Explore a selection of Arjun Appadurai’s books and edited volumes. Please visit the CV page for a complete list of work.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Verso (March 12, 2013)

This major collection of essays, a sequel to Modernity at Large and Fear of Small Numbers, is the product of ten years’ research and writing, constituting an important contribution to globalization studies. Appadurai takes a broad analytical look at the genealogies of the present era of globalization through essays on violence, commodification, nationalism, terror and materiality. Alongside a discussion of these wider debates, Appadurai situates India at the heart of his work, offering writing based on firsthand research among urban slum dwellers in Mumbai, in which he examines their struggle to achieve equity, recognition and self-governance in conditions of extreme inequality. Finally, in his work on design, planning, finance and poverty, Appadurai embraces the “politics of hope” and lays the foundations for a revitalized, and urgent, anthropology of the future.

“Arjun Appadurai has fathered yet another intellectually luxuriant book.”—Achille Mbembe, University of Witwatersrand

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Co-editor (with Arien Mack)
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Rupa & Co. (April 12, 2012)

India in the twenty-first century is perhaps more than at any other time in its history a place of contradictions. On the one hand, it is perceived as a rising superpower, on the other, it is classified as a third-world country. Indian writing in English is flourishing, but classical languages, such as Sanskrit, seem to find no takers anymore. While every Indian citizen has the right to vote during election time, Dalits have to often struggle for their rights and dignity, more than sixty years after untouchability was abolished. These issues and counter-issues, and more, are discussed in this anthology by some of the most informed and insightful commentators on India: Ajit Balakrishnan, Sheldon Pollock, Gopal Guru, Ranjani Mazumdar, and Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, among others. Taken together, the essays in this volume illustrate why the country’s achievements should be seen only in the context of its problems, in order to get a complete picture of contemporary India.

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Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (December 3, 2007)

Although temples have been important in South Indian society and history, there have been few attempts to study them within an integrated anthropological framework. Professor Appadurai develops such a framework in this ethnohistorical case study, in which he interprets the politics of worship in the Sri Partasarati Svami Temple, a famous ancient Sri Vaisnava shrine in India. The author uses the methods and concepts of both cultural anthropology and social history to construct a model of institutional change in South Asia under colonial rule. Focusing on the problem of authority as a cultural concept and as a managerial reality, Professor Appadurai considers some classic problems of South Asian anthropology: problems of deference, sumptuary symbolism, and religious organization. In addition, he addresses such issues as the nature of conflict under a hybrid colonial legal system, the political implications of sumptuary disputes, and the structure of relations between polity and religion in pre-modern South Asia. These aspects of the study should interest a broad range of scholars.

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Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Duke University Press (May 24, 2006)

The period since 1989 has been marked by the global endorsement of open markets, the free flow of finance capital and liberal ideas of constitutional rule, and the active expansion of human rights. Why, then, in this era of intense globalization, has there been a proliferation of violence, of ethnic cleansing on the one hand and extreme forms of political violence against civilian populations on the other? Fear of Small Numbers is Arjun Appadurai’s answer to that question. A leading theorist of globalization, Appadurai turns his attention to the complex dynamics fueling large-scale, culturally motivated violence, from the genocides that racked Eastern Europe, Rwanda, and India in the early 1990s to the contemporary “war on terror.” Providing a conceptually innovative framework for understanding sources of global violence, he describes how the nation-state has grown ambivalent about minorities at the same time that minorities, because of global communication technologies and migration flows, increasingly see themselves as parts of powerful global majorities.

“Arjun Appadurai is already known as the author of striking new formulations which have greatly illuminated contemporary global developments, notably in Modernity at Large. In this new book, he tackles the most burning and perplexing problems of collective violence which beset us today. The book is alive with new and original ideas, essential food for thought not just for scholars, but for all concerned with these issues.”—Charles Taylor, author of Modern Social Imaginaries

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Paperback: 362 pages
Publisher: Duke University Press (September 3, 2001)

Edited by one of the most prominent scholars in the field and including a distinguished group of contributors, this collection of essays makes a striking intervention in the increasingly heated debates surrounding the cultural dimensions of globalization. While including discussions about what globalization is and whether it is a meaningful term, the volume focuses in particular on the way that changing sites—local, regional, diasporic—are the scenes of emergent forms of sovereignty in which matters of style, sensibility, and ethos articulate new legalities and new kinds of violence.

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Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (November 15, 1996)

Offering a new framework for the cultural study of globalization, Modernity at Large shows how the imagination works as a social force in today’s world, providing new resources for identity and energies for creating alternatives to the nation-state, whose era some see as coming to an end. Appadurai examines the current epoch of globalization, which is characterized by the twin forces of mass migration and electronic mediation, and provides fresh ways of looking at popular consumption patterns, debates about multiculturalism, and ethnic violence. He considers the way images-of lifestyles, popular culture, and self-representation-circulate internationally through the media and are often borrowed in surprising (to their originators) and inventive fashions.

“Masterful’ might be a correct description of Arjun Appadurai’s book, not simply because it is a masterful anthropological work based on social science, but also because it strives to be a master narrative of modernity.”—XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics

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Co-editor (with M. Mills and F. Korom)
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (July 1, 1991)

The authors cross the boundaries between anthropology, folklore, and history to cast new light on the relation between songs and stories, reality and realism, and rhythm and rhetoric in the expressive traditions of South Asia.

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Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 29, 1988)

The meaning that people attribute to things necessarily derives from human transactions and motivations, particularly from how those things are used and circulated. The contributors to this volume examine how things are sold and traded in a variety of social and cultural settings, both present and past. Focusing on culturally defined aspects of exchange and socially regulated processes of circulation, the essays illuminate the ways in which people find value in things and things give value to social relations. By looking at things as if they lead social lives, the authors provide a new way to understand how value is externalized and sought after. As the editor argues in his introduction, beneath the seeming infinitude of human wants, and the apparent multiplicity of material forms, there in fact lie complex, but specific, social and political mechanisms that regulate taste, trade, and desire. Containing contributions from American and British social anthropologists and historians, the volume bridges the disciplines of social history, cultural anthropology, and economics, and marks a major step in our understanding of the cultural basis of economic life and the sociology of culture.

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Read a selection of Arjun Appadurai’s journal articles. Please visit the CV page for a complete list of work.

2013 “Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East,” Volume 33, Number 2, 2013, pp. 137-139. Duke University Press.  pdf >

2012 “The Spirit of Calculation”, Cambridge Anthropology, Volume 30, Number 1, Spring 2012 , pp. 3-17(15).

2011 “The Ghost in the Financial Machine”, Public Culture Volume 23, Number 3 65: 517-539  pdf >

2011 “What Does the Nano Want? Design As a Tool For Future-Building”, AAP (Architecture, Art, Planning), Cornell University (Summer 2011)

2011 “How Histories Make Geographies”, Transcultural Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1. University of Heidelberg, On-Line Publication.

2011 “Our Gandhi, Our Times,” Public Culture 23:2. Duke University Press.  pdf >

2010 “Dialogue, Risk and Conviviality” in Can There Be Life Without the Other? Antonio Pinto Ribeiro, Editor. Carcanet Press, Manchester.

2009 “The Right to Research.” in Globalization, Societies and Education.  pdf >
Volume 4 (2) July.

2007 “Hope and Democracy,” Public Culture 19:1. Duke University Press.  pdf >

2006 “The Thing Itself,” in Public Culture. Winter 18.1.  pdf >

2006 “A man behind scapes: An Interview with Arjun Appadurai.” Tehri Rantanen, Global Media and Communication. 2: 7-19.

2006 “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy,” in Media and Cultural Studies: Keywords, eds. Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner. Blackwell Publishing.

2005 “The Thing Itself,” in ARTIndia. Volume IX. Issue IV.

2005 EIDOS Interview with Arjun Appadurai. “Glocalisation” Issue No. 1. St. Xavier’s College Mumbai.

2005 “Materiality in the Future of Anthropology,” in Commodification: Things, Agency and Identities. (The Social Life of Things Revisited) eds. Wim van Binsbergen and Peter Geschiere. LIT Verlag.

2004 “Minorities and the Production of Daily Peace,” in Feelings Are Always Local, V2_Publishing/NA I Publishers, Rotterdam.

2003 “I&I Interview with Arjun Appadurai,” Items and Issues, 4 (4), Winter 2003/2004: 24-27.

2003 “The Capacity to Aspire,” in Culture and Public Action, eds. V. Rao and M. Walton. Stanford University Press.

2003 “Archive and Aspiration,” in Information is Alive, Joke Brouwer and Arjen Mulder (Editors): 14-25. Rotterdam: V2_Publishing/NAI Publishers.

2002 “The Right to Participate in the Work of the Imagination” (Interview with Arjen Mulder), TransUrbanism: 33-46. Rotterdamn: V2_Publishing/NAI Publishers.

2002 “Cultural Diversity: A Conceptual Platform,” UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Cultural Diversity Series #1. Paris: UNESCO.  pdf>

2002 “Broken Promises,” Foreign Policy, September/October: 42-44.  pdf >

2002 “Deep Democracy: Urban Governmentality and the Horizon of Politics,” Environment and Urbanization 13 (2), October 2001: 23-43.  pdf >

2002 “Deep Democracy: Urban Government and the Horizon of Politics,” Public Culture 14 (1): 21-47.  pdf >

2001 “The Globalization of Archaeology and Heritage: A Discussion with Arjun Appadurai,” in Journal of Social Archaeology. 1 (1):35-49.

2000 (with Katerina Stenou) “Sustainable Development and the Future of Belonging,” in World Culture Report 2000. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 111-123.

2000 “Globalization and Area Studies: The Future of a False Opposition.” Wertheim Lecture 2000. Amsterdam: Centre for Asian Studies.

2000 “Savoir, circulation et biographie collective,” L’Homme. 156: 29-38.  pdf >

2000 “Spectral Housing and Urban Cleansing: Notes on Millennial Mumbai,” in Public Culture, Special Issue on Cosmopolitanism, (Eds.: C. Breckenridge, H. Bhabha, D. Chakrabarty, S. Pollock). 12 (3): 627-651.  pdf >

2000 “Grassroots Globalization and the Research Imagination,” in Public Culture, Special Issue on Globalization, (Ed.: Arjun Appadurai). 12 (1):1-19  pdf >

2000 “The Grounds of the Nation-State: Identity, Violence and Territory,” Nationalism and Internationalism in the Post-Cold War Era. K. Goldmann, U. Hannerz, and C. Westin (Eds.). London: Routledge.

1999 “The Bomb, Bombay, Mumbai,” Fellow Observer (Open Society Institute, New York) II: I: 10-11.

1999 “Gift Trapped,” University of Chicago Magazine December: 35-37.

1999 “Historical Memory, Global Movements and Violence: Paul Gilroy and Arjun Appadurai in Conversation,” Interview by V. Bell. Theory, Culture & Society 16(2): 21-40.

1999 “Public Culture,” Oxford India Companion to Sociology and Social Anthropology. Veena Das (Ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

1999 (Reprint, with James Holston) “Cities and Citizenship,” Cities and Citizenship. J. Holston (Ed.). Durham and London: Duke University Press.

1999 “Globalization and the Research Imagination,” International Social Science Journal, 160 (June 1999).

1998 “How to Live Together: An Interview with Arjun Appadurai,” Interview by W. Burszta, F. Kujawinski, and T. Tabako. 2B (To Be): A Journal of Ideas 13: 106-112.

1998 (Translation). “Globale ethische Räume,” Perspektiven der Weltgesellschaft. U. Beck (Ed.). Germany: Suhrkamp.

1998 “Full Attachment,” Public Culture, Winter, 10:2.  pdf >

1998 “Dead Certainty: Ethnic Violence in the Era of Globalization,” Public Culture, Winter, 10:2.  pdf >

1997 (Translation – Chinese). “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy,” Identity and Public Culture. S. C. K. Chan (Ed.). Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.

1997 (Translation). “Notas para uma geografia pós-nacional,” Novos Estudos. 49 (November).

1997 “The Research Ethic and the Spirit of Internationalism,” Items, Social Science Research Council, December, 51:4 (Part I), 55-60.

1997 “Fieldwork in the Era of Globalization,” Anthropology and Humanism, 22:1.

1997 “The Colonial Backdrop,” Afterimage, March/April, v. 24:5, 4-7.

1996 (Translation). “Fogyasztás, idÿtartam, történelem,” Replika, 21/22 május 1996: 81-98.

1996 “Off-White,” A.N.Y. (Architecture New York), Winter.  pdf >

1996 (with James Holston) “Cities and Citizenship,” Public Culture 8: 187-204.  pdf >

1996 “Diversity and Disciplinarity as Cultural Artifacts,” Disciplinarity and Dissent in Cultural Studies. C. Nelson and D. Gaonkar (Eds.). New York: Routledge.

1996 “Sovereignty Without Territoriality: Notes for a Postnational Geography,” The Geography of Identity. P. Yaeger (Ed.). Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan Press, 40-58.

1995 (Translation). “Le patriotisme et son avenir,” Futur Antérieur 27(1): 35-54.

1995 (With Carol A. Breckenridge) “Public Modernity in India.” Introductory Essay, Consuming Modernity: Public Culture in a South Asian World. C.A. Breckenridge (Ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

1995 “Playing with Modernity: The Decolonization of Indian Cricket,” Consuming Modernity: Public Culture in a South Asian World. C.A. Breckenridge (Ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

1995 “The Production of Locality,” Counterwork. R. Fardon (Ed.). London: Routledge.

1994 “Contesting the Popular in Africa,” Passages: A Chronicle of the Humanities 8: 1.

1994 (Translation). “Indiase Kookkunst,” In Mijn Vaders Huis II. A. Ramdas (Ed.). Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Jan Mets.

1993 “The Geography of Canonicity,” What is Fundamental? The Committee on Social Thought. Chicago: The University of Chicago: 3-12.

1993 (Reprint) “Consumption, Duration and History,” Streams of Cultural Capital. D. Palumbo-Liu and H. U. Gumbrecht (eds.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

1993 “Consumption, Duration and History,” Stanford Literary Review 10 (1-2, Spring-Fall): 11-23.

1993 (Reprint) “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy,” The Phantom Public Sphere. Bruce Robbins (Ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 269-295.

1993 “The Heart of Whiteness,” Callaloo 16: 797-807.  pdf >

1993 “Patriotism and Its Futures,” Public Culture (3) 5: 411-429, Spring 1993.

1993 “Number in the Colonial Imagination,” Orientalism and the Post-Colonial Predicament. C.A. Breckenridge and P. van der Veer (eds.). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

1992 “Father Britto,” Polygraph 5: 248-250.

1992 (Reprint). “Putting Hierarchy in its Place,” Rereading Cultural Anthropology. G. E. Marcus (Ed.). Durham and London: Duke University Press.

1991 “Afterword,” Gender, Genre, and South Asian Expressive Traditions. A. Appadurai, F. J. Korom and M. A. Mills (Eds.). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

1991 (With F. J. Korom and M. A. Mills) “Introduction,” Gender, Genre, and South Asian Expressive Traditions. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

1991 (With Carol A. Breckenridge) “Museums are Good to Think: Heritage on View in India,” Museums and Their Communities: The Politics of Public Culture. I. Karp, S. Levine and T. Ybarra-Frausto (Eds.). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 34-55.

1991 “Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology,” Interventions: Anthropologies of the Present. R.G. Fox (Ed.). Santa Fe: School of American Research, 191-210.

1991 (With Carol A. Breckenridge) “Marriage, Migration and Money: Mira Nair’s Cinema of Displacement,” Visual Anthropology 4 (1, Spring): 95-102.

1991 “Dietary Improvisation in an Agricultural Economy,” Diet and Domestic Life in Society. Sharman et. al. (Eds.). Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 207-232.

1990 (with Carol A. Breckenridge) “Public Culture in Late 20 th- Century India,” Items 44 (4), December 1990: 77-80.

1990 “Technology and the Reproduction of Values in Western India,” Dominating Knowledge: Development, Culture and Resistance. S.A. Marglin and F.A. Marglin (Eds.). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

1990 “Topographies of the Self: Praise and Emotion in Hindu India,” Affecting Discourse: Anthropological Essays on Emotions and Social Life. C. Lutz and L. Abu-Lughod (Eds.). New York and London: Cambridge University Press: 92-112.

1990 “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy,” Theory, Culture and Society 7 (2 and 3, July): 295-310 (Short Version).  pdf >

1990 “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy,” Public Culture (2) 2: 1-24 (Long Version).

1989 “Small-Scale Techniques and Large-Scale Objectives,” Conversations Between Economists and Anthropologists. P. Bardhan (Ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 250-282.

1989 “Transformations in the Culture of Agriculture,” Contemporary Indian Tradition . Carla Borden (Ed.). The Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington and London, 173-186.

1988 (With Carol Breckenridge) “Why Public Culture?” Public Culture 1 (1, Fall): 5-9.

1988 “Imagined Worlds: The Decolonization of Cricket,” The Olympics and Cultural Exchange. S.P. Kang, J. McAloon and R. da Matta (Eds.). Seoul: Hanyang University, Institute for Ethnographic Studies, 163-190.

1988 “Comment on Francis Zimmerman, The Jungle and the Aroma of Meats,” Social Science and Medicine 27 (3): 206-207.

1988 “Putting Hierarchy in its Place,” Cultural Anthropology 3 (1, February): 37-50.  pdf >

1988 “Place and Voice in Anthropological Theory,” Cultural Anthropology 3 (1, February): 16-20.  pdf >

1988 “How to Make a National Cuisine: Cookbooks in Contemporary India,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 30 (1, January): 3-24.

1987 “Street Culture,” The India Magazine 8 (1, December): 2-23.

1987 “The Indian Cow,” Encyclopaedia of Asian History. New York: The Asia Society and Scribner and Sons, Volume 1: 347.

1987 “Hinduism,” Encyclopaedia of Asian History. New York: The Asia Society and Scribner and Sons, Volume 2: 56-59.

1986 “Is Homo Hierarchicus – A Review Essay,” American Ethnologist 13 (4): 745-761. pdf >

1986 “Center and Periphery in Anthropological Theory,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 28 (2): 356-361.  pdf >

1986 (with Wilhelm Halbfass) “History of the Study of Indian Religions,” Encyclopaedia of Religion. Mircea Eliade, Editor. Macmillan, New York.

1986 “Commodities and the Politics of Value,” Introductory Essay, The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. A. Appadurai (Ed.).Cambridge University Press, 3-63.

1985 “Gratitude as a Social Mode in South India,” Ethos 13 (3, Fall): 236-245.  pdf >

1985 (Review) “Understanding Green Revolutions: Agrarian Change and Development Planning in South Asia,” Tim P. Bayliss-Smith and Sudhir Wanmali, eds., Third World Quarterly (London). pdf >

1985 (Review) “The Cult of the Goddess Pattini, by G. Obeyesekere,” Journal of Asian Studies 44 (3, May): 647-649. pdf >

1984 “How Moral is South Asia’s Economy? — A Review Essay,” Journal of Asian Studies 43 (3, May): 481-497. pdf >

1984 (with Gregory Possehl) “Cow,” Man and Animals: Living, Working and Changing Together. Philadelphia: University Museum, University of Pennsylvania: 47-56.

1984 “Wells in Western India: Irrigation and Cooperation in an Agricultural Society,” Expedition 26 (3): 3-14.

1983 “The Puzzling Status of Brahman Temple Priests in Hindu India,” South Asian Anthropologist 4 (1, March): 43-52.

1981 “Royal Rituals and Cultural Change,” Reviews in Anthropology 8 (2, Spring): 121-138. pdf >

1981 “The Past as a Scarce Resource,” Man (N.S.) 16 (2, June): 201-219.  pdf >

1981 “Gastro-Politics in Hindu South Asia,” American Ethnologist 8 (3, August): 494-511.

1981 (Review) “Gopal Krishna, ed., Contributions to South Asian Studies 1, Delhi, Oxford University Press,” American Ethnologist 8 (1, February): 211-212. pdf >

1980 “Comment on Female Lingam: Interchangeable Symbols and Paradoxical Associations of Hindu Gods and Goddesses by G. Eichinger Ferro-Luzzi,” Current Anthropology 21 (1, February): 54.

1978 “Understanding Gandhi,” Childhood and Selfhood: Essays on Tradition, Religion and Modernity in the Psychology of Erik H. Erikson, P. Homans (Ed.).
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: Bucknell University Press: 113-43.

1977 “Kings, Sects and Temples in South India, 1350-1700 A.D.,” Economic and Social History Review 14 (1): 47-73.

1976 (with Carol A. Breckenridge) “The South Indian Temple: Authority, Honor and Redistribution,” Contributions to Indian Sociology 10 (2): 187-211.

1974 “Right and Left Hand Castes in South India,” Indian Economic and Social History Review 11 (2-3): 216-259.

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