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Dr Anastasia Piliavsky is a Reader in Social Anthropology and Politics in the King's India Institute. She is a social anthropologist, who works on India’s democracy and the role of vernacular values, especially the hierarchical, in India’s social and political life.

She is author of Nobody's People: Hierarchy as hope in a society of thieves (Stanford 2020), editor of Patronage as politics in South Asia and Principal Investigator of a European Council-funded project on 'India's politics in its vernaculars'. 


Anastasia works on India’s vernacular norms of personhood and relatedness, and the ways in which these orient India’s democratic process. She is especially interested in how hierarchical values – idioms of kingship, patronage and divinity – shape Indian conceptions of political representation and responsibility, and the bigger demotic visions of social and political good. She is working on showing the implications of this work for comparative democratic theory.

  • Political language & concepts
  • Democratic theory
  • Hierarchy & egalitarianism
  • Democratic representation
  • Political responsibility
  • Values & sociality
  • Personhood & relatedness
  • 'Criminal tribes'
  • Kingship
  • Political anthropology
  • History of anthropology



  • Contemporary India
  • Research Methods
  • Violence & Non-Violence in South Asia
  • Dissertation

PhD supervision

Anastasia welcomes applicants who wish to work ethnographically on all aspects of India’s politics, especially those interested in analysing conceptions of representation and responsibility in India's democratic process.

See Anastasia's research students

Further details

See Anastasia's research profile