Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Sahana Ghosh

Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs, 2019-2020
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies at Harvard University


Sahana Ghosh is a social anthropologist whose research uses ethnographic and historical methods to study the intersections of gender, mobility, borders, and policing in contemporary South Asia. She is interested in ethical and political questions of ethnographic practice from an intersectional feminist perspective.

Her academic writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the American Anthropologist, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Gender, Place & Culture, and the Economic and Political Weekly. She also writes to critically engage a broader public on topics of her expertise.

She received her PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Yale University in 2018.


Broadly, my research concerns borders, the mobility of people and goods, trans/national security assemblages, and gender and geo/politics. I use ethnography and feminist approaches to locate, analyse, and narrate how uneven geographies of movement come about in and through the lives of those whose mobilities are constructed as threats at different scales.

I am writing my first book on the lived experiences of militarization of the “friendly” border between India and Bangladesh. It traces the biography of the border through the transnational networks sustaining agrarian commerce, everyday mobility of people and goods, and kinship in impoverished borderland lives and the shifting practices of border security on the ground. Through this account of and from the borderlands, my work rethinks statist and popular understandings of dangerous mobilities and national security at borders with gender as a central analytic. The book challenges methodological nationalism to examine how “India” and “Bangladesh” become meaningful as national identities and economies at their shared border.

I am conducting research on two new projects: on the gendered labors of soldiering in India and the transnational governance of labor migration in Bangladesh.



2020      “Chor, police, and cattle: The political economies of bovine value in the India-Bangladesh borderlands”, for South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, forthcoming.

2019      ‘”Everything must match”: Detection, deception and migrant illegality in the India-Bangladesh borderlands’, American Anthropologist, forthcoming.

2019      “Security socialities: Gender, surveillance and civil-military relations in India’s eastern borderlands”. Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, forthcoming in 39 (3), December.

2019      “Introduction” to Special Section on Living with Surveillance. Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, forthcoming in issue 39 (3).

2017      “Relative Intimacies: Belonging and difference in transnational families across the Bengal borderland”. Economic and Political Weekly, vol LII, no 15.

2017      Review of Joya Chatterji, Claire Alexander, Annu Jalais, The Bengal Diaspora: Rethinking Muslim Migration in Contributions to Indian Sociology, 51:2.

2017      ‘Chronicles of a disturbed city: Liberalization in India’s northeast’, Review of Duncan McDuie-Ra’s Borderland City in New India in Contemporary South Asia, 24:4.


Borders and Bodies (Spring 2020)

I have previously taught classes on development, gender and sexuality, contemporary South Asia, and anthropology and postcolonialism.


Talks & Media

2018    “On militarization, violence, and justice in South Asia’s borderlands” – Conversation between Sahana Ghosh and Hafsa Kanjwal for the Polis Project’s Public Lecture Series on Bodies and Borders at the Graduate Center, CUNY, April 20th.

2017    ‘Bureaucratizing “choice”: Longing, belonging, and not knowing in the India-Bangladesh exchange of enclaves, Special Issue ‘India at 70: The Many Partitions’, Café Dissensus, August 15, 2017. https://cafedissensus.com/2017/08/15/bureaucratizing-choice-longing-belonging-and-not-knowing-in-the-india-bangladesh-exchange-of-enclaves/

2017    ‘Under the sign of security: Why the bogey of “the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant” is so powerful across elite homes in urban India’, Kafila. (with Rimple Mehta).


2016   Review of Bengali film, Sankhachil, and popular representations of the legacy of Partition and contemporary politics of the India-Bangladesh border


2013    Op-ed on violence and justice along the India-Bangladesh border, The Hindu. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/actions-that-border-on-the-barbaric/article5171113.ece