Sarandha Jain is a socio-cultural and political anthropologist, who completed her Ph.D. at Columbia University in 2022, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the India-China Institute, The New School in 2023. Studying the multi-nodal network of petroleum manufacturing, circulation, and use in India, her research examines petroleum as an infrastructure for the Indian state and society. To understand the politics of petroleum in the everyday, she studies the modes of government, forms of sociality, and constellations of power petroleum produces and is produced by, both in its manufacturing and its use. Focusing on the oil-mediated relationship between the Indian state and citizens, Sarandha investigates how oil becomes government but also escapes government. She explores how the Indian state distributes itself into citizens’ lives via petroleum products, and then what makes petroleum products leak out of the logics of government and capital, be apprehended in unintended ways, and foster alternate networks of power. Her previous work was on rivers, riverine communities, and the Indian state. At large, she is interested in unravelling structures of power, how they are contested in diverse settings, and how this negotiation plays out over the bodies of fluvial substances (rivers, petroleum) that get mired in struggles and negotiations, owing to the affordances they harbor.
Postdoctoral Fellow Supervisor: Professor Irme Szeman, Human Geography and Professor Joshua Barker, Anthropology