Bio


Thomas Hansen is the Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor in South Asian Studies and Professor in Anthropology. He is also the Director of Stanford’s Center for South Asia where he is charged with building a substantial new program. He has many and broad interests spanning South Asia and Southern Africa, several cities and multiple theoretical and disciplinary interests from political theory and continental philosophy to psychoanalysis, comparative religion and contemporary urbanism.

Much of Professor Hansen’s fieldwork was done during the tumultuous and tense years in the beginning of the 1990s when conflicts between Hindu militants and Muslims defined national agendas and produced frequent violent clashes in the streets. Out of this work came two books: The Saffron Wave. Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India (Princeton 1999) which explores the larger phenomenon of Hindu nationalism in the light of the dynamics of India’s democratic experience, and Wages of Violence: Naming and Identity in Postcolonial Bombay (Princeton 2001) which explores the historical processes and contemporary conflicts that led to the rise of violent socioreligious conflict and the renaming of the city in 1995.

During the last decade, Professor Hansen has pursued a detailed study of religious revival, racial conflict and transformation of domestic and intimate life from the 1950’s to the present in a formerly Indian township in Durban, South Africa. This round of work has now resulted in a book entitled Melancholia of Freedom: Anxiety, Race and Everyday Life in a South African Township (Princeton University Press, 2012). In addition to these ethnographic engagements, Professor Hansen has pursued a number of theoretical interests in the anthropology of the state, sovereignty, violence and urban life. This has resulted in a range of co-edited volumes, and special issues of journals such as Critique of Anthropology and African Studies. He is currently working on a collection of theoretical and ethnographic essays provisionally entitled Public Passions and Modern Convictions.

Academic Appointments


  • Professor, Anthropology

Administrative Appointments


  • Guest professor at the Global South Asia Program, University of Copenhagen (2012 - 2012)
  • Senior Visiting Fellow and Adjunct Professor, Department of Anthropology and South Asia Institute, Columbia University (2009 - 2010)
  • Dean of the International School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam (2008 - 2008)
  • Director of the Graduate School in Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam (2008 - 2008)
  • Lichtstern Visiting Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago. (2007 - 2007)
  • Senior Visiting Research Fellow, WISER, University of the Witwatersrand (2006 - Present)
  • Professor of Anthropology and Religious Studies, University of Amsterdam (2006 - 2010)
  • Senior Research Scientist, Department of Anthropology, Yale University (2006 - 2008)
  • Visiting Professor, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociale (EHESS) in Paris (2005 - 2005)
  • Visiting Professor, School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh (2004 - 2007)
  • Chair of the South Asia Council, The Yale Center for International and Area Studies (2004 - 2006)
  • Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Yale University (2004 - 2006)
  • Professor of Political Anthropology, Department. of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh (2003 - 2004)
  • Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor, University of Bristol (2001 - 2001)
  • Reader, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh (2000 - 2003)
  • Senior Researcher, Danish Centre for Human Rights, Copenhagen (2000 - 2000)
  • Visiting Fellow, University of Natal (1998 - 1999)
  • Visiting Scholar, Department of History, University of Natal, Durban (1998 - 1999)
  • Associate Professor of International Development Studies, Roskilde University (1997 - 2000)
  • Assistant Professor, International Development Studies, Roskilde University (1994 - 1997)
  • Visiting Scholar, Tata Institute of Social Science and Bombay University (1992 - 1993)
  • PhD-candidate, International Development Studies, Roskilde University (1990 - 1994)
  • Teaching Assistant, International Studies, Aalborg University, Denmark (1989 - 1991)
  • Research Assistant, International Studies, Aalborg University, Denmark (1987 - 1988)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Program director, Research Master ‘s in Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam (2006 - 2009)
  • Visiting Examiner, Dept. of Social Anthropology. Goldsmiths College, London (2003 - 2005)
  • Postgraduate convener, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh (2002 - 2004)
  • Honors Course organizer, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh (2003 - 2004)
  • 3rd year course organizer, International Development Studies, Roskilde University (1994 - 1994)
  • 3rd year course organizer, International Development Studies, Roskilde University (1995 - 1995)
  • 3rd year course organizer, International Development Studies, Roskilde University (1997 - 1997)
  • 4th year course organizer, International Development Studies, Roskilde (1997 - 1997)
  • 4th year course organizer, International Development Studies, Roskilde (1999 - 1999)
  • In charge of post graduate seminar (MA and MSc), International Development Studies (1997 - 1997)
  • In charge of post graduate seminar (MA and MSc), International Development Studies (1999 - 1999)
  • External Examiner, Asian Studies, University of Aarhus, Denmark
  • External Expert, (promotions and appointments), London School of Economics and Political Science
  • External expert (promotions and appointments), Department of Asian and South Asian Studies and Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen.
  • External expert (promotions and appointments), Department of Anthropology, Stockholm University
  • Chair of the External Review Committee, reviewing the Department of Anthropology at Cornell University (2013 - 2013)
  • Chair of the Graduate Committee, department of Anthropology, Stanford University (2013 - 2014)
  • Chair of the Curriculum Committee, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Chair of the Graduate Admission Committee, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University (2011 - 2012)
  • Member of professorial appointment committee, Faculty of Social Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden (2011 - 2012)
  • External reviewer of Faculty Fellowships, Humanities Institute, University of Michigan (2011 - 2012)
  • Member of Search committee, Socio-cultural anthropology at Stanford University (2010 - 2011)
  • Member of the Center for Urban Studies, Stanford University (2011 - Present)
  • Member of the Center for Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University (2010 - Present)
  • Member of selection committee, CCSRE External fellowships (2011 - 2012)
  • Member of the advisory Board, Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University (2010 - Present)
  • Founding Director, Center for South Asian Studies, Stanford University (2010 - 2010)
  • Appointed member, International panel evaluating anthropological training and research in Norway. (2010 - 2010)
  • Dean of the International School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam (2008 - 2008)
  • Director of the Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam (2008 - 2008)
  • Member, Board of the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden (2008 - 2010)
  • Coordinator, “Sister City Project” sponsored by the Society for the Study of Transnational Culture (2006 - 2010)
  • Site-coordinator in South Africa for the international research project, “The Religious Lives of Migrants” funded by SSRC (New York) and the Ford Foundation. (2005 - 2009)
  • Director of the research cluster, ‘Religion and identity in a transnational perspective’ at the Amsterdam School of Social Science Research (2006 - 2010)
  • Member, Society for the Study of Transnational Culture, sponsor of the journal Public Culture (2005 - 2009)
  • Chair of The South Asia Studies Council, Yale Center for International and Area Studies (2004 - 2006)
  • Member, Social Science Research Council initiative on Religion and Migration. (2004 - 2006)
  • Member, task force undertaking a thorough evaluation of all Social Anthropology departments at Swedish universities, National Agency for Higher Education in Sweden (2003 - 2003)
  • Member, Research network on ‘Imagining Politics’, and interdisciplinary network of scholars from CERI (2003 - 2008)
  • Key Member and Initiator, Research program ‘Livelihood, Identity and Organization in Situations of Instability' (1996 - 2000)
  • Participant in the comprehensive ENRECA research cooperation program, Center for the Study of Social Sciences, Calcutta and Center for Basic Research, Kampala and Roskilde University (1994 - 2000)
  • Member, Editorial Board, Stanford University Press (2012 - Present)
  • Member, Editorial collective behind the journal Public Culture (2005 - Present)
  • Member of the board, New interdisciplinary ethnography Journal IF: Interview Forum based at Harvard University (2004 - Present)
  • Book Reviews Editor, European Journal of Development Research (1994 - 1996)
  • Member, Editorial Committee of GRUS (1988 - 1996)
  • Reviewer, Cambridge University Press
  • Reviewer, Routledge
  • Reviewer, University of Chicago Press
  • Reviewer, Duke University Press
  • Reviewer, University of Michigan Press
  • Reviewer, Indiana University Press
  • Reviewer, Minnesota University Press
  • Reviewe, Columbia University Press
  • Reviewer, University of California Press
  • Reviewer, Stanford University Press
  • Reviewer, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
  • Reviewer, Cultural Anthropology,
  • Reviewer, American Ethnologist
  • Reviewer, Ethnos Journal
  • Reviewer, Critique of Anthropology
  • Reviewer, Nations and Nationalism
  • Reviewer, South Asia
  • Reviewer, Journal of Asian Studies
  • Reviewer, Contemporary South Asia
  • Reviewer, Modern Asian Studies
  • Reviewer, European Journal of Development Research
  • Member, Association of Social Anthropologists (UK)
  • Member, American Anthropological Association
  • Reviewer, Berg Publishers
  • Reviewer, Princeton University Press
  • Member, Association for Asian Studies

Program Affiliations


  • Modern Thought and Literature

Professional Education


  • Dr. Phil., Roskilde University, Denmark, Habilitation in the social sciences (1997)
  • Doctoral program, Roskilde University, Denmark Roskilde, International Development Studies (1993)
  • MA., Department of Political Science, Aalborg University, Denmark, Political Theory (1989)
  • MA, Center for International Studies, Aalborg University, International Studies (1988)
  • BA, Aalborg University, Denmark, Sociology (1986)

2018-19 Courses


Stanford Advisees


All Publications


  • Civics, civility and race in post-apartheid South Africa ANTHROPOLOGICAL THEORY Hansen, T. 2018; 18 (2-3): 296–325
  • Whose Public, Whose Authority? Reflections on the moral force of violence MODERN ASIAN STUDIES Hansen, T. 2018; 52 (3): 1076–87
  • Aesthetics of arrival: spectacle, capital, novelty in post-reform India IDENTITIES-GLOBAL STUDIES IN CULTURE AND POWER Kaur, R., Blom Hansen, T. 2016; 23 (3): 265-275
  • Migration, religion and post-imperial formations GLOBAL NETWORKS-A JOURNAL OF TRANSNATIONAL AFFAIRS Hansen, T. B. 2014; 14 (3): 273-290

    View details for DOI 10.1111/glob.12059

    View details for Web of Science ID 000337589700002

  • Secular Speech, Popular passion and Public Order in modern India Contesting Secularism Hansen, T. edited by Sorensen, A. B. London: Ashgate Publishing. 2013: 207–231
  • Rethinking the city. Neighbors, strangers and public life in urban India Modernity and Citizenship: Challenges of Building Democratic India Hansen, T. edited by Surinder, J. Delhi: Oxford University Press. 2013
  • From Houses to Barbed Wire: on Houses and Walls in South Africa Texas International Law Journal Hansen, T. B. 2011; 47: 345-353
  • Secular Speech and Popular Passion. Antinomies of Indian Secularism The Law and the Secular/Sacred Divide. Hansen, T. edited by Sullivan, W., Taussig, M. Stanford University Press. 2011: 261–281
  • The Political Theology of Violence in Modern India SAMAJ-Revue (on-line academic journal of South Asian studies edited in Paris) Hansen, T. B. 2009
  • The Unwieldy Fetish. Desire and Disavowal of Indianness in South Africa Eyes Across the Water Hansen, T. edited by Pamila, G., Isabel, H. Pretoria: UNISA Press.. 2009
  • In Search of God’s Hand. Masculinity and Religion Piety and Gender. Comparative Perspectives Hansen, T. edited by Sjoerup, L., Roemer, C. H. Brill: Leiden. 2009
  • Introduction: Portable Spirits and Itinerant People: Religion and Migration in South Africa in a Comparative Perspective AFRICAN STUDIES Hansen, T. B., Jeannerat, C., Sadouni, S. 2009; 68 (2): 187-196
  • Anthropologists and other interpreters in the global cultural economy Antropologie in een zee van verhalen Hanser, T. edited by Sunier, T. Amsterdam: Aksant. 2009
  • Cool Passions: The Political Theology of Modern Convictions Hansen, T. University of Amsterdam Press. 2009
  • Reflections on Salman Rushdie’s Bombay Midnight’s Diaspora. Critical Encounters with Salman Rushdie including a response from the author. Hansen, T. edited by Herwitz, D., Varshney, A. University of Michigan Press. 2008
  • Race, Security and Racial Anxieties in the Post-apartheid City Gender and Urban Space Hansen, T. B. edited by Rieker, M. London: Palgrave. 2008
  • Javeedbhai Muslim Portraits Hansen, T. B. edited by Banerjee, M. Penguin (London and Delhi). 2008
  • On the Difficulties of being Hindu WISER review on Reasons of Faith Hansen, T. 2007
  • The India that does not Shine ISIM Review Hansen, T. 2007
  • Performers of sovereignty - On the privatization of security in urban South Africa CRITIQUE OF ANTHROPOLOGY Hansen, T. B. 2006; 26 (3): 279-295
  • Sovereignty revisited ANNUAL REVIEW OF ANTHROPOLOGY Hansen, T. B., Stepputat, F. 2006; 35: 295-315
  • Where names Fall Short: Naming and Forgetting in contemporary South Africa The Anthropology of Naming Hansen, T. edited by Bodenhorn, B., Bruck, G. V. Cambridge University Press.. 2006
  • Sounds of freedom: Music, taxis, and racial imagination in urban South Africa PUBLIC CULTURE Hansen, T. B. 2006; 18 (1): 185-208
  • Melancholia of freedom: Humour and nostalgia among Indians in South Africa MODERN DRAMA Hansen, T. B. 2005; 48 (2): 297-315
  • Sovereigns beyond the State. On Legality and Authority in Urban India Religion, Violence and Political Mobilization in South Asia Hansen, T. B. edited by kaur, R. New Delhi: Sage Publications. 2005
  • Sovereign Bodies. Citizens, Migrants and States in the Postcolonial World edited by Hansen, T., Stepputat, F. Princeton University Press.. 2005
  • In Search of the Diasporic Self: Bollywood in South Africa Bollyworld Hansen, T. B. edited by Kaur, R., Sinha, A. 2005
  • Between Autochthony and Diaspora. Indians in the ‘New South Africa' Dislocating Nation States Hansen, T. B. edited by Tanabe, A. Kyoto University Press/ Trans Pacific Press (Melbourne). 2005
  • Sovereigns beyond the State. On Legality and Authority in Urban India Sovereign Bodies edited by Hansen, T. B., Stepputat, F. Princeton University Press. 2005
  • BJP and the Compulsions of Politics Hindi Nationalism and Indian Politics edited by Hensen, T. 2004
  • The Saffron Wage: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India Hindu Nationalism and Indian Politics Hansen, T. edited by Mehta, P. B. Oxford University Press. 2004
  • Politics as Permanent Performance: on the production of authority in the locality De-centering the Nation: Politics and Cultural Mobilisation in Contemporary India Hansen, T. B. edited by Wyatt, A., Zavos, J. Sage Publications. 2003
  • Review Essay: “Politics by Other Means – a review of The Production of Hindu – Muslim Violence" IIAS Newsletter Brass, P. R., Hansen, T. B. 2003
  • Souveraene jenseits des Staates Berliner Debatte Initial Hansen, T. B. 2003: 18-28
  • The Ironies of History. A response to Parvati Raman HIMAL Hansen, T. B. 2003: 3 - 6
  • Diasporic Dispositions HIMAL Hansen, T. B. 2002: 12 - 20
  • After the Excess: race, racism and reconciliation in contemporary South Africa Discrimination and Toleration Hansen, T. B. edited by hastrup, K., Ullrich, G. Amsterdam, Kluwer Press. 2002
  • Urban Violence in India: Identity Politics, Mumbai, and the Postcolonial City Hansen, T. Permanent Black. 2001
  • BJP and the Compulsions of Politics edited by Hensen, T. 2001
  • Wages of Violence: Naming and Identity in the Postcolonial Bombay Hansen, T. Princeton University Press. 2001
  • States of Imagination. An Introduction States of Imagination: Ethnographic Explorations of the Postcolonial State edited by Hansen, T. B., Steppulat, D. F. Duke University Press.. 2001
  • Governance and State Mythologies in Mumbai States of Imagination. Ethnographic Explorations of the Postcolonial State. Hansen, T. Durham: Duke University Press. 2001
  • Plays and Politics: Politics and Cultural Identity among South African Indians Afriche e Orienti Hansen, T. B. 2001; 3: 40-48
  • Predicaments of Secularism: Muslim Identities in Mumbai Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Hansen, T. 2000; 6 (2)
  • Bridging the Gulf: Migration and Modernity among Muslims in Mumbai Empire, Migration, Community Hansen, T. B. edited by Bates, C. London, Macmillan. 2000
  • Governance and Myths of State in Mumbai The Everyday State in India Hansen, T. B. edited by Benei, V., Fuller, C. J. Delhi, Social Science Press. 2000
  • Predicaments of Secularism: Muslim Identities in Mumbai Urban Culture and Democracy: Politics in the City Hansen, T. B. 2000: 16-37
  • Plays and Politics: Politics and Cultural Identity among South African Indians Journal of Southern African Studies Hansen, T. B. 2000; 2 (2)
  • The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India Hansen, T. Princeton University Press. 1999
  • The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India Hansen, T. Oxford University Press. 1999
  • Compulsions of Politics. BJP and Competitive Politics in India, Delhi Hansen, T. B. Oxford University Press. 1998
  • The Ethics of Hindutva and the Spirit of Capitalism Compulsions of Politics. BJP and Competitive Politics in India Jaffrelot, C. edited by Hansen, T. B. Delhi: Oxford University Press. 1998
  • ‘Store faser, små historier: om fase teoriens skæbne i udviklingsforskningen’(in Danish) (Big phases, small stories: on the theory of phases within development research’), Den Ny Verden Hansen, T. B. 1998; 30 (3)
  • Compulsions of Politics. BJP and Competitive Politics in India, Delhi Hansen, T. B. Oxford University Press. 1998
  • BJP and the Compulsions of Politics edited by Hansen, T. 1998
  • BJP and the Politics of Hindutva in Maharashtra Compulsions of Politics. BJP and Competitive Politics in India edited by Hansen, T. B., Jaffrelot, C. Delhi: Oxford University Press. 1998
  • Introduction Compulsions of Politics. BJP and Competitive Politics in India Hansen, T. B., Jaffrelot, C. edited by Hansen, T. B., Jaffrelot, C. Delhi, Oxford University Press. 1998
  • Rams Krigere. Religion, nation og politik i Indien Den Ny Verden Hansen, T. B. 1997; 30 (1): 106-122
  • Inside the Romanticist Episteme Thesis Eleven Hansen, T. B. 1997; 48
  • Drømmen om Indien - forestillinger om den indiske nation 1857 -1930 Den Jyske Historiker, Special issue on India Hansen, T. B. 1997: 26
  • Indiens langsomme revolutioner Den Jyske Historiker Hansen, T. B. 1997
  • The vernacularisation of Hindutva: The BJP and Shiv Sena in rural Maharashtra 13th European Conference on South Asian Studies Hansen, T. B. SAGE PUBLICATIONS PVT LTD. 1996: 177–214
  • Recuperating masculinity - Hindu nationalism, violence and the exorcism of the Muslim 'Other' Conference on Comparative Approaches to National Identities in Asia Hansen, T. B. SAGE SCIENCE PRESS. 1996: 137–72
  • Becoming a Light Onto Itself - Nationalist Imaginings in the Age of Globalisation Economic and Political Weekly Hansen, T. B. 1996; 3: 603 - 615
  • Rams Krigere. Religion, nation og politik i Indien Religion Hansen, T. B. 1996; 4 (96)
  • Inside the Romanticist Episteme Social Scientist Hansen, T. B. 1996
  • Review of Christophe Jaffrelot: “The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India” Nations and Nationalism Hansen, T. B. 1996
  • Inside the Romanticist Episteme Occasional Paper Hansen, T. B. 1995
  • Controlled Emancipation : Women and Hindu nationalism Ethnicity, Gender and the Subversion of Nationalism Hansen, T. edited by Wilson, F., Frederiksen, B. F. 1994
  • Controlled Emancipation : Women and Hindu nationalism European Journal of Development Research Hansen, T. B. 1994; 6
  • Making sense of Weber: Secularisation and legitimacy in Indian politics The Theoretical Heritage from Marx and Weber in Development Studies, Occasional Paper Hansen, T. B., Martinussen, J. 1994; 10: 167 - 199
  • Den vrede hindu : Kulturel mobilisering i den globale modernitet GRUS Hansen, T. B. 1993; 41 (14): 50 - 66
  • RSS and the Popularisation of Hindutva Economic and Political Weekly Hansen, T. B. 1993: 2270-2272
  • RSS and the Popularisation of Hindutva Economic and Political Weekly Hansen, T. B. 1993: 2270-2272
  • Sekularisering, religion og ideologi i den moderne verden GRUS Hansen, T. B. 1992; 38 (13)
  • Religion and Ideology in Hindu nationalist Discourse Working Paper Hansen, T. B. 1992
  • Protest. frigørelse eller manipulation - om studiet af sociale og politiske bevægelser i den tredie verden Den Ny Verden Hansen, T. B. 1991; 24
  • From Regionalism to Nationalism: Hindu nationalism in Maharashtra NASA-proceedings Hansen, T. B. 1991
  • Nationalismen som socialismens højeste stadium GRUS Hansen, T. B. 1990; 11 (30)
  • Political Culture and Hegemony - towards a theoretical understanding GRUS Hansen, T. B. 1988; 9 (26): 15