Professor Jonathan Parry

Professor Jonathan Parry

Professor Emeritus

Department of Anthropology

About me

Professor Jonathan Parry has conducted field research in various parts of India on various different topics. His first study was in a rural area in the sub-Himalayan region where he focused on the classic anthropological themes of caste, kinship, and marriage. He subsequently worked in the city of Banaras where he studied the various communities of "sacred specialists" in one way or another concerned with the "business" of death-specialists who preside over rituals concerned with the disposal of the corpse, the fate of the soul, and the purification of the mourners. More recently, Professor Parry has been doing fieldwork on industrial workers in the central Indian steel town of Bhilai (in the Chhattisgarh region of Madhya Pradesh) which was built on a "green field" site with Soviet collaboration and technology in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The public sector Bhilai Steel Plant is now one of the largest steel plants in Asia, and has served as a magnet for a great deal of private sector industrial development. Part of the fieldwork has focused on on shopfloor organisation, but much of it has been conducted in the ex-villages-cum-labour colonies in which the workers have their homes. Professor Parry has also written more widely on the theoretical topics of death, the body, and exchange.


Expertise Details

South Asia; sociology of Hinduism; caste and other forms of inequality; industrialisation; labour and the anthropology of work

Selected publications

2005. Changing childhoods in industrial Chhattisgarh. In Educational regimes in contemporary India, R. Chopra and P. Jeffrey (eds). London and New Delhi: Sage. 

2004. The marital history of a "thumb impression man." In Telling lives: South Asian life histories, D. Arnold and S. Blackburn (eds). New Delhi/Bloomington: Permanent Black/Indiana University Press. 

2003. Nehru's dream and the village waiting room: long distance labour migrants to a central Indian steel town. Contributions to Indian Sociology 37(1/2).

2001. Ankalu's errant wife: sex, marriage and industry in contemporary Chhattisgarh. Modern Asian Studies 35(4): 783-820.

1994. Death in Banares. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

1989. Money and the morality of exchange  (co-edited with Maurice Bloch). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

1979. Caste and kinship in Kangra. London: Routledge.