Nicolas Martin

Nicolas Martin, Prof. Dr.

Assistenzprofessor für Moderne Indologie / Südasienwissenschaft

Mercator-Professur für Moderne Indologie / Südasienwissenschaft

Tel.: +41 44 634 38 18

Raumbezeichnung: RAA G-30

Academic Biography

Professor Nicolas Martin obtained both his BA and his PhD in social anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). After completing his PhD in 2009— based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in rural Pakistan and entitled ‘Politics, Patronage and Debt Bondage in the Pakistani Punjab’— and until 2012 he was a teaching fellow at the LSE Anthropology Department. During this time he taught courses in political and legal anthropology, economic anthropology, the anthropology of South Asia, and a course on ethnographic text and film. He also produced academic articles on agrarian change, the evolving nature of patron-client ties, and on debt bondage, and a book entitled Politics, Landlords and Islam in Pakistan that was published by Routledge in 2015.  The book explores the above themes in greater detail, but also examines electoral politics, factionalism, violence and electoral fraud, as well as the relationship between Sufi Islam and landed power.

In 2012 Professor Martin became a Senior Research Fellow at the University College London department of Anthropology after he and a team of researchers obtained research grants from both the European Research Council (ERC) and Economic and Social Research (ESRC) to study the tightening nexus between politics, crime and business across South Asia.  In 2013 he embarked upon fifteen months of fieldwork in an agrarian region of the Indian Punjab.  Building on his previous research interests, Professor Martin has been examining the relationships between clientelistic politics, violence and inequality in rural Punjab.  In 2015 he published an article in Economic and Political Weekly examining the limits of lower caste political assertion. He is currently writing articles and planning his second book based on his recent fieldwork in India.  Topics include: ‘bossism’, violence and extortion, electoral malpractice, factionalism, and the changing relationship between caste and class. During the autumn of 2015 Professor Martin was a visiting lecturer at the anthropology department of the University of Bern where he taught a course entitled ‘Politics, Economy and Society in India’.

Research Interests

Political and economic anthropology of India/Pakistan, democracy and authoritarianism, clientelism, elections, violence, agrarian change, debt bondage, Islam.

Selected Publications

forthcoming 2018

Mafia Raj: The Rule of Bosses in South Asia (South Asia in Motion) by L. Michelutti et al. (eds.). Stanford University Press.


'Corruption and Factionalism in Contemporary Punjab: An ethnographic account from rural Malwa.' In Modern Asian Studies, 52(3), pp. 942-970.

2017 Martin, N. and Michelutti, L. 'Protection Rackets and Party Machines.' In Asian Journal of Social Science, 45(6), pp. 693-723.


Politics, Landlords and Islam in Pakistan.  Delhi & London: Routledge.

2015 ‘Rural Elites and the Limits of Scheduled Caste Assertiveness in the in rural Malwa, Punjab.’ In Economic and Political Weekly Volume L, No. 52.
2014 ‘The Dark Side of Patronage in the Pakistani Punjab.’In A. Piliavski(ed)Patronage as the Politics of South Asia, Delhi: CUP.
2013 ‘Class, Patronage and Coercion in the Pakistani Punjab and in Swat,’ in M. Marsden and B. Hopkins (eds) Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier, Columbia/Hurst.
2013  ‘The Dark Side of Political Society: Patronage and the Reproduction of Social Inequality.’ Journal of Agrarian Change. Doi:10.1111/joac.12039.
2009 ‘The Political Economy of Bonded Labour in the Pakistani Punjab.’ In Contributions to Indian Sociology Volume 43, No.1 (February).

Fellowships, Awards

2012-2014 Research Fellow, ERC Starting Grant Reserch Project (Project title: An anthropological investigation of muscular politics in South Asia - PI Lucia Michelutti (Univeristy College London). Project partners: University of Oxford, University of Oslo, King's College (University of Cambridge) and DFID-India. Project starting date: 1st March 2012. Project duration: 48 months.
2011/2012 LSE Departmental Teaching Award
2009 Firth Prize 2007/8 for Friday Morning Seminar paper ‘The Political Economy of Bonded Labour in the Pakistani Punjab’, Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics.