Swayam Bagaria headshot

Swayam Bagaria

Postdoctoral Fellow

I received my PhD in 2020 from Johns Hopkins University in Anthropology. Although a cultural anthropologist by training, my work is more broadly located at the intersections of contemporary religion, new media affordances and political thought. Since 2014, I have worked on the changing relationship between popular Hinduism and political populism in India through an ethnographic and textual examination of the regnant deification of the past customary practice of widow burning.

My other interests include semiotic paradigms in Sanskrit aesthetics and ritual, philosophical anthropology, and disparate genealogies of social theory. Further afield, I am also at work in devising a quantitative and qualitatively inspired side project on the relation between cultural reflexes and the 'experience economy' in big data and machine language environments.

My training in anthropology has taught me that the best place to feel the force of ideas is in the rough ground of social life. My pedagogical inspiration arises from this nugget of conviction and I treat the classroom as a space in which it is possible to decelerate and reckon with the messy life of ideas with more patience and appreciation without settling into an easy explanation. I believe that the classroom is better thought of as a habitable environment for the growth of a question rather than a means to arrive at a cozy answer.