Angana Chatterji

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Angana P. Chatterji is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). Her work integrates scholarship, research, teaching, and advocacy in linking the roles of citizen and intellectual. An advocate for social justice, Professor Chatterji has been working with postcolonial social movements, local communities, institutions and citizens groups, and state institutions in India and internationally, since 1984, toward enabling participatory democracy.


Angana Chatterji grew up in Calcutta, India, deeply connected to legacies of justice and the work of her father, Bhola Chatterji, a socialist and freedom fighter for India's independence, whose work as a public intellectual was immersed in India and Nepal. Angana Chatterji's work focuses on India and South Asia, and her perspectives have been defined by a lifetime of learning, along with work in the United States. Dr. Chatterji's work focuses on issues of biopolitical governance and identity politics; nationalisms, self-determination, and gendered violence; development, globalization, and cultural survival. She has worked with land rights and public policy connected to public lands reform, addressing issues of indigenous land rights and community governance and grassroots resistance as mediated by class, ethnicity and religion, and migration, displacement and statelessness. She is currently working on mapping the intersections of majoritarian nationalism and social and gendered violence in Orissa, India, and on issues of militarization, gender and identity, and self-determination in Indian-administered Kashmir. She also works with issues of hyper-nationalism, diaspora, and identity politics in the United States.


Chatterji worked with policy and advocacy research from 1989-97, including with the Indian Social Institute and Planning Commission of India, before joining the faculty at CIIS in 1997. At CIIS, in/since 1999, with Richard Shapiro, Chatterji enabled the re-envisioning of the Anthropology Graduate Program at CIIS to prioritize issues of social and ecological justice in the context of a multicultural, postcolonial world. Earlier, Chatterji also served as the Director of Research, Asia Forest Network, initially housed at the University of California, Berkeley, and was involved in coordinating Network groups with Mark Poffenberger, in member countries in South and Southeast Asia. Following September 11, 2001, she convened the Dialogues for Peace at CIIS. She also works with social justice groups such as the Coalition Against Communalism, Coalition Against Genocide, and the Campaign To Stop Funding Hate. She serves on the board of directors of the Vasundhara, and the advisory board of the Network of Indian Environmental Professionals, Green Institute, and World Prout Assembly, and editorial boards of academic journals. She has also served on the board of directors of the International Rivers Network, Earth Island Institute, and Community Forestry International, and the advisory board of Sustainable Alternatives to the Global Economy. She has served on human rights commissions and tribunals, testified at briefings, hearings, and commissions, offered expert testimony on cases, and conducted workshops and lectured at various universities and organizations internationally. Chatterji holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Political Science, and a Ph.D. in the Humanities with a focus in Development Studies and Social and Cultural Anthropology, and is multilingual.


Chatterji's publications include various research monographs, reports, and books. Her present writings include the newly released, Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India's Present (Three Essays Collective, March 2009). As well, Professor Chatterji has two forthcoming titles in press, Land and Justice: The Struggle for Cultural Survival, and a co-edited volume, Contesting Nation: Gendered Violence in South Asia; Notes on the Postcolonial Present. Earlier, in 1996, based on extensive and participatory research and two years of living in Medinipur, West Bengal, Professor Chatterji published Community Forest Management in Arabari: Understanding Socioeconomic and Subsistence Issues (1996). More recently, she was guest editor for a special issue of Cultural Dynamics, a Sage Journal, entitled, ‘Gendered Violence in South Asia: Nation and Community in The Postcolonial Present' (2004, Volume 16, 2/3). In 2005, she co-edited Shabnam Hashmi with a collected on social issues confronting India, for the public-at-large, entitled, Dark Leaves of the Present. In 1989, she had spent a year working with immigrant women in the slums and resettlement colonies of Delhi, which resulted in the book, authored by Walter Fernandes, assisted by Sandhya Singh and Angana Chatterji (1990) Women's Status in the Delhi Bastis: Urbanization, Economic Forces, and Voluntary Organizations. A report of a study of ten slums, New Delhi: Indian Social Institute.


Since April 2008, Professor Chatterji has been the co-founder and co-convener of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir, together with Advocate Parvez Imroz, Gautam Navlakha, Zahir-Ud-Din, Advocate Mihir Desai, and Khurram Parvez. Instituted by the Public Commission on Human Rights, a constituent of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, the Tribunal is inquiring into the inquire into the architecture of military presence, militarization, and governance in Kashmir, and their subsequent and continued impact on civil society, political economy, infrastructure, development, local government, media, bureaucracy, and the judiciary. In conjunction, Professor Chatterji was invited to present by the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights in July 2008 in Brussels, along with two colleagues, at the first hearing convened on human rights in Kashmir and the Tribunal's findings on mass graves. Linked to this, the European Parliament passed a resolution on the issue as well, also in July 2008. Professor Chatterji also submitted a dossier on 51 killings that took place in August-September 2008 to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, calling for an investigation into security forces killing and injuring civilians in India-Administered Kashmir.


She is also working on the Independent Commission on Chronic Hunger in Orissa, appointed by the Supreme Court of India's Commission on Hunger since July 2007 as a co-convener with Harsh Mander, inquiring into structural and institutional, and social, cultural, and economic issues in chronic hunger in Orissa, in eastern India. Earlier, between January 2005-October 2006, she instituted and co-convened The People's Tribunal on Communalism, hosted by the Indian People's Tribunal on Environmental and Human Rights, inquiring into the processes of religious and gendered violence in Orissa, in eastern India.


Despite the wide and global solidarity and acclaim she has received, Chatterji continues to be the recipient of sustained threats, harassment, and intimidation. For her work with Hindu nationalism in India and the diaspora, Angana Chatterji has lived with threats from Hindu supremacists and militants, including death and rape threats, cyber and physical. In Kashmir, she has been harassed and intimidated by the security forces, and legally charged with inciting and acting against the state for her work on mass graves.


In her recent work with People's Tribunals and Commissions, she has authored the following: Angana P. Chatterji & Parvez Imroz, et al. (July 2009) Militarization with Impunity: Rape and Murder in Shopian, India-administered Kashmir (Interim Report of the International People's Tribunal), Srinagar: International People's Tribunal; Angana P. Chatterji & Mihir Desai (Eds.) (2006) Communalism in Orissa (Report of the Indian People's Tribunal), Mumbai: Indian People's Tribunal; and Angana P. Chatterji & Harsh Mander (2004) Without Land or Livelihood; The Indira Sagar Dam: State Accountability and Rehabilitation Issues (Report of the Independent People's Commission), New Delhi: Center for Equity Studies.


Professor Chatterji's teaching and scholarship draws on cross-disciplinary frameworks, spanning issues of colonization, postcoloniality, human rights, law, and international relations. Her intellectual interests include issues of power and identity; feminist, postcolonial, poststructural, and Marxist critique; genealogy, archaeology, and historiography. Focused on research that seeks to take an advocacy position through complex and ethical engagement with the historical present, she has been involved in developing participatory, feminist, and advocacy research methodologies, and policy analysis mechanisms using critical, interdisciplinary frameworks. She draws on various disciplines in her work including anthropology, politics, law, history, and philosophy, and Cultural and Subaltern Studies, Postcolonial and Development Studies, and South Asia Studies.


Angana Chatterji lives and works both in India and the Bay Area. Though she lives in the US, she maintains her Indian citizenship. She has worked in association with and received support, including scholarships and research awards, for her work from various agencies and institutions, including the Planning Commission of India, Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development, Ford Foundation, Wallace Global Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, SwedForest, Marra Foundation, and Center for Southeast Asia Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.


LINKS (selected):


Book: 'Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India's Present':


Search inside the book:


International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir (April 2008):


MTv-Angana Chatterji Clips:


MTv-MassGraves Clips:




Photo credit: Majed Abolfazli (c)


Angana Chatterji's

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