Nikhil Pandhi

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Princeton U.

Grant number

Gr. 10235

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Pandhi , Nikhil (Princeton U.) "Dying of Caste: How Public Health, Caste and Chronicity Collide in Contemporary India"

Situated in Delhi against the backdrop of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic and deeper histories of injury, debility and risk animating lower-caste/Dalit lifeworlds, my ethnographic research explores how caste is being mobilised in global public health in contemporary India and how it remains integral to the Indian government’s necropolitics. I will ethnographically focus on how India’s oldest hospital for community medicine mediates global health metrics and technologies and how these interventions implicate Dalit bodies in two low-income, urban neighborhoods. Moving beyond the clinic with Dalit patients, families, public health physicians, paramedical workers and health activists in mutable community health landscapes, my project parses multiple scales between the individual and institutional improvisations of health. Ethnographically attuned to Dalit life-histories and subjectivities my research will answer these key questions: How, precisely, does one die of caste? How does public health in post-colonies like India become a site for contestations of caste politics whilst creating chasms of care for Dalits? My research will be the first ethnographic work to advance decolonial medical anthropology evidencing caste as a key determinant of health outcomes in India. I will ethnographically develop the analytic of ‘casted chronicities’ to examine global public health’s complicity in India’s caste system on-the-ground.