Professor Assa Doron

Professor, Anthropology & South Asia, (ARC Future Fellow 2012-2016) School of Culture, History & Language
College of Asia & the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Studies Of Asian Society 169903
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Anthropology Of Development 160101
  • Communications Technologies 1005
  • Other Medical And Health Sciences 1199

Research interests

The anthropology of contemporary India, and South Asia; development studies;  technology, urbanization; public health & sanitation, identity politics; religion; ethnographic practice, new media, waste and recycling.


Assa Doron's main areas of interest include, urban anthropology, development studies, the environment, and media and technology. Much of his fieldwork was carried in Varanasi where he focused on the ritual economy of the river and questions of caste and identity politics in India. The study was published in the book, Life on the Ganga, (Cambridge, 2013). Doron's collaboration with Robin Jeffrey led to a book on the mobile phone revolution in India, titled, The Great Indian Phone Book (Harvard UP/C. Hurst, 2013). The book received wide media coverage and favourable reviews in outlets such as, The Economist, Bloomberg, India Today, Times Higher Education, The Wall Street Journal, LA Review of Books, Economic & Political Weekly (EPW), LSE Review of Books, The Australian, and SMH as well as in various academic journals.

Doron & Jeffrey's most recent book Waste of a Nation: Garbage and Growth in India (Harvard University Press 2018), was widely covered in outlets including The Guardian, Times of India, Down to Earth and Quartz. The book was favourably reviewed in NatureNew ScientistTimes Literary SupplementPublic Books, LSERBThe Australian, and The Wire amongst others.

Assa Doron was also the Founding Director of the South Asia Research Institute at ANU until 2017. (

Career highlights

2018 - Awarded Australian Research Council Discovery Project

2013/4 – Awarded Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASAA) Early Career Research Prize

2012 - Awarded Australian Research Council Future Fellowship

2008 - Awarded Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship 


Doron's articles and interviews include: The New York Times (Blog), The Hindu,, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Times of India, Candian Public Radio, Inside Story, SBS radio (interviewed in Hindi) ABC radio (Late Night Live), ABC 24, Lok Sabha TV (India's parliamentary TV Channel), and Tehelka TV. 


Researcher's projects

Key research areas focus on the themes of Media and Technology, Culture and Politics, and Health and Society. Research projects and grants include:

2019-2021- ARC Discovery Project [DP190100823]. Project title: ‘Superbugs’ in India: Antimicrobial resistance, inequality and development [First investigator]

2015-16 -- RSAP, New Directions Grant

2011-15   ARC Future Fellowship. Project title: Recycling Modernity: An anthropological study of India’s mobile phone repair and recycling economies.

2015 - English Adjusted: Everyday English Keywords in India.

2011 -- Australia-India Council Research Grant. Project title: Celebrating Subaltern Studies: A symposium.

2009-10 -- AusAID Australian Development Research Award. Project title: Masculinity and violence in Indonesia and India.

2009-12 -- ARC Discovery Project [DP0985784]. Project title: Mediated Mobilities: India’s low caste revolution in the media age.

2009-12 - ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship [DP0985784]. Project title: Mediated Mobilities: India’s low caste revolution in the media age.

2008 -- Research Grant (ARC-APFRN, CAPSTARNS, RSPAS). Workshop title: Health, Culture and Religion in South Asia.

Available student projects


 Completions (PhD) 

  • Mohit Chaturvedi (Anthropology and Development, ‘Changing Practices of Meat Consumption among Hindus in a North Indian Town', 2019, Supervisor)
  • Jesse Buck, History/Cultural Studies, The Sugar in the Milk and the Augmented Historian, 2018, advisor)
  • Kavesh Muhamed, Anthropology, ‘Human-Animal Relations in Rural Pakistan’, (Chair supervisor, 2018)
  • Annie McCarthy, Anthropology, ‘Children’s Stories about Children’s Stories’, ANU 2016 (Chair supervisor)
  • Sacha Cody, ‘Consumer desire and risk society in urban China’ 2016 (Supervisor)
  • Le Hoang Ngoc Yen, Anthropology, ‘The Social and Cultural Construction of Leprosy in Vietnam’, ANU 2015 (Supervisor)
  • Patrick McCarthy, Asian Studies, ‘Spiritual Capital, Power and Sanskrit: An ethnographic study of the Temple of Peace ashram’, ANU 2015, (Supervisor)
  • Xuang Dong, Anthropology, ‘Fighting for Urban Citizenship in China’, ANU 2015 (Supervisor)
  • Udeni Appuhamilage (Anthropology, Sri Lanka) ANU, 2014 (Supervisor)
  • Kate Sullivan: ‘Conceptualising India as a “Great Power” since Independence’, ANU, 2012  (Advisor)
  • Venkatachalam Thiruppugazh: ‘Natural Disasters and their Mitigation in South Asia 2012’, ANU, 2012 (Advisor)
  • Jessica Hinchy: ‘Illicit Sex, Criminal Gender: The “deviant” subjects of the British Raj’, ANU, 2013 (Advisor)

Ongoing Supervision

  • Saidalav Thodika (Anthropology, ‘Social Hierarchy amongst Muslim in Malabar', Chair Supervisor)
  • Elvin Xing (Anthropology, ‘Tribal Organisations in South India’, Chair Supervisor)
  • Justin, Lau (Anthropology, 'Waste in Cambodia', Chair) 
  • Catherine Schuetze (Religious Studies, Tibetan Veterinarian Practices)



Return to top

Updated:  26 January 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers