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Jayaseelan Raj

Dr Jayaseelan Raj

Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and International Development


Jay is a senior lecturer in Anthropology and International Development. Before joining King's, he was a professor at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), University of Göttingen, Germany. Previously, he was an assistant professor at the Centre for Development Studies, India and a postdoctoral research fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is also Fellow in the GRNPP project at the Department of Anthropology, School of Oriental and African Studies, London. 

Jay holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Bergen, Norway. He is also associated with the Egalitarianism Project based in Bergen Anthropology. He was recently awarded the New India Foundation Fellowship to write a book on Dalits and State in Kerala.


  • Plantation systems and agrarian change
  • Social inequality, discrimination, and racial capitalism
  • Identity, citizenship, and social movements
  • Anthropology of labour, migration, and development
  • Economic crises in the Global South
  • Anthropology of state, violence, and welfare
  • Ethnographic methods India/South Asia

Jay has been conducting ethnographic research on agrarian and industrial transformations in South India. His book Plantation Crisis: Ruptures of Dalit Life in the Indian Tea Belt (UCL Press, 2022), has been briefed in Nature as one of the best five books on violent conservation, as it offers a unique and richly detailed analysis of the profound, multi-dimensional sense of crisis felt by those who are at the bottom of global plantation capitalism and caste hierarchy.

His co-authored book, Ground Down by Growth: Tribe, Caste, Class and Inequality in 21st Century India (Pluto Press 2017 and OUP 2018), was selected as one of the top ten non-fiction of 2018 by The Hindu, a popular daily in India. Jay's articles and commentaries have appeared in a number of reputed journals and volumes including JRAI, Journal of Agrarian Change and Critique of Anthropology.



  • 5YYD0009 Development Issues in South Asia


  • 6YYD0032 Race, Gender And Development
  • 7YYDN046 Race, Gender And Development Undergraduate

PhD Supervision

Jay is interested in supervising students in the following areas:

  • Politics of labour Economic crises and precarity
  • Labour migration
  • Ethnicity and citizenship
  • Urban and rural marginality
  • Agrarian and industrial transformations in South Asia

Further Details

See Jay's research profile