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Dr James Staples

Dr James Staples
Reader - Anthropology

Marie Jahoda 137

Research area(s)

  • South Asia
  • Medical anthropology (leprosy, disability, the body and pain)
  • Suicide
  • Anthropology of food
  • Biography and life history

Research Interests

I am a social anthropologist with a regional interest in South Asia and a long-standing fascination in how bodily differences are experienced, socially and viscerally, that continues to shape my work. I return regularly to the South Indian leprosy colony I have been visiting since 1984 to pursue ongoing fieldwork that has taken me in several directions, including a study of suicide; ongoing work on food and social mobility; and the writing of a detailed biographical account of a leprosy-affected man’s life. My current project explores how beef-eating Christians, Muslims and Dalits in South India are experiencing the State's clampdown on cattle slaughter, alongside vigilante attacks from cow-protectionists.

Research grants and projects

Grants

Project details

British Academy (SG-161306) Holy cows and chicken Manchuria: food and social mobility in provincial South India - James Staples (PI)  £6,154.37

This project develops my existing work on food in South Asia by documenting and then analysing how major socio-economic and ecological changes in the region – beginning with the Green Revolution in the late 1960s and continuing through the liberal economic reforms of the 1990s and beyond – also transform how people consume and relate to food on an everyday basis. In particular, through life history interviews and participant observation I aim to explore how the people I work with in rural and small-town South India, often on the peripheries of what was described as an ‘emergent middle class’, utilise food and dining relationships to assert positive identities and affect social mobility.

Completed:

British Academy (SG-47129) Suicide, youth and farmers in South India£2,606 July 2007 - September 2009 James Staples (PI)

Disabled lives: understanding disability through ethnographic biography2009 - 2010 James Staples (PI)