SOAS, University of London
Subir Sinha is Reader in the Theory and Politics of Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Hailing from Bihar in India, his first degree is in History from Delhi University. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania and then at Northwestern University, obtaining an MA and a PhD in Political Science from the latter. He has taught at the University of Vermont, was a Fellow at the Institute of Agrarian Studies at Yale University, and held a visiting position in the Department of Politics at the University of Turin. His early work was movements of the rural poor for common property rights to nature, inspired by ideas from Gandhi and Liberation Theology, resulting in papers in the Journal of Peasant Studies, one of them prize-winning. Subsequently, he turned to looking at the concept of ‘subaltern’, originally enunciated in relation to colonial rule, in the context of India’s postcolonial modernity. These engagements led to his long-term project of providing a postcolonial theory of the commons. His engagement with Marxist and postcolonial political economy resulted in a collection in the journal Critical Sociology, and other papers on the question of ‘the working class’ – its composition, consciousness and political subjectivity – in contemporary India. Within the overall theme of postcolonial capitalism and political subjectivity, he is currently engaged in a project of exploring the political subjects of authoritarian populism, and the role of social media in their formation. Papers from this project have appeared, among other places, in the International Journal of Communication, and Geoforum, and form the framing of a special issue of Seminar magazine. Currently he is writing a paper challenging the use of the ‘grab’ metaphor in Indian extractive economies, an essay on social media’s transformation of the Indian public sphere, and another on ‘bhakt subjectivity’. His shorter writings have appeared in The Conversation and Outlook magazine. His interviews and writings have been translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, and he has appeared on Indian, British, French, Turkish and Arab television.
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