Prof. Dr. Ursula Rao

Prof. Dr. Ursula Rao

Adjunct Professor

Fakultät für Geschichte, Kunst- und Regionalwissenschaften
Institutsgebäude
Schillerstraße 6
04109 Leipzig

Abstract

URSULA RAO is Adjuct Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Leipzig and Director of the Department 'Anthropology of Politics and Governance' at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle (Saale), Germany. Her research explores questions of politics and governance in India, with a specific focus on urban dynamics. Currently, she is involved in several research projects about the social consequences of biometric technology and e-governance. How do the new tools and techniques of governing impact human relations and state-citizens interactions? Other fields of interests include question of urban citizenship and social justice, as well as journalistic practices, ritual theory and urban Hinduism.


Until 2020 she was Professor of Anthropology at the University of Leipzig and held academic positions at the University of Heidelberg (1999-2002), the University of Halle (2002-2006) and the University of New South Wales, Sydney (2007-2012).

Professional career

  • since 09/2020
    Director of the Department 'Anthropology of Politics and Governance' at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
  • since 09/2020
    Adjunct Professor for Social Anthropology, Leipzig University
  • 10/2012 - 08/2020
    Professor of Anthropology & Head of Department of Anthropology, University of Leipzig
  • 01/2008 - 09/2012
    Associate Professor of Sociology & Anthropology, School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney
  • 04/2007 - 12/2010
    Senior Lecturer in Sociology & Anthropology, School of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of New South Wales, Sydney
  • 09/2002 - 03/2007
    Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University Halle

Education

  • 09/1994 - 09/1999
    PhD in Anthropology at the University of Heidelberg, title of the thesis: "Negotiating the Divine. Temple Religion and Temple Politics in Contemporary India"
  • 09/2002 - 11/2006
    Post-doc at the Universty of Halle, title of the thesis: "Journalistic Practices and the Re-making of Leadership Traditions in India".

Except from developing a research agenda for the Department 'Anthropology of Politics and Governance' (https://www.eth.mpg.de/politicsgovernance), Ursula Rao is involved in several national and international research projects and initiatives based on third party funding, such as Digital governance and the respatialization of the Indian state; Project A5 in SFB 1199 (https://research.uni-leipzig.de/~sfb1199/) and the Shaping Asia Network (www.shapingasia.net).


4 research foci shape her own work:

  • City-Space: The project on Smart City explores how two worlds, often described as the global and the local India, are placed in a new tension through digital technologies.
  • Digital administration and biometrics: In the age of digital administration, the relationship between citizen and state is changing. What does it mean for individuals when identification is biometric and entitlements are determined through algorithmic processes?
  • Media, practice, politics: Recent contributions continue the insights from media practice research into conceptual reflections on the medialisation of social relations in the digital age.
  • Ritual as a space of negotiation: The book Im Raum des Rituals is one of the standard works of ritual research today. By viewing rituals as theatrical enactments, it illustrates their role in social transformations. More recent works take these ideas further into conceptual reflections on urban space.


  • Infrastructure and the re-making of Asia through adopting, orchestrating and cooperating
    Rao, Ursula
    Duration: 01/2020 - 12/2022
    Funded by: DFG Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
    Involved organisational units of Leipzig University: Ethnologie
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  • Life, living and livelihood in Satellite Cities: New Urban forms in India
    Jakimow, Tanya
    Duration: 01/2020 - 12/2022
    Funded by: Andere öffentliche Bereiche
    Involved organisational units of Leipzig University: Ethnologie
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  • Digital Governance and the Respatialization of the Indian Nation State
    Rao, Ursula
    Duration: 01/2020 - 12/2023
    Funded by: DFG Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
    Involved organisational units of Leipzig University: Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics (ReCentGlobe); Institut für Ethnologie; Ethnologie; SFB 1199: Verräumlichungsprozesse unter Globalisierungsbedingungen
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more projects

  • Rao, U.; Niels, Z.; Maguire, M. (Eds.)
    Bodies as Evidence. Security, Knowledge and Power
    Durham: Duke University Press. 2018
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  • Rao, U.
    Biometric Bodies, Or How to Make Electronic Fingerprinting Work in India
    Body & Society. 2018. 24 (3). pp. 68-94
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  • Rao, U.
    Tolerated Encroachment
    Cultural Anthropology. 2013. pp. 760-779
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  • Rao, U.
    Incremental Gentrification. Upgrading and the predicaments of making India slum-free
    In: Low, S. (Ed.)
    The Routledge Handbook of Anthropology and the City. Oxon: Routledge. 2018. pp. 190-203
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  • Nair, V.; Rao, U. (Eds.)
    Aadhaar. Governing With Biometrics
    South Asia. 2019. 42 (3)
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more publications

At post-graduate level Ursula Rao regularly teaches writing workshops for master students of social anthropology during which they learn to write academic papers in several stages, as well as to formulate third-party funding applications and project proposals. They are also introduced to peer-review procedures.

  • Writing Workshops, MA – 03- ETH 2011, MA – 03- ETH 2013

    During these workshops students learn to write academic papers in several stages, as well as to formulate third-party funding applications and project proposals. They are also introduced to peer-review procedures.



  • Guest Lectures

    Ursula Rao regularly gives guest lectures on the topics "South Asia", "Hinduism", "Globalisation" and "Regional Studies".