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Dr Anastasia Piliavsky is a social anthropologist who specialises on India’s democratic politics, political corruption and crime, and the role of vernacular values, especially the hierarchical, in India’s politics and otherwise social life. 

Anastasia studied anthropology at Boston University and at Oxford, where she received her DPhil and taught at Bristol and Cambridge before coming to King’s in 2018. 

She has written about crime, policing and corruption in India, about secrecy and the public sphere, about India’s ‘criminal castes,’ political gangsterism, patronage and democracy, and on social theory and the history of anthropology at large. 

Between 2012 and 2016, she co-Investigated an European Research Council (ERC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded project on democratic cultures in South Asia. She is now developing a large international project on India’s 'Vernacular political vocabularies'. 


Anastasia is interested in India’s vernacular norms of personhood and relatedness, and the way that they orient India’s democratic process. She is especially interested in ways that hierarchical values – idioms of kingship, patronage and divinity – shape how Indian citizens’ conceptions of political representation and responsibility, and their broader visions of social good. She is also now writing about what the distinctive character of India’s democratic thinking shows about democracy as such.



PhD supervision

Anastasia welcomes applicants looking to work ethnographically on India’s democracy, and those interested in studying values, and ideas of personhood and relatedness, in any aspect of contemporary Indian life. 

Further details

See Anastasia's research profile