Faculty and Staff

Balmurli Natrajan

Professor • Community and Social Justice Studies

Dr. Balmurli Natrajan is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Community Development and Social Justice at William Paterson University of New Jersey, USA. An anthropologist, marine engineer, and software developer by training, his research and teaching is on Group formation, Identity & Inequalities (caste, race, community, culture, diversity, cognition, variation, and transmission); Globalization and International development (sanitation, domestic work, indebtedness, livelihoods); India and South Asia. Dr. Natrajan's book "Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age" (2011) is on the new modes of persistence of caste in India, and his co-edited volume "Against Stigma: Studies in Caste, Race and Justice Since Durban" (2009) is on the global discourse of 'race' and caste. His current work is on sanitation practices and development policy in India. For more information visit his website (see link above).


PhD Anthropology, University of Iowa Iowa City, IA

MS Computer Science, Southern Polytechnic State University Marietta, GA

MA Anthropology, Iowa State University Ames, IA

BE Marine Engineering, Marine Engineering Research Institute (DMET) Kolkata, India


Group formation; Caste, Race; Identity & Inequality; Culture & Transmission; Development; India

Representative Publications

The culturalization of caste in India: Identity and inequality in a multicultural age; Routledge; 2011

Racialization and ethnicization: Hindutva hegemony and caste; Ethnic and Racial Studies; Volume 44, 2021

‘Why don’t they use the toilet built for them?’: Explaining toilet use in Chhattisgarh, Central India; Volume Contributions to Indian Sociology, 55(1), 2021

Cultural Identity and Beef Festivals: Toward a ‘Multiculturalism Against Caste’; , Contemporary South Asia; Volume 26, 2018

Against Stigma: Studies in Caste, Race, and Justice Since Durban; Orient BlackSwan; 2009

Representative Presentations

Castes Without Casteism? The Real Beef with Caste and ‘Culture’
British Association of South Asian Studies
Nottingham, 2017

“Caste as Political Identity: Difference, Hegemony, Solidarity”
Rethinking Difference in India: Racialization in Transnational Perspective American University, D.C.
Washington D.C, VA 2019

Awards and Honors

Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad grant


The myth of the Indian Vegetarian Nation
A news article based on my co-authored publication 'Provincializing vegetarianism"

An interview podcast on "What is Hindutva" at the Polis Project
In this Podcast, Suchitra Vijayan (polis Project) speaks to Prof. Balmurli Natrajan about the political and cultural history of Hindutva - ultranationalist authoritarian populism in India.

Anthropology Course Explores the Life Cycle of, Say, Your Pen
The Chronicle did a piece on Dr. Natrajan's course on "Global Transformations and the Human Condition" at William Paterson University of New Jersey in which students do a project about the 'social life of everyday objects' to learn about globalization and development.

Fellowships, Grants and Research

Senior Fellowship Grant

Worlds of Work: Meeting the Challenge of Teaching Asia in the 21st century" for K-12 teachers

Notable Courses Taught

Global Transformations and the Human Condition
Culture, Identity, and Cognition
Language Matters
Research Methods
Foundations of Community Development

104 Atrium

By appointment