BA (Philosophy) (USyd); MA (Sociology) (Macquarie); PhD (Anthropology) (ANU)


My research contributions fall into five broad areas:

  1. The lives of Dalit rural women in Tamil speaking south India: My contributions integrate deep empirical ethnographic engagement with the lives of rural women in order to address contemporary political issues of postcolonial modernity, gender and class inequality, social movements, religion and illness/wellbeing. It redresses the fact that such lives are still largely absent from debates about ‘modernity’, ‘post-colonialism’ and ‘feminism’, and are dealt with much more narrowly as appropriate to programs and debates on ‘development’. My publications have systematically addressed this exclusion, but they also actively address the meaning of ‘development’ itself from the perspective of those targeted by programs. By focusing on deeply lived and embodied experiences of puberty, maternity, midwifery, as well as labour, my contribution has been to expand the meanings of injustice while highlighting the strength and resilience of cultural and religious frameworks that cross the borders of official religions while maintaining spaces for Dalit women to address their concerns in novel and creative ways.
  2. Experiences of illness and people’s engagement with multiple modalities of medicine in rural India: My work shows the criss-cross between religion, older ‘humoral’ understandings of the body, biomedicine, and state programs such as family planning in rural India.
  3. Women’s Activism, social movements and resistance: Seeking to re-define what we mean by terms such as universalism and experience – rather than to dispense with them - my empirically based contributions attend to the embodied and affective dimensions of female experience as they feed into wider social movements that seek to address inequality.
  4. Performance Aesthetics in postcolonial India: My contribution lies in bringing together an account of historical transformations and aesthetic performativity of South Asian dance and music without sacrificing attention to the aesthetics and phenomenological experience of both performers and audiences in the Indian diaspora as well as in postcolonial India. Performance pedagogy also provides useful ways of re-framing human agency.
  5. Phenomenological anthropology. My contribution addresses the relative absence of gender-related issues in phenomenological anthropology, and extends the field into engagement with affect theory, feminist philosophy and postcolonial studies.

2002-2020 Associate Professor of Anthropology, Anthropology, Macquarie University

2001 Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. (6 months)

2010-2014 Inaugural Director of India Research Centre, Macquarie University


  • ANU Research Fellow (1991-1995),
  • ARC Research Fellow (1996-2000),
  • Visiting Fellowship, Leipzig University (2016)
  • Visiting Fellow of University of Delhi (2018),
  • Visiting Fellow of Max Weber Institute, Erfurt, Germany (2011, 2018)


  • 2020 Selection as Leibniz Professor, Leipzig University, Germany (2020)
  • 2011 Community Felicitation as High Achiever in Women’s Forum, International Women’s Day, awarded by United Indian Association, peak body for NSW Indian Associations (2011)
  • 2009 Selection of paper ‘Rationalising Fecund Bodies’, originally published in Borders of Being (eds.) Jolly and Ram 2001, selected for republication as one of 60 academic works that have ‘defined the study of women in Asia over last two decades’, in Women in Asia: Critical Concepts in Asian Studies. Routledge (2009), The Routledge Major Works series.
  • 2008 High Commendation by Australian Anthropological Society for Best Publication in 2007 in Australian Anthropological Journal, for 2007 paper ‘Un-timeliness as Moral Indictment: Tamil agricultural labouring women’s use of lament as life-narrative’, The Australian Journal of Anthropology.
  • 2008 Award for Innovation in Teaching, Division of Society Media Culture Philosophy, Macquarie University


  • Australian Anthropological Society
  • South Asian Studies Association of Australia
  1. Ram, K. 2021 ‘The magic of “mudrās” and performance as “loving play”: the limits placed on intellectualism and rationalizing reforms by the performing arts of India.’ in Objects and Standards: on the limitations and effects of fixing and measuring life. (eds.) T. Larsen, M. Blim, T. Porter, K. Ram, N. Rapport. Carolina Academic Press, Durham, 2020
  2. Ram, K. 2020 ‘Are Dalit Women allowed to claim “Tradition”? The phenomenology and politics of tradition in Tamil Nadu.’ Journal of Asian Medicine, Vol. 15.
  3. Ram, K. 2016 ‘Gaining Access to the Radically Unfamiliar: Religion in Modern Times’ in J. Rupke ed. Dynamics of Religion, De Gruyter Press.
  4. Ram, K. 2015 ‘Mood and Method: Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty on Emotion and Understanding.’ in Ram, K. and C. Houston (eds.) Phenomenology in Anthropology. A sense of Perspective. Indiana University Press.
  5. Ram, K. 2013 Fertile Disorder: Spirit Possession and its provocation of the Modern. University of Hawai’i Press