Angana P. Chatterji

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Angana P. Chatterji
Angana Chatterji.JPG
Born November 1966
Calcutta, India
Residence United States
Citizenship Indian
Education MA (Political Science)
PhD (Humanities)
Alma mater CIIS, San Francisco
Notable work Violent Gods, Buried Evidence
Partner(s) Richard Shapiro

Angana P. Chatterji (born November 1966) is an Indian anthropologist, activist, and feminist historian. 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.[citation needed] 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.[1]

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.[2] 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.[3] In the same year, it also published a monograph, Conflicted Democracies and Gendered Violence: The Right to Heal.[4]

Personal life[edit]

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 and Catholic.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]


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,[8] and the Planning Commission of India.[9]

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).[7] At CIIS, she worked with her colleague and partner Richard Shapiro to create a new academic center focused on postcolonial anthropology.[10]

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.[11] She was terminated for harassing students in 2011. [12] According to India Abroad, 39 Anthropology students from a Department of 50 retained legal counsel to take action against CIIS.[13] 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.".[14] The matter entered legal arbitration, and all allegations were retracted in January 2013.[15]

Research and publications[edit]

Chatterji's publications include research monographs, reports and books.[16] In 1990, she co-published a report on immigrant women's rights in Delhi's slums and resettlement colonies.[17] 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"[18] 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,[19] which received favourable reviews in popular periodicals,[20][21][22] and has been reviewed by American Ethnologist.[23]

In December 2009, she was lead author for the report Buried Evidence: Unknown, Unmarked, and Mass Graves in Indian-administered Kashmir; A preliminary report.[24]

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.[25] 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 [26]

Land struggles[edit]

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.[27][28] 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.[29] She also participated in a three-day fast in front of the World Bank in Washington D.C. in 2004.[30][31] 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.[32]

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.[33] 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.[34]

Hindu nationalism[edit]

Influenced by the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, when she worked in relief camps and the 2002 Gujarat riots, 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.[35]

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.[36]

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.[37]

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.[38][39][40][41] The Tribunal released a detailed report in October 2006, warning of future violence.[42]

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.[43][44]

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.[19]


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.[45][46] 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.[47][48] In July of the same year, Chatterji wrote about "mass graves" in Indian Kashmir.[49] 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.[50] 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.[51]

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."[52] 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.[53]

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.[54]

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.[55] The report received extensive national and international news coverage.[56][full citation needed] 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".[57] 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".[58] In 2011, the State Human Rights Commission of Jammu and Kashmir corroborated the IPTK's report.[59]

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".[60] It also submitted an appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, giving details of 51 civilian deaths.[61][62] 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".[63]

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.[64]

In November 2010, Chatterji's husband, Richard Shapiro, was denied entry to India by immigration authorities at the Delhi airport,[65] and was forced to return to the United States. Though no official reason was given to Shapiro for the denial of entry,[66] many suspect that he had been denied due to Chatterji's work on human rights issues in Kashmir.[67]

Recent Publications[edit]

In October 2011, Verso Press published the book Kashmir: The Case for Freedom, of which Chatterji is a contributing author.[68]

She is co-editor of Contesting Nation: Gendered Violence in South Asia; Notes on the Postcolonial Present (Zubaan Books), released in April 2013.[69]

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.[2] 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.[3] In the same year, it also published a monograph, Conflicted Democracies and Gendered Violence: The Right to Heal.[4] The monograph included a statement by former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and a foreword by Veena Das.


  1. ^ Conveners of the IPTK
  2. ^ a b Project Website
  3. ^ a b "Access to Justice for Women" Report
  4. ^ a b Project Website
  5. ^ Chatterji, Angana P. (2009). Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India's Present. Three Essays Collective. 
  6. ^ US professor deported for ‘political activism’ in Valley - Indian Express
  7. ^ a b Chatterji's bio on her website
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ So What? Now What? The Anthropology of Consciousness Responds to a World in Crisis, p.13 Matthew C. Bronson, Tina R. Fields, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009
  11. ^ Richard Springer (14 December 2011). "CIIS Fires Two Professors after Student Complaints". India-West. Archived from the original on 8 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Peter Schmidt (22 January 2012). "Questions of Undue Influence Unseat 2 Professors". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2012-02-20. 
  15. ^ According to attorney Dan Siegel's office, Oakland, CA.
  16. ^ WorldCat search
  17. ^
  18. ^ Sage publication abstracts
  19. ^ a b Chatterji, Angana (2009). Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India's Present; Narratives from Orissa. Gurgaon: Three Essays Collective. ISBN 81-88789-45-3. 
  20. ^ Review in People's Democracy, May 17
  21. ^ Review in The Hindu newspaper, 11 August. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  22. ^ Review in Business Standard Review magazine, 28 June.
  23. ^ Badami, Sumant. "Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India's Present; Narratives from Orissa by Angana P. Chatterjee". American Ethnologist. 37: 857–858. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1425.2010.01287_24.x. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Angana Chatterji's Blog
  27. ^ Chatterji, Angana. 2003. Under Siege in the Narmada Valley. Dissident Voice, 27 May.
  28. ^ Chatterji, Angana. 2003. State Repression in the Narmada Valley. Dissident Voice, 21 August.
  29. ^ Solidarity Team to Narmada Valley Harassed by Gujarat Police, Narmada Bachao Andolan press release, 10 August 2003.
  30. ^ [1]
  31. ^ Jensen, Robert. 2004. Why They Fast: Hunger Strike Remembers Victims of World Bank. Counterpunch, 22 April. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  32. ^ Chatterji, Angana P. and Harsh Mander. 2004. Without Land or Livelihood. The Indira Sagar Dam: State Accountability and Rehabilitation Issues. (Report of the Independent People's Commission). New Delhi: Center for Equity Studies.
  33. ^ Ghosh, Malancha. 2004. Resolving Conflict between the State Government Agencies of Orissa and Local Residents through Forest Management Programs. U.C. Berkeley Undergraduate Thesis.
  34. ^ Marra Foundation Archived 7 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  35. ^ Chatterji, Angana. 2004. "The Biopolitics of Hindu Nationalism: Mournings" Cultural Dynamics. 16(2-3): 319-372.
  36. ^ U.S. corporates suspend funding to IDRF - The Hindu
  37. ^ Modi and his visa
  38. ^ Das, Prafulla. 2005. Sangh Parivar activists disrupt tribunal hearing. The Hindu, 15 June.
  39. ^ Human Rights Watch. 2005. Does RSS have any moral standards?. 12 July.
  40. ^ Williams, Mark; Pocha, Jehangir (23 June 2005). "S.F. professor fears Hindu retaliation / Militants threaten rape over investigations of caste tension, she says". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  41. ^ World Prout Assembly. 2005. Sangh Parivar Derails Tribunal on Communalism in Orissa.
  42. ^ Chatterji, Angana and Mihir Desai. 2006. Communalism in Orissa Archived 29 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine.: Report of the Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights. Mumbai: Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights.
  43. ^ Hindutva's Violent History. Tehelka, 5 September 2008.
  44. ^ Opinion Piece on Orissa Violence. Indian Express, 4 October. 2008.
  45. ^ Premise and Objectives
  46. ^ Sarkaria, Mallika Kaur. 2009. On Trial: Human Rights in Kashmir. Harvard Kennedy School Review. Volume 9 (59).
  47. ^ International People's Tribunal intimidated and detained in Indian-administered Kashmir
  48. ^ India: Intimidation and harassment of conveners of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice Archived 18 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  49. ^ Chatterji, Angana. Disquiet Ghosts: Mass graves in Kashmir. Daily Etala'at, 7 August 2008.
  50. ^ Re.: European Parliament Human Rights Subcommittee Hearing on Kashmir
  51. ^ MTV Iggy videos about Angana Chatterji (1, 2, 3, 4, [2]) and the Tribunal (1, 2)
  52. ^ Chatterji, Angana. Letter of Appeal to the UN Re. Cases of Security Forces Killing and Injuring Civilians in Kashmir. 11 September 2008.
  53. ^ International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir. 2009. Kashmir Tribunal Memorandum to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. 11 February.
  54. ^ The Kashmir Initiative: Kashmir Speaker Series
  55. ^ IPTK, "Buried Evidence: Unknown, Unmarked, and Mass Graves in Indian-administered Kashmir". Press release, 2 December 2009.
  56. ^ IPTK. 2010. News.
  57. ^ IPTK, Fake Encounters and State Terror in Kashmir, 6 June 2010.
  58. ^ Re.: Submission of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir to the United Kingdom Parliament's All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir.
  59. ^ 2156 unidentified bodies in 38 graves in Kashmir: state human rights panel inquiry
  60. ^ IPTK, Military Governance in Indian-administered Kashmir, 29 June 2010.
  61. ^ IPTK, Calling for an Investigation into Extrajudicial Killings of Civilians, Press Note on Allegation to the UN. 9 August 2010.
  62. ^ SANA. 2010. IPTK takes up Kashmir killings with UNHCHR Archived 27 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. 10 August.
  63. ^ IPTK, Permanent "State of Exception" in Indian-administered Kashmir, 15 July 2010
  64. ^ Carr Center Advisory Board announcement
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^ Letter from 49 faculty to Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar regarding the barring of Richard Shapiro from India.
  68. ^ Kashmir: The Case for Freedom
  69. ^