Joel Lee

Assistant 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, the state, and caste in South Asia.  In particular his work concerns the strategies and tactics of Dalits – those communities historically stigmatized as ‘untouchable’ – to 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.


Note: courses in gray are not offered this academic year.

Scholarship/Creative Work

“Odor and Order: How Caste is Inscribed in Space and Sensoria,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, forthcoming.

“Jagdish, Son of Ahmad: Dalit Religion and Nominative Politics in Lucknow,” South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ), 11, July 2015. URL:

“Lal Beg Underground: the Passing of an ‘Untouchable’ God,” in Objects of Worship in South Asian Religions: Forms, Practices, and Meanings, ed. by Knut A. Jacobsen, Mikael Aktor and Kristina Myrvold. New York: Routledge, 2014, pp. 143-162.

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

“Caste Discrimination and Food Security Programmes,” Economic and Political Weekly, Volume 40, No. 39, September 24, 2005. [Co-authored with Sukhdeo Thorat]. Reprinted in Blocked By Caste, Thorat and Newman, eds., Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009.  Reprinted again in Social Policy, Jean Drèze, ed., Delhi: Orient Longman, 2016.

Current Committees

  • Committee on Admission and Financial Aid (CAFA)