Vibha Arora

Vibha Arora
Associate Professor
CV Summary: 

Vibha Arora is currently serving as an Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Delhi where she has been working since 2006. She has also taught at the University of Delhi (2005-06) after completing her doctoral research as a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Oxford (2000-2004) and also worked in the international development sector. She has received prestigious scholarships and fellowships such at the national and international level such as the Commonwealth Scholarship, MSH (Paris), Fellowship at IIAS Shimla, Al-Sagar Outstanding Young Faculty Fellowship (IIT Delhi), and the M.N. Srinivas Memorial Prize of the Indian Sociological Society.
Vibha’s teaching and research interests lie at the intersection of Environmental Sociology, Identity and Indigenous groups, Ethnicity and Nationalism, Dams, Hydropower and Development Politics, Sociology of Religion, Migration, Research Methods and Visual Anthropology.
Ethnographically, Vibha has expertise in Sociology of India and in Himalayan studies (including Tibetan Diaspora settled here) and widely published on the same.
Based on her doctoral and post-doctoral research in Sikkim, Vibha is currently finalizing a monograph entitled Sacred Sikkim for publication. She has co-edited three journal issues on ‘Ecocriticism’ (Reconstruction, 2007, 7.1), Development of Democratic Routes in the Himalayan ‘Borderlands’ (Sociological Bulletin, 2009, 58.1) and ‘Fieldwork and Interdisciplinary Research’ (Reconstruction, 2009, 9.1). She is co-editor of Routeing Democracy in the Himalayas (Routledge, 2013) and Democratization in the Himalayas (Routledge, 2017). She has to her credit more than 35 articles published in eminent journals, and in various edited volumes.

Contact Information

MS642A, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences,
Indian Institute of Technology, Hauz Khas, Delhi, India


Phone: Office - 26591381; Res - 26591802

I prefer that you email me.

Research Areas

Thematic Focus and I welcome interaction with prospective PhD students on these areas
• Development, Political Sociology, Democracy and Governance
• New Media, and Digital Culture
• Sociology of Marginalized Groups
• Sociology of Religion [Indigenous religion, Hinduism and Buddhism]
• Environmental Sociology [Social Forestry; Sociology of Sacred Groves and Sacred Landscapes of the
Himalayas; Hydropower Projects and Environmental Movements; Cultural Ecology; Indigenous
• Visual Methods of Social Research, Photography and Visual Anthropology

Ethnographic Focus– South Asia including the Himalayan region and its Diaspora
Research Methods – Ethnographic Fieldwork, Social Survey, PRA, SPSS, Archival research, Visual
Methods and Internet Ethnography.
Languages - Hindi, English, Punjabi, some knowledge of Nepali and Bengali, and elementary Tibetan

Doctoral Supervision – defended successfully
1. Ethnopolitics in Manipur - N. Kipgen (defended in 2013; currently employed at IITG)
2. Sustainable Development Planning of Shimla - Renuka Thapliyal (defended in 2016; currently
employed by Himachal University)

Academic Background

2000-04: D.Phil in Social Anthropology from University of Oxford under the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme
Title of Thesis: Just a Pile of Stones! The Politicization of Indigenous Knowledge, Identity and Sacred Landscapes among the Lepcha and Bhutia tribes of Contemporary Sikkim, India.
Supervisors - Prof Marcus Banks and Prof David Parkin (Prof and Head of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford); defended with examiners - Prof Caroline Humphrey (Prof and Head, Dept of Anthropology at Cambridge) and Prof Robert Parkin (Oxford).

1998: M.Phil in Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India.
Title of Dissertation: Class and Gender in the Farmers’ Movement of India: A Case study of the Shetkari Sanghatana, Maharashtra (supervised by Prof Anand Chakravarti, Head of Dept of Sociology, DSE)
Examiner - Prof Dipanker Gupta, CSSS, JNU

1996: First Class in MA in Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India

1993: First Class in BA (Hons) in Sociology, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, India

Employment History

I have been teaching at IIT Delhi since July 2006 [Assistant Professor level July 2006- december 2012; Associate Professor level from December 2012 onwards]
2005 (July - November): Assistant Professor at Jesus and Mary College
2006 (January-July): Assistant Professor at Hindu College

I have more than 2 years of work experience in the Development sector (Institute of Social Studies Trust, Jagori, Caritas India, HIPA) at the pre-doctoral level.


Vibha Arora and N. Jayaram, 2017, Democratization in the Himalayas: Competing
Interests, Conflict, and Negotiations. Routledge, Delhi. ISBN 978-1-138-24428-3.

Subject Expert and Content Editor: Bloc on ‘Religion’ and ‘Tribe’ for MA in Women in Development, IGNOU, Delhi (2013). Core Expert Committee for course Preparation for BA in Sociology for IGNOU, Delhi (2016).

Vibha Arora and N. Jayaram, 2013, Routeing Democracy in the Himalayas: Experiments and Experiences. Routledge, Delhi. ISBN 978-0-415-81199-6.

Vibha Arora and N. Jayaram (TISS Mumbai), 2009a, Development of Democratic Routes in the Himalayan ‘Borderlands’, Sociological Bulletin, 58(1). ISSN 0038-0229. Available via JSTOR.

Vibha Arora and Justin Scott-Coe (Claremont Graduate University, USA) (2009b), Fieldwork and Interdisciplinary Research, Reconstruction, 9(1). ISSN: 1547-4348 .

Vibha Arora and A. Ganser (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany), 2007, Ecocriticism: Cultural Studies and the Environment, Reconstruction, 7(1). ISSN: 1547-4348

Arora, V., The Making of the Subaltern Lepcha and the Kalimpong Stimulus in V. Arora and N. Jayaram (ed.) Democratization in the Himalayas: Competing Interests, Conflict, and Negotiations. Routledge, Delhi.

Arora, V. and N. Kipgen, Demand for Homeland and Kuki ethnic-nationalism in V. Arora and N. Jayaram (ed.) Democratization in the Himalayas: Competing Interests, Conflict, and Negotiations. Routledge, Delhi.

Arora, V., and Renuka Thapliyal, Integration and Limited Acculturation of Tibetans at Shimla: Experience and Perceptions of a Diaspora in B.K. Pattnaik and Dr. S. Sahoo (ed.) Global Diasporas and Development: Socio-economic, Cultural, and Policy Perspectives. Springer, Delhi. pp. 267-281.

Arora, V., Reconfiguring Lepcha Belonging with Cyber-belonging in G. Toffin and Joanna Pfaff-Czarencka (ed.) Facing Globalization in the Himalayas: Belonging and Politics of the Self. Sage, Delhi, New York, Los Angeles. pp. 344-368.

Arora, V., Envisioning the Save the River Teesta Movement and its Eco-Warriors (2007-10), SummerHill IIAS Review, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, 19(1): 17-27.

Arora, V., ‘Touristifying Himalayan Sikkim: Is the Commodification of its Nature and Culture sustainable?’ in Ishwar Modi (ed.) Modernization, Globalization and Social Transformation [Festschrift for Professor Yogendra Singh]. Rawat, Delhi and Jaipur. pp. 290-303.

Arora, V., Routeing the Commodities of the Empire through Sikkim (1817-1906) in Jonathan Curry-Machado (ed.) Global Histories, Imperial Commodities, Local Interactions (Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies). Palgrave Macmillan, New York & Hampshire. pp.15-37.

Arora, V., ‘The Paradox of Democracy in the Northeast and the Eastern Himalayas’ in Vibha Arora and N. Jayaram (ed.) Routeing Democracy in the Himalayas: Experiments and Experiences. Routledge, Delhi. pp. 101-132.

2012 Arora, V., and N. Kipgen. The Politics of Identifying and Distancing from Kuki Identity, Sociological Bulletin, 61 (3): 401-22. Available via JSTOR.

Arora, V., ‘The Democratic Challenge to Secularizing Sikkim’s ‘Sacred’ Landscape’ in Durga Chhetri and M. Yasin (ed.) Politics, Society and Development: Insights from Sikkim. Gyan Books, Delhi, pp. 47-69.

Arora, V., and N. Kipgen. We can live without power, but we can’t live without our (sacred) land’: Indigenous Hmar Oppose the Tipaimukh Dam in Manipur, India, Sociological Bulletin, 61(1): 109-128. Available via JSTOR.

Arora, V. ‘The Global Dissemination of Destination Sikkim: Sustaining a Paradise’ in M.P. Lama (ed.) Globalisation and Cultural Practices in Mountain areas: Dynamics, Dimensions and Implications. Indus Publication, New Delhi.

Arora, V., Politics of Class(ness) in the Farmers’ Movement in India: Validity of the New Social Movement Paradigm in D.R. Sahu (ed.) Sociology of Social Movement (Studies in Indian Sociology - six volumes). Sage Publications, Delhi. pp. 112-143. Available via JSTOR as an 2001 article published in Sociological Bulletin.

Arora, V., Raghav Bhagat, and Kshitij Chopra. ‘Current Global Financial Crises and Real Estate Sector of Metropolitan India’ in Balwinder Singh Tiwana and V. Upadhyay (ed.) Recent Development Debates: Economic Crisis and Identity Politics. Patiala: Publications Bureau, Punjabi University.

Arora, V., and N. Kipgen. ‘Contemporary Poverty Alleviation Policies and the Historical Marginalization of the Kukis in Manipur, India’ in A.S. Lather, A.K. Saini, and P. Khatri (ed.) Strategies and Innovations for Sustainable Organizations. Delhi: Macmillan Publishers. pp. 423-36.

Arora, V. ‘Walking the ‘Shangri-la’ Sikkim Trail’ in Debal K. Singha Roy (ed.) Globalization, Marginalization, and the Marginalized: The Emerging Context, Manohar, Delhi, pp.121-144.

Arora, V. “Will you buy my yaks? I want to open a teashop in Gangtok?” The crises of roots and routes among the yak-herders of Lhonak valley of North Sikkim, India in Saadet Arslan & Peter Schwieger (ed.) Tibetan Studies: An Anthology. PIATS 2006: Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the Eleventh Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Königswinter 2006. Andiast (Switzerland), International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies GmbH, pp.37-62.

Arora, V., Framing the Image of Sikkim, Visual Studies, April, 24(1): 54-64.

Arora, V., ‘They are all set to dam(n) our future’: Contested Development through Hydel Power in Democratic Sikkim, Sociological Bulletin, January-April, 58(1): 94-114. Available via JSTOR.

Arora, V., and N. Jayaram. ‘Introduction: Development of Democratic Routes in the Himalayan ‘Borderlands’, Sociological Bulletin, January-April, 58(1): 2-5.

Arora, V., and J. Scott-Coe. ‘Fieldwork and Interdisciplinary Research’, Reconstruction, 9(1):1-9.

‘What is Sacred about that Pile of Stones at Mt. Tendong? Serendipity, Complicity, and Circumstantial Activism in the Production of Anthropological Knowledge of Sikkim, India’ in Halstead, Hirsch and Okley edited volume Knowing How to Know: Fieldwork and the Ethnographic Present (European Association of Social Anthropologist Series). Berghahn, Oxford, pp.130-50.

Gandhigiri in Sikkim, Economic and Political Weekly, 20 September, 43(38): 27-28.

Routing the Commodities of the Empire through Sikkim (1817-1906), Commodities of the Empire Working Paper No.9, Open University and London Metropolitan University, United Kingdom, ISSN: 1756-0098, July.

‘An Anthropology of Knowledge and Being in sacred landscapes among the Lepcha and Bhutia tribes of Sikkim, India’ in R.K. Bhadra and Mita Bhadra (ed.) Ethnicity, Movement and Social Structure: Contested Cultural Identity. Rawat Publications, Delhi, pp. 233-75.

Assertive Identities, Indigeneity and the Politics of Recognition as a Tribe: The Bhutias, the Lepchas and the Limbus of Sikkim, Sociological Bulletin, May-August, 56(2): 195-220. ___. Unheard Voices of Protest in Sikkim, Economic and Political Weekly, 25 August, 42(34): 3451-54. Available via JSTOR.

The Roots and the Route of Secularism in Sikkim, Economic and Political Weekly, 23 September, 41(38): 4063-71. Available via JSTOR.

The Forest of Symbols embodied by the Tholung Sacred landscape of North Sikkim, India, Conservation and Society, March-April, 4(1): 55-83. Available open access.

Continuing Engagement of Fieldwork and the Writing Machine in ‘Social Research Methods: Persistent Issues and Emergent Trends’, Indian Journal of Social Work, Jan-April, 67(1-2): 135-148.

‘Text and Context in Sikkim, India’ in Reading Religion in Elisabeth Arweck and Peter J. Collins (ed.) Texts and Context: Reflections of Faith and Practice in Religious Materials. Aldershot, Ashgate, pp. 83-102.

‘Changes in the Perception of Tibetan identities in contemporary Sikkim, India’ in Christiaan Klieger (ed.) Tibetan Borderlands (Proceedings of the Xth International Association of Tibetan Studies, Oxford, 2003). Leiden, Brill, pp. 31-52.

Being Nepali in Sikkim, Contemporary India, January-June, 4(1-2): 127-48.

The Shamans’ Song at Mt. Tendong: Lepcha Environmental Wisdom in NADEE: Compilation of Documents, Third South Asian Solidarity for Rivers and People Conference, Nirjuli Convention at Arunachal Pradesh, June 2005, pp. 167-69.

2005 Review article on South Asian Studies in United Kingdom commissioned by the Higher Education Academy, UK and the British Association of South Asian Studies, UK. goodpractice.aspx?resourceid=2425
2005 Vibha Arora, C. Ingram, C. Awre, Tony Brett, and Gabriel Hanganu. Contextual Resource Environment Evaluation Project in UK Universities (Project of the University of Oxford, the University of Hull, Newark and Sherwood College, and JISC, UK). Available at

Indigenous Medicine in Tim Forsyth et. al. (ed.) The Encyclopaedia of International Development. Routledge, London, pp. 341-2

2004 Biomedicine in Tim Forsyth et. al. (ed.) The Encyclopaedia of International Development. Routledge, London, p. 40.
2001 Politics of Class(ness) in the Farmers’ Movement in India: Validity of the New Social Movement Paradigm, Sociological Bulletin, March, 50(1): 84-121.


Co-convener (with Sohel Firdos), National Seminar on Political Ecology of River Teesta, organized by IIAS Shimla and Sikkim University, Gangtok, 25-26 March 2014.

Organizer of International Workshop on Visual Methods in Social Research: Integration in Research and Teaching, IIT Delhi, funded by QIP Delhi, 2 April 2012.

Member of the Core Coordinating Team for Humanities and Social Sciences courses for the National Program for Technology Enhanced Learning program, IIT Madras, November 2012 onwards.

Member, Standing Committee of the Indian Historical Records Committee, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, December 2013 onwards.

Selector of Young Sociologist Prize, Young Sociologist Workshop, Indian Sociological Society, 25-26 December 2010, Cuttack, India.

Co-selector of Best Paper Prize for the International Planning History Society 2010, 12-15th July 2010, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey.

Member, Organizing Committee, Golden Jubilee Celebrations of IIT Delhi, December 2009 – November 2010.

Member, Organizing Committee, Eight Biennial Conference of Asian Association of Social Psychology, IIT Delhi, 11-14th December 2009.

Co-elector and Co-Chair of Best Paper Prize for the International Planning History Society 2008, University of Illinois at Chicago, 10-13th July 2008.

Convenor and Chair of panel 'Roots and Routes of Democracy in the Himalayas,' 20th European Conference of Modern South Asian Studies, University of Manchester, 8-11 July 2008.

Member, Executive Council, International Planning History Society, 2007-10.

Organizing Committee and Resource Person, the Young Sociologist Workshop, Indian
Sociological Society, 25-26 Dec 2006, Chennai, India.

Member, Organizing Committee and Co-chair of panels on National and International Heritage Policy at the 12th International Planning History Conference, 10-14th Dec 2006, Delhi, India.

Executive Committee member of the Research Committee 15 on Environment and Society of the Indian Sociological Society, 2005-12.


* Writing and Research Fellowship awarded by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Rashtrapati Niwas, Shimla in 2011 for 2 years (period taken was 14 June 2012 to 30 December 2012).

* M.N. Srinivas Memorial Prize, Indian Sociological Society and Indian Council of Social Science Research, November 2008.

* Indo-French Maison des Sciences de l´homme (MSH) Fellowship, September 2008.
* Outstanding Young Faculty Award of IITD and Al-Sagar Fellowship 2008-2013.

* Young Sociologist Award, the Indian Sociological Society, 2005.

* Radhakrishnan Memorial Bequest, University of Oxford, 2004.

* Commonwealth Scholarship Award for doctoral research in England, 2000-2004.

* National Scholarship awarded to University rank holders for postgraduate studies, Ministry of HRD, Govt of India, 1995.

* University Rank and Topper in BA Sociology Hons (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University, India, 1991, 1992, 1993.

Teaching Areas

At Delhi University (2005-06), I have taught undergraduate courses in Economic Sociology, Political Sociology, Family and Kinship, Urban Sociology, Sociological Theory, Sociology of India, Gender and Society.

At IIT Delhi since 2006, I have designed several courses and am engaged in teaching the following at UG and PG level:
Undergraduate level:
* Environment, Development and Society
* Industry and Work Culture Under Globalization
* Political Ecology of Water ((course was designed by me)
* Sociology of India
* Introduction to Humanities and Social Sciences

Postgraduate level:
* Environmental Ethics
* Globalization and Transnationalism (course was designed by me)
* Visual Methods in Social research (course was designed by me)
* Political Ecology, a development critique (course was designed by me)
* Cyberpower and Cyberprotest (course was designed by me)
* Identity, Development and Democracy in North-east India (course was designed by me)
* Methods in Social Research (some modules)