Dr Sita Venkateswar

Dr Sita Venkateswar staff profile picture

Senior Lecturer

School of People, Environment and Planning

Telephone: +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 83663


Professional Biography

SITA VENKATESWAR is Senior Lecturer in the Social Anthropology programme and Research Director in the Museum Studies programme at Massey University, Aotearoa/New Zealand. She is also Associate Director of the Massey chapter of the recently established New Zealand India ResearchIstitute (NZIRI). She received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Rutgers University in 1997. Her ethnography Development and Ethnocide: Colonial Practices in the Andaman Islands (2004) is based on her Ph.D. fieldwork in the Andaman Islands from 1989 to 1992 funded by the National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant. Her recent co-edited book, The Politics of Indigeneity: Dialogues and Reflections on Indigenous Activism (2011) is published by Zed Books.

Sita Venkateswar‘s research documents the ways academic practices can be
responsive to social inequities. Her work incorporates critical feminist scholar-activist
research methodologies, designated as Public Anthropology, informed by feminist
and postcolonial theories. She uses a comparative and reflexive anthropological lens
to address issues of internal colonialism, gender, poverty, social oppression and
structural violence within the postcolonial and neoliberal contexts of South Asia.



Research Expertise

Research Interests

Sita's research interests in general include cultural analysis and the relationship between gender and power. Since her research in the Andaman Island, she has conducted visual exploration of child labour in Nepal, and addressed issues related to poverty, and grassroots democracy in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Sita has also conducted research addressing the situation of refugees and forced migrants in Europe.

She is currently embarked on new research exploring a multi-species approach to food resilience and climate justice that focuses on millet cultivation in India and community supported agricultural initiatives in New Zealand. Other new, collaborative, multidisciplinary opportunities relate to museum collections and the changing roles of museums in contemporary New Zealand.


21st Century Citizenship, Future Food Systems

Area of Expertise

Field of Research Codes
Anthropology (160100): Anthropology of Development (160101): Social and Cultural Anthropology (160104): Studies In Human Society (160000)

Research Projects

Completed Projects

Project Title: Slow Violence, Social Suffering and Climate Justice: multidisciplinary interventions

The complex, multifaceted dimensions of discourses pertaining to climate change and the multiple and competing frameworks for addressing it, whether as research or as measures to mitigate its impact, has typically led to a fragmented approach to the issue and its related problems. This project aims to overcome this shortcoming by synthesising 3 key concepts: 'slow violence,' which engages with the gradual, imperceptible, but devastating long-term impact of human interventions on the ecosystem-environment-biome, with its implications to both non-human and human habitation and livelihoods; 'social suffering,' which addresses the oppressive social structures and processes that impact on humans and exacerbates the consequences of the 'slow violence' referred to earlier; 'climate justice,' deliberately shifts the frame of reference from climate change to focus on questions of justice in relation to climate change with its political implications and follows with an injunction towards multidisciplinary modes of engaging with these key conceptual frameworks.
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Date Range: 2012 - 2012

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Project Title: Indigenous Futures in the 21st Century: Dialogues and Reflections

In relation to the Aotearoa/New Zealand research component of the edited book The Politics of Indigeneity: Dialogues and Reflections on Indigenous Activism, MURF funds was awarded jointly with co-researcher Hine Waitere, based at the time in the College of Education. The funds enabled us to convene huis at Palmerston North, Whangarei and virtually, which brought together Maori from various constituencies across the country to engage with the project. The research also provided an opportunity to a Maori postgraduate student, Elizabeth Allen to be involved in the research. The chapter "Beyond indigenous civilities: indigenous matters" co-authored by Hine Waitere and Elizabeth Allen was published in Dec 2011 by Zed Books.
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Date Range: 2008 - 2009

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Supervision and Teaching


Co-tutelary PhD supervision of Sandra Cristina Simoes Marquez at the Univeristy of Lisbon (2004-2009)

2009   Cameras and Tourism in Kolkata: Representations through photovoice ISCTE-IUL 2009, Doctoral Thesis (see link below for more details):


Papers Coordinated

  • 146.311 Medical Systems of China, India and the West
  • 146.316 Visual Anthropology: Film and Video Approaches
  • 146.316 Visual Anthropology: Southasia and Global Issues
  • 146.701 Contemporary Approaches in Anthropological Theory
  • 230.791 Special Topic Humanities & Social Sciences

Current Postgraduate Supervision

CoSupervisor of:

  • Mohd Najmi Daud - PhD
    The subjective perceptions of adolescents with conduct disorders; Risk and Resilients

Completed Postgraduate Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2011 - Lorena Gibson- PhD
    Hope, agency and the 'side effects' of development in India and Papua New Guinea
  • 2009 - Trisia Farrelly- PhD
    Business Va'avanua: Cultural Hybridisation and Indigenous Entrepreneurship in the Bouma National Heritage Park, Fiji
  • 2008 - Jennifer Infanti- PhD
    Telling lives: Children's stories of hope, loss, love, and violence in Aotearoa / New Zealand.
  • 2006 - Mrs Penny Robinson- PhD
    Belonging: Pakeha Women's Practices in Aotearoa New Zealand .

CoSupervisor of:

  • 2012 - Swati Mishra- PhD
    Recasting Respectability: Habitus, call centres and the modern Indian women
  • 2004 - Ms Yumiko Ann Olliver- PhD
    A sense of Belonging: Local Sansei women's experiences in Hawaii.
  • 2001 - Ms Sam Murray- PhD
    Terra Aquarius - A Marxist Ethnography of the Alternative Lifestyle in Nimbin.

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