Dr. Diane P. Mines


Ph.D. 1995 University of Chicago
M.A. 1985 University of Chicago
B.A. 1983 University of Washington

  • Richard N. Henson Outstanding Advisor Award, College of Arts and Sciences (2019)

Areas of Research/Interest:

Cultural anthropology, materiality and time, narrative, phenomenology of time and place, Tamil Studies; India, South Asia.


Understanding Culture, South Asia through Ethnography, Magic and Modernity, Meaning, History of Anthropological Ideas, Death in Human Experience, Cultural Anthropology


My current research project is an ethnographic, literary, and broadly topo-cultural study peoples’ relation to a type of Tamil landscape known as katu, the forest/wilderness/wasteland. My aim is to elucidate the relation of place, and the things of and in places (tigers, trees, ruins, shrines, people, etc.), broadly to cultural worlds and more narrowly to renderings of local and regional histories. Fieldwork for this project has been supported by a Senior Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies, which was itself funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Previously I have published on the relation between caste, ritual, and politics in south India, looking in particular at how relatively disenfranchised communities use Hindu temple associations and rituals to ground a politics of dignity—an assertion of political power and a sense of mattering in the social world—in contexts where they are otherwise marginalized. I have published works on material culture, exchange, and Hinduism, as well.

Representative Publications:

2010. Village Matters: Relocating Villages in the Contemporary Anthropology of India. Edited by Diane Mines and Nicolas Yazgi. Oxford University Press, New Dehli.

2010 Everyday Life in South Asia, 2nd edition. Edited by Diane Mines and Sarah Lamb. Indiana University Press (First edition 2002). Spring 2010 publication.

2009 Caste in India (a booklet for advanced high school and early college level readers). Key Issues in Asian Studies 3. Association of Asian Studies. Fall 2009 publication.

2005. Fierce Gods: Inequality, Ritual, and the Politics of Dignity in a South Indian Village. Indiana University Press.

Select Articles/Chapters:
2008. Waiting for Vellalakantan. In Tamil Geographies, Martha Selby and Indira Petersen, eds. SUNY. 

2008. Exchange. In Studying Hinduism: Key Concepts and Methods, Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, eds. London and New York: Routledge.

2002. Hindu Nationalism, Untouchable Reform, and the Ritual Production of a south Indian Village. American Ethnologist 29:1 (February 2002).

1997. Making the past past: Objects and the spatialization of time in South India. Anthropology Quarterly Vol 70:4. 

1997. From Homo Hierarchicus to Homo Faber: Breaking Convention through Semiosis. Irish Journal of Anthropology, 2 (1977).

Title: Professor
Department: Department of Anthropology

Email address: Email me

Phone: (828) 262-6382

Fax: (828) 262-2962

Office address
349J Anne Belk Hall