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Angana P Chatterji

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United States


Richard Shapiro

Alma mater
CIIS, San Francisco


Angana Chatterji

Angana P. Chatterji wwwanganachatterjinetwpwpcontentuploads2011

November 1966
Calcutta, India

Notable work
Violent Gods, Buried Evidence

Kashmir: The Case for Freedom

Similar People
Pankaj Mishra, Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy, Jacques Derrida, Hannah Arendt

Dr Angana P Chatterji - Cultural Anthropologist and Human Rights specialist - Gender and the Hindu

Angana P. Chatterji (born November 1966) is an anthropologist, activist, and feminist historian, born and raised in Kolkata, India. Chatterji's research is closely related to her advocacy work and focuses mainly on India. An anthropologist by profession, she has studied majoritarianism, gendered violence, and human rights in Indian Kashmir and communal violence in Orissa. In the context of the United States, she has researched issues related to diaspora and identity politics in American society. She co-founded and was a co-convener of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir from April 2008-December 2012.


Angana P. Chatterji httpsainokofileswordpresscom201006angana1jpg

In 2012, she co-founded with Shashi Buluswar the Armed Conflict Resolution and People's Rights Project, housed at the University of California at Berkeley. The Project co-authored its first research report in 2015, "Access to Justice for Women: India’s Response to Sexual Violence in Conflict and Mass Social Unrest" with the Human Rights Law Clinic at Boalt Law School. In the same year, it also published a monograph, Conflicted Democracies and Gendered Violence: The Right to Heal.

Personal life

Angana Chatterji is the daughter of Bhola Chatterji (1922–1992), a socialist and Indian freedom fighter and Anubha Sengupta Chatterji. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Gooroodas Banerjee, a judge and the first Indian Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta. She grew up in the communally-tense neighborhood of Narkeldanga and Rajabazar in Kolkata. Her family included mixed-caste parents and grandparents, and aunts who were Muslim or Catholic.

Chatterji moved from Kolkata to Delhi in 1984, and then to the USA in the 1990s. She retains her Indian citizenship and is a permanent resident of the United States. Her formal education comprises a BA and an MA in Political Science. She also holds a PhD in the Humanities from CIIS, where she later taught anthropology. Her husband is Richard Shapiro.


From her graduation until 1997, Chatterji worked as director of research at the Asia Forest Network, an environmental advocacy group. During this period, she also worked with the Indian Institute of Public Administration, the Indian Social Institute, and the Planning Commission of India.

Chatterji joined the teaching staff of the CIIS in 1997, and taught Social and Cultural Anthropology there. Her social and academic advocacy work was related to anthropology, since she examined issues of class, gender, race, religion, and sexuality as they are formed by background (history) and place (geography). She employed novel, experimental methodologies, including genealogy, archaeology and applied participatory research. At CIIS, she worked with her colleague and partner Richard Shapiro to create a new academic center focused on postcolonial anthropology.

Both Chatterji and Shapiro were suspended in July 2011 and dismissed in December 2011 after 14 and 25 years of service respectively, after the CIIS received student complaints against them. The CIIS Faculty Hearing Board found them guilty of failure to perform academic duties and violation of professional ethics. According to India Abroad, 39 Anthropology students from a Department of 50 retained legal counsel to take action against CIIS. As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education in January 2012: "A student worker in the dean of students' office, who had been supportive of Shapiro and Chatterji and at odds with her own boss, last fall issued a statement accusing Ms. Strong of being antagonistic toward the anthropology department and pressuring her to say negative things about the two professors.". The matter entered legal arbitration, and all allegations were retracted in January 2013.

Research and publications

Chatterji's publications include research monographs, reports and books. In 1990, she co-published a report on immigrant women's rights in Delhi's slums and resettlement colonies. In 1996, based on participatory research on indigenous and Dalit land rights issues and on caste inequities, she self-published a monograph Community Forest Management in Arabari: Understanding Socioeconomic and Subsistence Issues. In 2004, She co-edited with Lubna Nazir Chaudhury a special issue of Cultural Dynamics (a Sage Publications journal) entitled "Gendered Violence in South Asia: Nation and Community in The Postcolonial Present" In 2005, she co-edited a book with Shabnam Hashmi entitled Dark Leaves of the Present which was non-scholarly and intended for the general public to read. In March 2009, after 6.5 years of collaborative and theoretical research, she produced a study on Hindu nationalism entitled Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India's Present; Narratives from Orissa, published by Three Essays Collective, which received favourable reviews in popular periodicals, and has been reviewed by American Ethnologist.

In December 2009, she was lead author for the report Buried Evidence: Unknown, Unmarked, and Mass Graves in Indian-administered Kashmir; A preliminary report.

She has co-contributed to an anthology with Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy et al., Kashmir: The Case for Freedom (2011) and to South Asian Feminisms (2012), co-edited by Ania Loomba and Ritty A. Lukose. She is co-editor of Contesting Nation: Gendered Violence in South Asia; Notes on the Postcolonial Present (2013) and is working on a forthcoming title: Land and Justice: The Struggle for Cultural Survival

Land struggles

In 1989, Chatterji became involved with the work of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA, "Save the Narmada Movement"). The movement campaigns against the building of thousands of dams on the Narmada river in western India, as part of the Sardar Sarovar Project, which has resulted in the displacement of rural communities. Chatterji wrote on the issue, criticizing the project. She also organized or participated in actions in solidarity with dam-affected peoples, such as visits to the Narmada, one of which included questioning from the Gujarat police. She also participated in a three-day fast in front of the World Bank in Washington D.C. in 2004. In 2004 she and Harsh Mander led an inquiry commission on the experiences and struggles of persons affected by the Indira Sagar dam, one of the thirty mega-dams on the Narmada.

Following work in Delhi slums (1989–90), Rajasthan (1990), and Arabari in Medinipur, West Bengal (1993–96), Chatterji began working in the eastern Indian state of Orissa in 1995 with communities on forest land reform and community governance of land. With Ashok Babu and Vasundhara, she worked and initiated processes with village groups in Orissa for sustainable governance of local resources in ways that support women's leadership.

Hindu nationalism

Influenced by the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, when she worked in relief camps and the 2002 Gujarat violence, she started focusing her work on the rise of Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) in Orissa. She wrote several articles on the topic, including Orissa: A Gujarat In The making (November 2003), which warned about the impending Hindu majoritarian violence against minority Christian groups in Orissa, largely of Dalit and Adivasi descent, and Muslims.

In 2005, she co-convened a People's Tribunal to record testimonials on the experiences and concerns of different stata of people on the rise of the Hindu nationalist Sangh Parivar in Orissa. In this, Chatterji worked with Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights, with Mihir Desai, Retired Chief Justice K.K. Usha of Kerala, Sudhir Pattnaik, Ram Puniyani, Colin Gonsalves and others. As the People's Tribunal on Communalism in Orissa was ongoing in June 2005, Sangh members disrupted the Tribunal's proceedings, threatening to rape and parade the women members of the Tribunal. The Tribunal released a detailed report in October 2006, warning of future violence.

After the outbreak of violence between the Hindu and Christian groups in December 2007, Chatterji testified to the Panigrahi Commission against the Sangh Parivar groups, and warned of further violence. She wrote articles criticizing the Hindutva groups, when fresh religious violence broke out in Orissa after the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda in August 2008.

In March 2009, she published a book titled Violent Gods, which documents the "Hindu nationalism's brutality" in Orissa, including the violence of 2007 and 2008.

Diasporic Hindu Nationalism in the USA

In 2002, Chatterji worked with the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate in the production of a report on the funding of Sangh Parivar service organizations in India by Maryland-based India Development and Relief Fund.

In 2005, she helped form and worked with the Coalition Against Genocide in the United States to raise public awareness and protest the visit of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to the U.S. as an honored guest. She co-authored the report, "Genocide in Gujarat The Sangh Parivar, Narendra Modi, and the Government of Gujarat". The Coalition's activism led to Narendra Modi being denied visa to the United States. Chatterji's work triggered strong responses from the Sangh Parivar and its supporters in India and US.


In 2006, Chatterji began working with organizations in the Indian Kashmir, at the invitation of Parvez Imroz, a human rights lawyer and a civil rights activist in Srinagar. In April 2008, Chatterji and Imroz founded the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice (IPTK), which aims to document and internationally publicize the human rights abuses and state violence in the Indian Kashmir. The Tribunal also sought to document the state of juvenile justice, prisoner rights, the use of land-mines, illegal detentions, and minority issues. It also aimed to analyse the conditions in Kashmir wrought by the presence of Indian military, and the alleged subjugation of movements for self-determination.

In June 2008, Chatterji and Imroz alleged harassment and intimidation by the Indian security forces. In July of the same year, Chatterji wrote about "mass graves" in Indian Kashmir. She was legally charged by the Kashmir Police with inciting and acting against the State for her work on mass graves. In July 2008, Chatterji and Imroz were invited by the Human Rights Subcommittee of the European Parliament to testify on the mass graves in Indian Kashmir. In April 2009, Chatterji was featured in MTV-Iggy's media public-awareness campaign on Kashmir, describing the work of the Tribunal and the struggle in militarized Kashmir.

During the 2008 Kashmir unrest, Chatterji documented the Indian state's use of violence against non-violent protesters, and submitted a collaborative researched letter to Philip Alston the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The dossier documented a "list of 51/52 civilians reportedly killed by the Indian military and paramilitary forces; and a list of reported attacks on medical facilities, personnel, and vehicles." In February 2009, the Tribunal sent a memorandum to the new Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, asking for the state government's attentiveness to the alleged disappearances, fake encounter killings, torture, gendered violence, the rights of former militants and land mines.

On 12 November 2009, Chatterji was invited as a speaker during the Kashmir Initiative, a series of speaking events organised by the Harvard University's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

On 2 December 2009, the Tribunal released a report titled Buried Evidence: Unknown, Unmarked, and Mass Graves in Indian-administered Kashmir, detailing its verification of 2700 unknown, unmarked and "mass graves", holding more than 2,943 bodies across 55 villages in Bandipora, Baramulla and Kupwara districts. The report received extensive national and international news coverage. On 6 June 2010, the Tribunal released a brief on the alleged fake-encounter killings of Shahzad Ahmad, Riyaz Ahmad, and Mohammad Shafi in Kupwara district, titled "Fake Encounters and State Terror in Kashmir". Chatterji presented the findings of the "Buried Evidence" report before the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir (APPG-K) of the U.K. Parliament on 16 June 2010, urging "international and independent investigations into the issue of fake encounters, disappearances, and unknown and mass graves" and asked the UK Parliament to "reintroduce and pass the Early Day Motion #433, introduced in the House of Commons... on December 10, 2009, based on IPTK’s report". In 2011, the State Human Rights Commission of Jammu and Kashmir corroborated the IPTK's report.

During the upheaval of the summer of 2010, the Tribunal held a press conference on 29 June, releasing a statement analyzsng the political context of the protests, criticizing the approach of the Indian state as "aggressively militaristic" and the Government for not engaging with civil society or the "pro-freedom leadership". It also submitted an appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, giving details of 51 civilian deaths. In response to the arrest of Advocate Mian Qayoom, President of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association in Srinagar, the Tribunal also released a statement on 15 July, noting the "permanent 'state of exception' in Kashmir" and raising concerns that national security laws, such as the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act of 1978, are being "used arbitrarily in Indian-administered Kashmir to repress dissent without due cause or process".

On 30 August 2010, Chatterji was announced as a member of Advisory Board of the Kashmir Initiative at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy of Harvard Kennedy School.

In November 2010, Chatterji's husband, Richard Shapiro, was denied entry to India by immigration authorities at the Delhi airport, and was forced to return to the United States. Though no official reason was given to Shapiro for the denial of entry, many suspect that he had been denied due to Chatterji's work on human rights issues in Kashmir.

Recent Publications

In October 2011, Verso Press published the book Kashmir: The Case for Freedom, of which Chatterji is a contributing author.

She is co-editor of Contesting Nation: Gendered Violence in South Asia; Notes on the Postcolonial Present (Zubaan Books), released in April 2013.

In 2012, she co-founded with Shashi Buluswar the Armed Conflict Resolution and People's Rights Project, housed at the University of California at Berkeley. The Project co-authored its first research report in 2015, "Access to Justice for Women: India’s Response to Sexual Violence in Conflict and Mass Social Unrest" with the Human Rights Law Clinic at Boalt Law School. In the same year, it also published a monograph, Conflicted Democracies and Gendered Violence: The Right to Heal. The monograph included a statement by former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and a foreword by Veena Das.


Angana P. Chatterji Wikipedia