbanism.

Much of professor Hansen’s early fieldwork was done during the tumultuous years of the early 1990s when conflicts between Hindu militants and Muslims defined national agendas and produced frequent violent clashes. Out of this work came two books: The Saffron Wave. Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India (Princeton 1999), and Wages of Violence: Naming and Identity in Postcolonial Bombay (Princeton 2001). Hansen is currently finishing a book on the global spread of notions of popular sovereignty and the rise of illiberal democracy. He is also engaged in long term historical and ethnographic research into ‘vernacular urbanism’ in South Asia.