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Anastasia Piliavsky

Anastasia Piliavsky

AnastasiaDr Anastasia Piliavsky

Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Politics

Anastasia is a social anthropologist who has written about crime, corruption and politics in northern India, publishing on ‘criminal castes,’ political gangsters, patronage and democracy. She is currently preoccupied with the way that endogenous social categories and values shape the course of India’s political life, especially its democratic process. She is focused on ways in which hierarchical values orient Indian citizens’ visions of political representation and responsibility. Anastasia has an abiding interest in policing, secrecy and publicity, the anthropology of morals and values, social theory, vernacular political theory, history and anthropology, and the history of anthropology, all of which she has published about. She is editor of Patronage as politics in South Asia (2014, Cambridge University Press) and author of Nobody’s people: Hierarchy as hope in a society of thieves (forthcoming with Stanford University Press). She is currently writing a book about Indian democracy and the implications of its hierarchical value-base for comparative democratic theory.  

Born and raised in Odessa, in the Soviet Ukraine, Anastasia studied Cultural Anthropology and Religion at Boston University before going on to Oxford, where she did graduate work in Social Anthropology as a Rhodes Scholar. Prior to her arrival at King’s in 2018, she taught at the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge, where she was a Junior Research Fellow at King’s College (2010-2014), Fellow and Director of Studies in Social Anthropology at Girton College (2014-2018), and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Centre of Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (2016-2018). She was also co-author and co-Investigator of an ERC and ESRC-funded project (2012-2016) on democracy and political criminalisation in South Asia. At Cambridge, she ran a seminar series in ‘History and anthropology’ (2011-2013) with historian Alice Taylor and is convening the seminar series in ‘Ordinary-language political theory’ at the India Institute.

She welcomes graduate students who wish to work on Indian politics and otherwise social life, especially those interested in conceptual work and the study of values.


MA in Contemporary India (Director and Convener)

Research methods (from 2019)

Crime, violence & politics in contemporary India (from 2019)

The anthropology of India (from 2019)

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