Saiba Varma

Saiba Varma is an Assistant Professor of the Psychological/Medical Anthropology subfield. She is a medical and cultural anthropologist working on questions of violence, medicine, psychiatry, and politics as they pertain to Indian-controlled Kashmir and South Asia more generally. Saiba spent 20 months doing ethnographic research in Kashmir, the site of a chronic, unresolved conflict, and one of the most militarized places on earth. In her research, she explores how spaces of psychiatric and humanitarian care confront, but also become microcosms of, the broader politics of violence and occupation that characterize life in Kashmir. She is interested in how medicine and psychiatry, as forms of knowledge and relations, are not only ways of shoring up "facts" about illness, the body, or health, but also spaces where mistrust, doubt, and suspicion proliferate.


Ph.D. in Anthropology, Cornell University (2013)

Posdoctoral Fellow, the Thompson Writing Program, Duke University (2012-2015)

Life in Pieces: Military and Huamnitarian Care in Kashmir

My book manuscript, Life in Pieces: Military and Humanitarian Care in Kashmir, answers the following puzzle: how is Kashmir both the most loved and the most militarized region in India? Drawing on over 24 months of ethnographic fieldwork in sites of mental health and humanitarian care, the book tracks medicine and militarism as social forms that are partially connected to each other through specific practices, relations, and technologies.

2016, Disappearing the Asylum: Modernizing Psychiatry and Generating Manpower in India. Transcultural Psychiatry 53(6): 783-803

2016, Love in the Time of Occupation: Reveries, Longing, andIntoxication in Kashmir. American Ethologist 43(1): 50-62

2012, Where There Are Only Doctors: Counselors as Psychiatristsin Indian administered Kashmir. Ethos 40(4): 517-535(Winner of the Condon Prize, Society for Psychological Anthropology,American Anthropological Association)

2010, Curfewed in Kashmir: Voices from the Valley.In Economic and Political Weekly 45(35),pp.10-14 (co-authored with Aaliya Anjum)