Susan Visvanathan
Susan Visvanathan
Chairperson and Professor of Sociology
Centre for the Study of Social Systems,
School of Social Sciences, JNU

Address: 116, Uttarakhand Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi-110067
Tel –91- 11- 26741104 (R) / 26704408 (O)

Academic Training:

Ph.D. – University of Delhi
M. Phil – University of Delhi
M.A. – Jawaharlal Nehru University

Teaching and Research Experience:

• 27 Years since 1983.
• Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (14 Years)
• Sr Lecturer and Head of Department from 1989 to 1997, Hindu College (University of Delhi) (employed for 13 Years by the College)

Award and Honors and Professional Duties:

1. Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi 1989-’92.
2. Hon. Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study 1990-1995
3. Charles Wallace Fellow to Queens University, Belfast 1997
4. Visiting Professor, Maison des Sciences de L’Hommes, Paris June 2004.
5. Member, Board of Studies, Centre for Arts and Aesthetics, JNU 2000-2002
6. Member, Board of Studies, Centre for Linguistics, English Language and Culture Studies, JNU.2002-2004
7. Member, Board of Studies, Centre for French and Francophone Studies JNU. 2004
8. Representative, Standing Committee of Women’s Studies Programme, JNU 1999, 2010
9. Member Board of Studies of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies,JNU 2009
10. Consultant, Centre for Advocacy and Research, New Delhi.
11. Board Member, Abhishiktananda Society, Delhi. 1997 -2005
12. Consultant India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore 1999
13. Consultant Japan Foundation, Delhi 1998
14. Consultant British Council, Delhi.
15. Consultant to Max Hospital, Delhi on Medical Ethics.
16. Former consultant to the World Council of Churches Geneva 1987-’89,
17. to the Oxford University Press, Delhi 1994 to 1999 and from 2009 onwards
18. Vidya Jyothi Institute of Religious Studies, (Society of Jesus) Delhi, board member 1996-’99.
19. Board of Committee for Bioethics in JNU, 2009.
20. Concluded the Essex-JNU negotiations on behalf of CSSS, JNU with MOU signed by Vice-Chancellor.
21. Consultant to IGNOU at the introduction of a new course, 2009.
22. Consultant Editor, Contributions to Indian Society.
23. Organised CSSS/JNU weekly Thursday seminar for seven years, from 1997 to 2005.

Research Guidance:

• Ph.D.s: 6 Awarded 5 in Progress
• M. Phil: 15 Awarded 4 in Progress

Major Themes of Dissertations currently under supervision:

  1. North East Studies on Religion, Land and Law
  2. On Theatre, and Dance as Therapy in Calcutta
  3. On Masculinist Gift Economies in North Malabar
  4. On Third Gender Studies: Hijras in India
  5. Studies on Urbanism and Community with reference to Parsis
  6. Ritual, Peformance and Culture among Communities in Rajasthan
  7. Vaishnavism in Assam
  8. Changing Profile of Religious Culture in Arunachal Pradesh
  9. Gender and the Study of Terrorism
  10. Gender and Life Chances in North India.

Research Projects in progress under UGC- Capacity Build Up Fund, and Centre for Advance Study, CSSS JNU: Globalisation and Small Towns

  1. A Sociological Study of Pallakad in Kerala with regard to questions of agriculture, water management, occupation, and religious identity
  2. A Study of Shimla on specific questions of colonialism, labour and ritual histories, focusing on mission histories and on cultivation of potato and apples in the hills.
  3. Continuing Study of Tiruvannamalai in South India, with regard to multiculturalism, pilgrimage, farming , education and local
  4. A study of weaving and marketing in Kanchipuram, Tiichurapally and Coimbatore.
  5. Metalsmiths (Mirror makers)in Arranamala near Chenganoor town
  6. Fishing communities in and near Allapuzha

A) Books

1. Sociology
2. The Christians of Kerala: History Belief and Ritual among the Yakoba. Oxford University Press Madras 1993. Reprinted 7th time as pb from Oup Delhi in 2010
3. An Ethnography of Mysticism; The journeys of a French monk in India. Indian Institute of Advanced Society, Shimla 1998
4. Structure and Transformation: Theory and Society in India. Oxford University Press. Delhi, 2000. Pb 2010 (ed. Susan Visvanathan)
5. Friendship, Interiority and Mysticism, Orient Longman, (Black Orient Swan) 2007.

B) Fiction

6. Something Barely Remembered: short stories. Flamingo 2000 and Roli IndiaInk, 2000
7. The Visiting Moon, Roli IndiaInk 2002
8. Phosphorus and Stone, Penguin and Zubaaan.2007
9. Seine at Noon, Roli IndiaInk 2007

In Press

10. Children of Nature: Sacred Manifestation and Popular Culture” is in press with Roli.
11. Wisdom of Community, a collection of previously published essays has received positive response from OUP, and is communicated to be of interest to them, while still in the refereeing process.

Editorship of Journals

12. Co-Editor, With Geeti Sen, IIC Quarterly, 1995, issue on Kerala and the issue on Women and the Family 1997.

C) Essays

  1. Pluralism, NMML, Occasional papers, Delhi 1985
  2. Bibliography on Comparative Religion in India, Social Compass, Louvain, 1986
  3. St Thomas and History: Consultant’s Report in Working Papers from the Casablanca meeting of the Dialogue sub-unit, WCC, Geneva, 1989.
  4. Marriage, Birth and Death: Property Rights and Domestic Relationships of the Orthodox/Jacobite Syrian Christians of Kerala.
    EPW June d17, 1989
  5. C.F Andrews in Ecumenicism, Hope in Action, Essays in honour of Mathai Zachariah, National Council of Churches, Nagpur, 1993.
  6. Martin Buber and the Question of Dialogue, NMML Occasional papers, 1993.
  7. The Fishing Struggle in Kerala, in Seminar November 1994,
  8. Missionary Styles and the Problem of Dialogue, IIAS, Shimla, 1995
  9. Legends of St Thomas, IIC Quarterly, 1995.
  10. The Days in JNU, The Years, Popular Prakashan, New Delhi 1996
  11. Women and Work – From Housewifization to Androgyny in EPW vol xxx1 nos 45 and 46 November 9-16, 1996..
  12. Gandhi’s Friendship with Christ’s Faithful Apostle in Asghar Ali Engineer (ed) Gandhi and Communal Harmony, New Delhi, Gandhi Peace
  13. Brave New World, in Miranda House Golden Jubilee Volume 1948-1998. New Delhi 1998.
  14. Riding the Waves: Lives and wives of the Fishing People of Kerala, or how men’s occupations affect women’s lives. in Little Magazine,
    Delhi, 2000.
  15. Workers of the Sea, Seminar, January 2000
  16. The Homogeneity of Fundamentalism, British Colonialism and Mission in India in the 19th century, Studies in History, JNU- Sage, 16 2. N.S 2000 also printed in Essays presented to Ravindra Kumar, Tulika 2000.
  17. Hannah Arendt and the Problem of Our Age Economic and political Weekly, Vol xxxvi, no 16, April 21, 2001.
  18. The Status of Christian Women in Kerala in Arvind Sharma (ed) Women in Indian Religions, OUP 2001
  19. S.K. Rudra, C.F Andrews and M.K. Gandhi; Friendship, Dialogue and Interiority in the Question of Indian Nationalism, in Economic and
    Political Weekly, vol xxxvii, no 34, August 24, 2002
  20. Vast Sargasso Sea. Seminar, March 2003.
  21. India and Fiction, Seminar January 2004.
  22. On writing fiction in Meenakshi Bharat ed. Desert in Bloom: Contemporary Indian Women’s fiction in English, Pencraft, Delhi. 2004.
  23. The Past is Always Alive in Pratima and N.V. Shastri,ed. Usha Prabha, Jayshree Prakashan, Nagpur. 2004
  24. “Foresters and New Orientations to Survival,” Indian Journal of Human Development, Vol 3, No.1, January-June 2009
  25. “A Cast of Characters,” in Remembered Childhood Essays in honour of Andre Beteille edited by Malvika Karlekar, Delhi Oxford University
    Press, 2010

Essays published since 2005

  1. “Des Oiseaux Aquatiques”,Recontr avec l’Inde (ICCR Journal). (translated by Geetha Ganapathy from the English) Vol 34, No 2005.
  2. “L’activisme et le deatachement”, Recontre avel L’Inde (ICSSR
    Journal), Vol 34, 2005.
  3. “Travellers and Pilgrims”, Think India Quarterly, Vol 9, No 4, October-December, 2006, pp10-27.
  4. “Writing for the Fisher People: Intellectuals and the Intelligentsia” Think India, Vol.9(2), pp.55-62.
  5. “Roman Rolland and Gandhi”, Think India, Vol.10 (2) April-June 2007. Pp.35-5
  6. Romain Rolland and Gandhi translated into French, by ICCR Journal in 2007
  7. Weavers and the Fashion Industry in Think India Quarterly Vol 11, 2008
  8. Shakespeare and Music, Think India Quarterly in 2009.

Participation Seminar and Conference Participation:, 2009-2010

  1. ‘Ecology Town Planning and Legal Questions’ in CSSS JNU on 17.9.2009
  2. ‘Swami Abhishiktananda; Social Justice and Human Suffering’, paper read at conference on ‘Swami Abhishiktananda, 1910-1973’ at
    SaccidanandaAshram, Tiricharapally, Tamil Nadu, Jan-10th –Jan 15th 2010, organized by Vatican Monastic Inter-religious dialogue and
    Bettina Bauemer.
  3. ‘Publishing as Creation of Community in Sri Ramanasramam: The Diaries of Suri Nagamma’ in the Conference on ‘Devotion and Dissent in Indian History’, CHS, JNU on 13th March 2010.
  4. Paper on “Uses of the Internet for Social Science” at Seminar on Transcultural and Intermedial Influence, at the Bonjour French
    Science/ Bonjour India Festival, 10th December 2009, JNIAS, JNU
  5. Chaired panel discussion on Politics of Modernity and Popular Cinema: Idioms of Nation-Building, April 22nd, 2009
  6. Lectured on ‘Questions of History, Legend, Myth and Memory among the Christians of Kerala’ on 6th November 2009 at History Society, St Stephens’ College.
  7. Lectured on ‘Shakespeare and Music: Researching Sociological Problems through the inter-net’ at Department of Humanities, IIT, on November 10th, 2009.
  8. Discussant at the seminar Nicholas Roerich in India- His Legacy and Quest at Jamia Millia Islamia Nov.12-13th , 2009
  9. Chaired Workshop on ‘Hind Swaraj Centenary Celebrations’ at CSSS, on 19th November, 2009
  10. ‘Ecological Greening of a Holy Hill: The case of Arunachala in the Annamalais;’ at Staff College on 3rd March 2010.
  11. Discussant at North Eastern Studies Programme seminar on ‘Rituals and Political-Cultural Landscape: Moorings and Identity’ on March 19th, 2010 at IGNCA JNU seminar.
  12. Panelist with Sheba Chhachi, Amar Kanwar, Dilip Simeon on ‘Art in the 21 Century’ organized by Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art at British Council.
  13. Chaired First Session of Ph.D. Scholars’ Seminar on ‘Work in Progress’ at CSSS on March 4-6, 2010.
  14. Chaired Workshop on ‘Representations of Women in Art and Politics’ in CSSS on 23rd March, 2010.
  15. Discussant with William Dalrymple, Hormis Tharakan, and Dalip Cheryan on Syrian Christian Cooking at the Park Hotel on 26th March
  16. Organized Workshop on Representing Women in Art and Politics, Panelists Prof. K. Madhavane, Mr. Binoy Behl, Prof. H.S. Shiv Prakash, Dr. Ratna Raman and Dr. Archna Verma, 23.3.2010. Chaired discussion on ‘Draupadi in South India,’ a talk by Prof. K. Madavane, and a film show on ‘Turai’ or ‘Khol do’ in Tamil by documentary film maker S. Prince.
  17. "Forestation and Educational Practices" in the issue on "Living Together" in Seminar 610, June 2010