Dr Maan Barua (2013, Social Sciences) has been awarded a three-year British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the political role and significance of human-monkey relations in modern India.
Dr Barua grew up in a part of rural India where, he says, monkeys were a feature of everyday life. He arrived at Somerville in 2013 with an academic background in conservation, biodiversity and geography.
This is a great opportunity for me,” said Dr Barua. “I will be conducting extensive fieldwork, studying both monkeys and people in India. I believe it will culminate in an important book on animals and Indian modernity – something that has not been well studied before.”
Dr Barua is an Indira Gandhi Junior Research Fellow at Somerville. (2013-14 is the inaugural year of the Indira Gandhi scholarship programme at Somerville.) The College is now raising funds to build the Oxford India Centre, which will provide a study centre for exceptional scholars from India to conduct research in issues relating to sustainable development, with a view to returning to India after the programme in order to contribute to good sustainability policy-making.
Dr Barua will be especially focused on the place of monkeys in popular political movements, the rise of primatology as a scientific discipline and the ways in which the Indian state seeks to ‘govern’ monkeys in urban centres. His home department will be the School of Geography and the Environment.
Part of Dr Barua’s research will be conducted with Dr Anindya Sinha, a renowned primatologist who has been studying Indian macaques for more than twenty years. Dr Sinha is based at the National Institute for Advanced Studies in Bangalore, where Dr Barua will hold Adjunct Faculty from later this year.