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 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.  Based on his PhD, he produced academic articles on agrarian change, the evolving nature of patron-client ties and debt bondage, and a book entitled Politics, Landlords and Islam in Pakistan 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 social inequality in rural Punjab.  Most recently, Professor Martin obtained a four-year SNSF grant for a project entitled 'The Reproduction of Caste? Economic, political and kinship strategies among Jats in Punjab'.


Research topics: caste and class in South Asia, rural sociology and agrarian transformation, clientelism, political violence, governance, and elections.  

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



Principal Investigator, SNSF research project entitled 'The Reproduction of Caste?  Economic, political and kinship strategies among Jats in Punjab.'

Research Fellow, ERC Starting Grant Research 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.