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Manuela Ciotti

Associate professor

Manuela Ciotti

Most recent and current research projects (selected)


Project: 'Modern and contemporary Indian art and the global: Culture, capital, and the development of post-colonial taste'


This is a large-scale project on global presences of contemporary art from India which centres on major contemporary art-related events. These events are:


- the exhibition ‘The Empire strikes back: Indian art today’ held in London in 2010

- the India Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011

- the Mumbai Pavilion at the 2012 Shanghai Art Biennale 

- the Kochi-Muziris Biennale – India 

- the exhibition 'After midnight: Indian modernism to contemporary India, 1947/1997' at the Queens Museum, New York in 2015


Read more about this research:




  • International Network Grant (2012) awarded by the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation - with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Shanghai University, and Chung-Ang University, Seul

 Project: 'India and China: Art worlds and markets in globalising Asia'



  •  Research Grant (2014-2015) awarded by the Carlsberg Foundation

Project: 'Understanding the globalization of the art world in India and beyond: An investigation of cultural production, economic growth and society in the 21st century'



  • Art History Grant (2015-17) awarded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation

Project: 'Postcolonial material words: The history of private collecting of Indian art since 1947’



  • Supplementary Pool Grant (2017, 2018, 2019) awarded by the Aarhus University Research Foundation

Project: ''The 'other' Venice: The Global South at the Art Biennale (1950s-1980s)''



Research interests:


Politics of materiality

Subaltern communities

Gender and politics

Global art world


Art and society


Anthropology of the global

Art and global South

Methodologies for global research

Politics of knowledge production


Selected publications (Full list under the publications section)

Forthcoming. Unmooring the nation: The global spread and politics of modern and contemporary art from India. Bloomington, IN. Indiana University Press (under contract)


Forthcoming. Political agency and gender in India. London, New York: Routledge (under contract)


Forthcoming 2019. Retro-modern India. Forging the low-caste self. 2ndEdition. New Delhi, London: Routledge (under contract) 


In press. ‘India and the biennale phenomenon. The newly-independent nation in Venice in 1954 and beyond’ In P. Mitter et. Al. (eds.) Twentieth-century Indian art. New York:Skira


2018 (2010). Retro-modern India. Forging the low-caste self. New Delhi, London: Routledge


2017. Unsettling the archetypes. Femininities and masculinities in Indian politics. New Delhi: Women Unlimited (edited volume)


2014.‘Art institutions as global forms in India and beyond: Cultural production, temporality and place’ In H. Kahn (ed.) Framing the global. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, pp. 51-66


2014. ‘Dalit women between social and analytical alterity. Rethinking the ‘quintessentially marginal’ In L. Fernandes (ed.) Handbook of gender in South Asia. London, New York: Routledge, pp. 305-317


2013. ‘Thinking art in India: A semi-virtual lab’, (with G. Scaria), In Raqs Media Collective and S. Sarda(eds.) SARAI Reader 09:‘Projections’, pp. 267-273


2012. 'Post-colonial renaissance: ‘Indianness’, contemporary art and the market in the age of neoliberal capital', Third World Quarterly 33, 4: 633-651


2012. 'Resurrecting seva (social service): Dalit and low-caste women party activists as producers and consumers of political culture and practice in urban north India', The Journal of Asian Studies 71, 1: 149-170


2011. 'After subversion: Intimate encounters, the agency in and of representation, and the unfinished project of gender without sexuality in India’, Cultural Dynamics, 23: 2, 107-126


2011. ‘Remaking traditional sociality, ephemeral friendships and enduring political alliances: 'State-made' Dalit youth in rural northern Indian society’, Focaal – Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, 59: 19-32


2010. ‘The bourgeois woman and the half-naked one’: Or the Indian nation's contradictions personified', Modern Asian Studies 4: 785–815


2010. ‘Futurity in words: Low-caste women politicians’ self-representation and post-Dalit scenarios in north India’ Contemporary South Asia, 18, 1: 43–56


2009. 'The conditions of politics: Low-caste women and political agency in a northern Indian city', Feminist Review, 91: 113-134


2008. 'Islam: What is in a name?' In M. Banerjee (ed.) Muslim portraits. Everyday lives in India. New Delhi: Yoda Press/Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, pp. 1-10


2007. ‘Ethnohistories behind local and global bazaars: Chronicle of a Chamar weaving community and its disappearance in the Banaras region’, Contributions to Indian Sociology (n.s.) 41, 3: 319–52


2006. ‘At the margins of feminist politics? Everyday lives of women activists in northern India’, Contemporary South Asia, Vol. 15 (4) 437-452


2006. “In the past we were a bit ‘Chamar’”: Education as a self- and community engineering process in northern India', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 12, 899-916



Associate Professor of Global Studies

I obtained my PhD in anthropology from the London School of Economics (LSE). My work analyses the history and present of the flows of ideas, people and goods which inform society and culture in India and beyond. In particular, I have researched and written on the topics of modernity, agency, politics, gender, and art and society. As a result of my past and current projects, my profile has been enriched by a plurality of fieldwork experiences within India and other countries. It is the ability to move across very diverse field sites within India and globally, that of reflecting upon the methodological practices these fields engender vis-à-vis the engagement with the different bodies of theory mobilized by them which best define my identity as a scholar. Where I hold a global approach to the major transformations currently affecting India, my intellectual background is itself global as it draws on the experience of a number of academic contexts, and, since the onset of my career, on my active role in knowledge exchange and dissemination.



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