Faculty Profile Q&A: Sepideh Bajracharya
July 31, 2012
Name: Sepideh Bajracharya
Title: Assistant Professor in Sociology & Anthropology
Education: Ph.D. 2008 Harvard University; B.A. 1999, Phi Beta Kappa, Wesleyan University
Research & Teaching Interests: Political culture of violence, communal politics, memory, narrative, urban ethnography, anthropology of space, South Asia.
What excites me about joining the L&C community?
The curiosity and conscientiousness that I felt among L&C students during my visit to the campus a few months ago; similarly, the rigor and vibrancy of intellectual exchange that I encountered in my interactions with colleagues across a range of disciplines. I am looking forward to working and collaborating on projects, and teaching courses that lie at the intersection of social anthropology and South Asian/postcolonial studies.
Describe the current trajectory of your scholarly research.
I just finished a book-length manuscript on the public and political culture of neighborhood vigilantism in urban Nepal, as well as a research project about how money circulates and affects notions of social capital and wealth—particularly in terms of gender, class, and caste identity, and concepts of trust, risk, investment—in an untouchable-caste neighborhood indigenous to Kathmandu city, Nepal. The project examines how development, and the conditions of what I call, “economies of need,” intersect with consumer cultures, or what I refer to as, “economies of pleasure.” I have also started a new project that looks into the historical and social ecology of waste, settlement, business, and activism surrounding the two main river systems that run through the Kathmandu Valley.
What kind of hobbies or special activities do you enjoy outside of work?
Writing and reading “outside work;” traveling; walking and hiking; cooking and gardening.
What were your childhood goals/aspirations?
To live in an orchard filled with walnut, pistachio, pomegranate, fig, apple, mulberry, and olive trees such as my grandmother’s generation used to own in Iran (called “baque” in Persian).
What are you listening to in your car right now?
A shuffle of classical and contemporary English, Persian, Hindi, and Nepali songs.
What was your favorite childhood story?
I grew up reading the beautifully illustrated and written English translated tales of the Chinese folk hero “Monkey King Sun Wukong,” Pippi Longstocking, Paddington Bear, and Hindi comic strips.