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Lucia Michelutti



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On research leave 2012-2016

Lucia Michelutti’s main interests are in the intersection between political and legal anthropology and the anthropology of religion. She is interested in the ethnographic study of popular democracy, charismatic politicians, questions of identity (caste and race), law and order as well as cultures of leadership, authority and masculinity. She has carried out fieldwork in North India (Uttar Pradesh) since 1998 and has worked in Venezuela and on South Asia in comparative context since 2006. She is the author of 'The vernacularisation of democracy: politics, caste and religion in contemporary India' (Routledge 2008) and currently completing a monograph on political hope and the Venezuelan Bolivarian socialist revolution (provisionally entitled: ‘In the name of the people. Gods and revolutionary politics in a Venezuelan village’). Michelutti’s other major research interest is the anthropology of history and the impact of colonial legacies on political cultures in South Asia and Latin America.

Her research has been funded by the Economic Social Research Council (Post-Doctoral Fellowship 2002-2004 and Research Grant 2004-2008), the Nuffield Foundation (2009) and currently a major ERC-Starting Investigator Grant – funded by the European Union as part of the Framework Programme 7 (FP7) (2012-2016). She is currently the convenor of the Research Programme ‘Democratic Cultures’

She read Politics and International Relations at the University of Trieste and trained in Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences. Before joining UCL she held posts at Department of Anthropology at LSE and the School of Interdisciplinary Areas Studies at the University of Oxford. She is a Research Associate with the Contemporary South Asia Programme at Oxford University.

Selected Publications


(2008) The Vernacularisation of Democracy: Politics, Caste and Religion in India. Delhi, London: Routledge.

Edited works

(2013) Divine Kinship and Politics. (Edited with Alice Forbess). Special Issue of Focaal, Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, Winter 2013. Vol. 67 


(in press) Kingship without kings. In Anastasia Piliavsky (ed.) Patronage as the Politics of South Asia. Cambridge University Press

(in press) with Oliver Heath. Political cooperation and distrust: identity politics and Yadav-Muslim relations, 1999-2009. In Jeffery, R., Lerche, J. and C. Jeffrey (eds.) Development Failure and Identity Politics in Uttar Pradesh. Delhi: Sage

(2013) Sons of Krishna and Sons of Bolivar. Charismatic kinship and leadership across India and Venezuela. Focaal - Journal of Historical and Global Anthropology, Winter 2013, Vol. 67

(2013) Post-secularity and political hope in 21st Century Socialism. In Thomas Murh (ed), Counter-Globalization and Socialism in the 21st Century, The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America. London: Routledge

(2013) with Oliver Heath, The politics of entitlement: affirmative action and strategic voting in Uttar Pradesh, India. Focaal - Journal of Historical and Global Anthropology, Spring 2013, Vol. 65

(2013) Democracy, diversity and the vernacularisation framework. In Jyotirmaya Tripathy and Sudarsan Padnabhaman. The democratic predicament.Cultural diversity in Europe and India. London, New Delhi: Routldege

(2011) Ram and Krishna symbolism in Uttar Pradesh politics: religious socialism and Hindutva. In Daniela Berti and Nicolas Jaoul (eds), The Cultural Entrenchment of Hindutva: Mediation and Resistance. Delhi: Routledge.

(2010) Wrestling with (body) politics: understanding muscular political styles in North India. In Pamela Price and Arild Ruud (eds), Power and Influence in South Asia: Bosses, Lords, and Captains. Delhi, London: Routledge.

(2010) Understanding popular politics: caste, kinship and factionalism among Yadavs in North India. In Anthony Heath and Roger Jeffery (eds.), Politics and Society in Contemporary India: Change and Diversity. Proceedings of the British Academy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

(2008) ‘We are Kshatriyas but we behave like Vaishyas' diet and muscular politics among a community of Yadavs in North India. Journal of South Asian Studies 31(1): 76 – 95.

(2007) The vernacularisation of democracy: popular politics and political participation in North India. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 13: 639-656.

(2004) "We (Yadavs) are a caste of politicians": Caste and modern politics in a North Indian town. Contributions to Indian Sociology 38(3): 43-72. (Reprinted in Caste in question: Identity or hierarchy, Dipankar Gupta (ed). New Delhi: Sage, 2004).

Working Papers

(2012) Small Producer Agency in Globalised Market. Small-scale farmers under alternative socialist governments: Venezuela and the ALBA People’s Trade Agreement. IIED, Working Papers,

(2009) Socialist muscular charisma in comparative perspective. Working Paper. LSE Research Online.

(2008) ‘Venezuelan Socialism’: the everyday life of the Bolivarian revolution in a rural village. Working Paper: London: London School of Economics

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