Susan S. Wadley

Region of Interest

South Asia

Primary Country of Residence

United States of America


Director of South Asia Center, and Ford Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies


Syracuse University


Mailing Address

323 Eggers
Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York 13244 USA

Phone/Fax Number(s)

Phone: 315-443-4198


Countries of Specialization


Research Interests

My research interests currently focus on three rather disparate topics. The first is an examination of cultural change in rural India as it responds to 'globalization.' This reflects my previous work on popular religion, oral traditions, and public culture. Second, I am concerned with women's changing roles and the relationship of social change to patterns of education, of fertility, of female-specific mortality, and women's status more generally. Last, I am working on a book manuscript about an oral epic sung in the Braj regions of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The epic, Dhola, is sung by (mostly) illiterate lower caste men, takes some 30 nights to perform in full, and is about powerful goddesses and women, as well as issues of birthright versus achievement. This book is tentatively titled: Raja Nal's Humanity: Inscribing Caste and Gender in the North Indian Oral Epic Dhola.

I recently published a book on social change over the past sixty years in the village known as Karimpur in rural Uttar Pradesh, India (Struggling with Destiny in Karimpur, 1925-1984) and have just (in spring 2000) added an update on the village in 1998 to the original book on this community, Behind Mud Walls. This community sees the old paradigm of control by landlords and family heads being challenged by education, urban employment, migration, and changes in family relationships. Using the voices of men and women, rich and poor, high caste and low caste, I examine the different constructions given to Karimpur history.

Karimpur has also made it to the WEB. Using a slide show designed by Don Johnson of NYU who visited the village regularly in the 1960s and 1970s and who was a friend of Charlotte Wiser, co-author of Behind Mud Walls, we have designed a WEB page that reflects life and change in this community (


2000 "Negotiating New Rules and Values: Four Generations of Rural North Indian Women." Proceedings of the Conference on Quality of Life in South Asia, Hiroshima, Japan.

1999 "A Bhakti Rendition of Nala-Damayanti: Todar Mal's 'Nectar of the Life of Nal'." International Journal of Hindu Studies.

1999 "Dhola". Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Springfield MA: Merriam Webster, pp. 292-293.

1998 "Creating a Modern Epic: Oral and Written Versions of the Hindi Epic Dhola" In Lauri Honko, Jawarharlal Handoo, John Miles Foley, eds. The Epic: Oral and Written. Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Langauges, pp. 151-162.

1998 "Raja Nal's Humanity: Understanding the North Indian Epic Dhola as a Native Anthropology." In Jawaharlal Handoo, ed. Folklore in Modern India. Mysore:Central Institute of Indian Languages, pp.163-174.

1998 "From Village to City to World: Changing the Paradigm of Anthropological Research in India." In Joseph Elder, ed., After Fifty Years: American Studies of India. Manohar Books, New Delhi, pp. 111-138.

1998 "Women to Woman: Charlotte Wiser's Srimati." Manushi, no. 107, pp. 16-23.

1995 "No Longer a Wife: Widows in Rural North India." In Lindsay Harlan & Paul Courtright, eds., From the Margins of Hindu Marriage: Essays on Gender, Religion and Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 92-118.

1995 Media and the Transformation of Religion in South Asia. (Co-Editor) Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

1993 Struggling with Destiny in Karimpur, 1925-1984. University of California Press.

1993 "The 'Village India': A Brahman Widow and Political Action in Rural North India." In D. Lyons Johnson, ed., Balancing Acts: Women and the Process of Social Change. Boulder: Westview, Pp 65-87.

1993 "Family Composition Strategies in Rural North India." Social Science and Medicine 37:1367-1376.

1988 "Female Life Changes in Rural India." Cultural Survival Quarterly 13:35-39.

1989 "Karimpur 1925-1984: Understanding Rural India through Restudies." In P. Bardhan, ed. Conversations between Anthropologists and Economists: Issues in the Measurement of Economic Change in Rural India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

1989 Oral Epics in India. (Co-Editor) Berkeley: University of California Press.

1986 "The Katha of Sakat: Two Tellings." In Blackburn and Ramanujan, eds. Another Harmony: New Approaches to South Asian Folklore, Berkeley: U. Of California Press.


cultural change ; globalization ; popular religion ; oral traditions ; public culture ; ...