Dr. Benu Verma

Assistant Professor

Alliance School of Liberal Arts

Dr. Benu Verma holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Anthropology from IIT Delhi. She has an M.Phil. in Sociology from Delhi School of Economics and a Masters in Social Work from TISS, Mumbai. Her doctoral thesis engages with the current transformations in class and caste behaviours amidst a neoliberal environment via an ethnography of middle-class devotees of a popular Indian spiritual guru. 

Dr. Verma combines her extensive practical experience in the development sector with a critical eye for anthropological complexity to straddle the demands of academic research. She is invested in the revival of anthropology as a discipline with special emphasis on the popularization of ethnography as a research method in all humanities disciplines. She is committed to bring her anthropological sensibility to articulate nuanced and critical inputs for public policy in the areas of gender equality, precarious livelihoods and social justice and rights. 

Her future research interests lie at the intersection of religion, class and technology in a post pandemic, neoliberal world, where the conventional ideas of 'community' and 'togetherness' have been deeply disrupted by the pandemic.

Work Experience in Social Development Sector

  • Research Coordinator Ethnographic study of Bidi (hand rolled cigarettes) Industry in Madhya Pradesh and Odisha (India). Research Initiative by WHO (World Health Organisation) and VHAI (Voluntary Health Association of India), Delhi, 2021
  • Member, Report Writing Team, APS Consulting for Gender Analysis of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ, India) project on Soil Protection and Rehabilitation for Food Security in India. Implemented in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, published in 2017
  • Program Coordinator at Sangat South Asia (Delhi Office) – A South Asian network of Gender Activists and Trainers, 2008
  • Research Officer at Women Power Connect, Delhi, 2007. Collaborative Research and Writing for UNDP and GOI Projects on Documentation of Best Practices in Gender Mainstreaming and Documentation of Best Practices in Gender Mainstreaming in the Context of Disaster Management
  • Core Team Member, Social Development Team at Pragya, Gurgaon, 2006-07. Strategising and Implementation of education and livelihood programmes, Research and Monitoring and Evaluation, High Altitude Himalayan Region

Publications and Contributions

  • Bovine Sifters: Cows, Indigeneity and Environmentalism Among a Middle-Class Guru Following – Book chapter in Studies in Religion and Everyday Life, Oxford University Press (Forthcoming)
  • Piro and the Gulabdasis: Gender, Sect and Society in Punjab, Book Review - Contributions to Indian Sociology (Sage, SCOPUS indexed), 52, 1 (2018): 105- 107. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0069966717734959
  • The Dashing Ladies of Shiv Sena: Political Matronage in Urbanizing India, Book Review - Contemporary South Asia (Taylor and Francis, SCOPUS indexed), (2017) ISSN: 0958- 4935 (Print) 1469-364X (Online) https://doi.org/10.1080/09584935.2017.1362207
  • Plenitude of the Singular: Draupadi in Literature and Life, Society and Culture in South Asia (Sage, SCOPUS indexed), (2015) Volume 1, Part 1, 2015, 56-78, ISSN No. 2393 – 8617, Sage Publications
  • Many Lives, Many Lessons: Draupadi’s Function in the Narrative Construction of Sanskrit Mahabhartha, Indraprastha: International Journal of Culture and Communication Studies, IV, 2015, 19-36, ISSN 2278 – 7208
  • Many Stories, Many Lessons: The Plurality of Draupadi, Sita and Ahalya, Mejo: The MELOW Journal of World Literature (Towards Praxis: Literature, Society and Politics 1) Volume 1, Issue 1, July 2016, 81-90, DOI:10.21659/mejo15.v8n3
  • Gendered violence in India: Scope and limitations of Law and Mass Media, Vivekananda Journal of Research, Volume 3, Part 1, 2014, 101-110, ISSN No. 2319-8702
  • Contributed a chapter (in collaboration with ActionAid, Delhi) on Declining Child Sex Ratio for the Shadow report of the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, 2008.

Conference Panel Organisation

  • Young Asian Women’s Leadership Forum (Panel Organisation and Coordination) as Core group member, Second International Conference of the Kartini Network, Asia, Bali, Indonesia, 2nd to 5th November 2008

International Courses

  • Winter School on ‘Religions of India: Transformations of Values, Practices and Identities’, 19-23 March 2018, IIT Delhi and University of Groningen, Netherlands
  • UCSIA Summer School on ‘Religion, Culture and Society’, University of Antwerp, Belgium, 27th August to 3rd September, 2017

Conference Papers

  • COVID, Class and Communal Anxieties: Muslim Domestic Workers in a Pandemic Struck Hindu Middle-Class Apartment Building in Delhi at Truth and Responsibility, Annual Meeting of American Anthropological Association, November 17 to 21, 2021, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Seva and Sanskar: Everyday Religious Ethics and Political Behaviour Among Middle-Class Guru Devotees in Delhi at 49th Annual Conference on South Asia, October 21st – 24th, 2021, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin
  • Bovine Sifters: Cows, Class and Indigeneity Among the Devotees of Mata Amritanandamayi Devi at ‘South Asia: Interpreting its Past, Imagining its Future’, 14th Annual Conference of the South Asian Studies Association, California, 5-7 February, 2021
  • Patriarchy and Its Persistence: What Makes It Go On, at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies Online Value-Added Course for undergraduate students on ‘Gender, Law and Society’, 20th of June, 2020
  • The Curious Case of the Contemporary Guru: Citizens and Devotees in Mata Amritanandamayi Devi Mission at UCSIA Summer School on Religion, Culture and Society, Antwerp, Belgium 27th August to 3rd September, 2017
  • Many Lives, Many stories: on the plurality of times, contexts and literary lives of Mythic heroines at ‘Towards Praxis: Literature, Society and Politics’, Annual MELUS – MELOW Conference, 19- 21 February, 2016, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi
  • Violence against women in India: challenging the demarcation of the workplace and the domestic space at National Conference on ‘Family structure, social change and law’, 19-20 December, 2013, Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Delhi
  • Deployment of the ‘Feminine’ in the making of nationalist struggles: An analysis of ‘martyrs’ and ‘heroes’ in Khalistan movement and the LTTE at ‘Modernity, Identity and Resistance in South Asia: Negotiating subjectivity amidst changing solidarities, at Mumbai University (March 2010), Mumbai and IAWS Indian Association of Women’s Studies Conference (January 2011), Wardha, Maharashtra. South Asian Feminism and ICTs at IAWS Conference, February 2008, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh