Joel Lee

Photo of Joel Lee

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Hollander Hall Rm 44


B.A. Kenyon College (1998)
M.A. Columbia University (2008)
Ph.D. Columbia University (2015)

Areas of Expertise

Joel Lee teaches and conducts research on religion, language, caste and the state in South Asia.  In particular his work concerns the ways in which Dalits – those communities historically stigmatized as ‘untouchable’ – combat structural deprivation, navigate the politics of religious majoritarianism, and contend with the sensory and environmental entailments of sanitation labor in colonial and postcolonial India.  His research and teaching interests also include linguistic anthropology, semiotics, popular Hinduism and Islam, and Urdu and Hindi literature.



Sensing Society (not offered 2024/25)

ANTH 341 / AFR 341 / ASIA 341 / GBST 341 SEM

Caste, Race, Hierarchy (not offered 2024/25)

ANTH 346 / ARAB 280 / ASIA 346 / REL 346 SEM

Islam and Anthropology (not offered 2024/25)

Scholarship/Creative Work

2023. Concealing Caste: Passing and Personhood in Dalit Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [with K. Satyanarayana]

2023. “Caste and Hindutva.” In The Oxford Handbook on Caste, Surinder Jodhka and Jules Naudet, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 279-289.

2022. “Dalit Religion.” Religion Compass 16(4): 1-11. [with P. Sanal Mohan]

2021. Deceptive Majority: Dalits, Hinduism, and Underground Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2021. “Caste and Covid-19: Notes on Sanitation in a Pandemic.” Economic and Political Weekly 51(13): 35-41. [with Kanthi Swaroop]

2021. “Disgust and Untouchability: Towards an Affective Theory of Caste.” South Asian History and Culture 12(2-3): 310-327.

2018. “Who is the True Halalkhor? Genealogy and Ethics in Dalit Muslim Oral Traditions.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 52(1): 1-27.

2017. “Odor and Order: How Caste is Inscribed in Space and Sensoria.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 37(3): 470-490.

2015. “Jagdish, Son of Ahmad: Dalit Religion and Nominative Politics in Lucknow.” South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ).

2011. Dalit Women Speak Out: Caste, Class and Gender Violence in India. Delhi: Zubaan. [with Aloysius Irudayam and Jayshree Mangubhai]

2005. “Caste Discrimination and Food Security Programmes.” Economic and Political Weekly 40(39): 4198-4291. [with Sukhadeo Thorat].