UCL Anthropology


Lucia Michelutti



E-mail: l.michelutti@ucl.ac.uk

Office Room: 138

Telephone number:
020 76791038

Professor of Anthropology
Head of Social Anthropology Section

Lucia Michelutti's main interests are in the intersection between political and legal anthropology and the anthropology of religion. She is currently the convenor of the Research Programme 'Democratic Cultures' and of the new MSc Politics, Violence and Crime

Michelutti is interested in the ethnographic study of popular democracy, violence, crime and politics as well as cultures of leadership, authority and masculinity. She has carried out extensive fieldwork in North India (Uttar Pradesh) and has worked in Venezuela and on South Asia in comparative contexts. She is the author of 'The vernacularisation of democracy: politics, caste and religion in contemporary India' (Routledge 2008). More recently she has been writing on bossism and mafia systems of governance ('Mafia Raj')  in South Asia  (see www.ucl.ac.uk/democratic-cultures/publications). She is also completing a monograph on charisma and political experimentations in Venezuela (provisionally entitled: 'In the name of the people. Gods and politics in a Venezuelan village').

Her research has been funded by the Economic Social Research Council (Post-Doctoral Fellowship 2002-2004; Research Grant 2004-2008; Research Grant 2012-16), the Nuffield Foundation (2009) and an ERC-Starting Investigator Grant - funded by the European Union as part of the Framework Programme 7 (FP7) (2012-2016). In July 2017, she has been awarded an ERC Proof of Concept Grant (2018- 2020) to enhance the impact of her research on political criminal economies in South Asia and develop an Ethnographically Driven Risk Analysis Framework for social business and impact investing in risky political economies.

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.

Recent Publications 


(2018) Mafia Raj: The Rule of Bosses in South Asia. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Co-authored with Ashraf Hoque, Nicolas Martin, David Picherit, Paul Rollier, Arild Ruud and Clarinda Still.

Edited works

(forthcoming) Criminal Political Economies in South Asia. London: UCL Press. Co-edit with Barbara Harriss-White

Articles/ Chapters

(2018). Parivar Raj (Rule of Family): The role of Money and Force in the Making of Dynastic Authority. Studies in Indian Politics, 6(2): 196-208 

(2018). Caste and the Anthropology of Democracy. In S. Srivastava, Y. Arif and J. Abraham (eds). Critical Themes in Indian Sociology. Delhi: Sage.

(forthcoming) The inter-state criminal life of sand and oil in North India. In Harriss-White and Michelutti (eds.) Criminal Political Economies in South Asia. London: UCL Press

(2018) with Ashraf Hoque. Brushing with organized crime and democracy: the art of making do in South AsiaJournal of Asian Studies,  1-21.

(2018). Mafia Raj. In The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality. Volume 1: Toward Understanding of Social and Cultural Complexities. London: UCL Press.

(2017) with Nicolas Martin. Protection Rackets and Party Machines. Comparative Ethnographies of 'Mafia Raj' in North India. Asian Journal of Social Science 45: 692-722.

(2017) The cult of the boss. Seminar. 693 - May 2017: 58-64.

(2017) 'We are all Chavez'. Charisma as an embodied experience. Latin American Perspectives: a journal on capitalism and socialism. Vol. 44, Issue 1.