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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

Nicolas Martin

Nicolas Martin, Prof. Dr.

  • Associate Professor of Modern Indian / South Asian Studies
  • Deputy Director Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies
+41 44 634 38 18
Room number
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 Interests

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

Selected Publications


Javid, H. and Martin, N. 'Democracy and Discrimination: Comparing Caste-Based Politics in Indian and Pakistani Punjab.' In South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 43(1), 136-151.


'Enforcing political loyalties in local elections: an ethnographic account from Punjab.' In Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 58(1), 63-81.


Martin, N. and Picherit, D. 'Special issue: electoral fraud and manipulation in India and Pakistan.' In Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 58(1), 1-20.



‘Politics, Capital, and Land Grabs in Rural Punjab’ in The Wild East, Criminal Political Economies across South Asia, London: UCL Press.



‘Political Exclusion and Subordination of Scheduled Castes in Rural Malwa, Punjab.' In Jodhka, Surinder S.; Simpson, Edward(eds) India’s Villages in the 21st Century: Revisits and Revisions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 253-273.



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), 942-970.



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



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



‘Rural Elites and the Limits of Scheduled Caste Assertiveness in the in rural Malwa, Punjab.’ In Economic and Political Weekly Volume L, No. 52.



‘The Dark Side of Patronage in the Pakistani Punjab.’ In A. Piliavski (ed) Patronage as the Politics of South Asia, Delhi: CUP.



‘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.



‘The Dark Side of Political Society: Patronage and the Reproduction of Social Inequality.’ In Journal of Agrarian Change. Doi:10.1111/joac.12039.



‘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 (University College London). Project partners: the 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.



LSE Departmental Teaching Award



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.