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Prof. Sarover Zaidi
Associate Professor of Practice

Sarover “bombaywalee' Zaidi Studied philosophy at St. Stephen's College and Sociology and Social Anthropology at the Delhi School of Economics, Delhi and at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany. Besides this, she has lived in a Buddhist nunnery, worked on poverty, health and hunger death issues across Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, learnt how to center a clay pot, obsessively collected iconography and images in Islam and Hinduism, taught medical doctors the poetics and politics of life, and ran courses of social anthropology for artists, photographers architects, and monks. She runs an interdisciplinary forum 'Elementary forms and the city', which attempts to mess disciplines up from the inside. She is working on her book on religion and architecture, and in her other time she is painting, reading Freemason manuals, trying to be a yoga teacher, or doing vicarious people watching in public parks of Delhi. For her the search and wearing of red jackets is critically important

BA Hons.: Philosophy, St. Stephens College, University of Delhi, India.
MA: Sociology, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, and Delhi, India.
MPhil.: Sociology/Social Anthropology titled 'Understanding experience: between life, language and knowledge’. Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India.
PhD (ongoing) : 'Religious architecture, everyday life and urban space in Bombay' from Max Planck Institute for Ethnic and Religious Diversity, Gottingen, Germany and University of Utrecht, Netherlands.

Teaching and Research Interests

Material culture studies, Design theory, Anthropology of architecture, Anthropology of religion, Science and technology studies, Philosophy, Semiotics, Urban studies, continental philosophy, Art and Aesthetics, Public health, Indian Philosophy, Post Structuralism.


Publications (selected)

  • December 2021  Love in the time of Monumental, contribution to special volume “Thinking with Ruins” by AGAYA special issue publication, Berlin, Germany. (forthcoming)
  • January 2021 '1984 and the making of a street in Delhi'. Journal: Revista Astragalo, revista de la cultura y la ciudad, Issue: 27, Special issue edited by Prof. Carla Carmona: Delhi and Its Inhabited Imaginaries. Architectures of Living 
  • 2020 If on a winter's night... Azadi in Shaheen Bagh and the Idea of India: Writings on a Movement for Justice, Liberty and Equality. Edited Volume by Seema Mustafa, Speaking Tiger Books.
  • 2020 A Barricade Diary: THE PROTESTS AGAINST INDIA’S CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT, The Funambulist, Volume28.
  • 2020 Homing and Un-homing: Taxonomies of Living, Published in online magazine,
  • 2019 Et tu Brutalism: of anxious rooms and modernist architecture, in DOMUS India, Auguest 2019
  • 2019 Taxonomies of this ordinary life in Bharti Kher, Volume I, The Trick is Living, Edited volume, Published by MAPIN India
  • 2017 'Concrete (In three parts)' based on Ramkinker Baij's, 'Mill Call', in TAKE Fiction (Vol. 3, Issue 2) TAKE ON Art magazine
  • 2017 On two modes of witnessing: Azadeh Akhlagi and Gauri Gill' Critical Collective, Delhi.
  • 2016 Religious Iconography in Islam: some motifs from Shia contexts, Autumn Volume 43, Number 2, India International Centre Quarterly, Delhi
  • 2016 'Where there is no architect; histories from the native town of Bombay', published in the online journal of Ajam Media Collective, July
  • 2016 ‘The City and the city: space and semiotics of Muslim Bombay’; The Funambulist Magazine 4 (March-April 2016): Carceral Environments.

Conferences/Invited Talks (selected)

  • 2021 Invited speaker for BBC Radio 4, First Row, discussion on Politics and architecture in India Link:             kPyIIj4E91hXOfTnicZMUamjfXleRVy-Q7EkUlyN6bh0c
  • 2021  Invited speaker, UNESCO/SPA, Delhi forum on Heritage Tourism and Locality - Nizamuddin                
  • 2020 Invited discussant, Serendipity Art's Festival, Goa & Jury member for School of Architecture and Environment, Bombay
  • 2019 Invited speaker for Gods in the Public Sphere: Political Deification in  India and Beyond, CSSSC and the University of Oslo, Kolkata, December
  • 2019 Invited speaker  international conference “Destruction/(Re-)Construction: Case Studies on Cultural Heritage in Conflict”of the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA)in Beirut/Lebanon, October
  • 2019 Invited Speaker, Art Laws of India, Piramal Foundation, Bombay, August 2019
  • 2019 Invited speaker, Humboldt South Asia Studies, Berlin, June
  • 2019 Invited talk, at CERI, Paris for workshop on at Sunnis, Shias, Sufis and other Muslims in India with Christophe Jaffrelot, Scienes Po, June. 2019
  • 2019 Invited Keynote speaker, Research Seminar, CEPT University, Ahmedabad. February 2019
  • 2018 On the anthropology of horizons, Ted Talks India. Link:
  • 2018 Invited speaker South Asia Institute, University of Berkeley, California
  • 2018 Plenary speaker at South Asia Conference, Madison, on Aesthetics, Power, and Political Economy in Modern South Asia.
  • 2017 Invited speaker "Of Indian Ocean milieus:  architecture, identity, and ritual of Shia Bombay", Department of History, Columbia University, New York.
  • 2016 Invited speaker, Indian Oceanic Topographies, UC Davis conference, California, USA.
  • 2015 Selected speaker. Princeton South Asia Conference, Princeton, USA
  • 2011 Selected for mapping controversies workshop undertaken by Prof. Bruno Latour, Sciences Po, at the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics. Also invited to interview Prof. Bruno Latour.



Insurgent Domesticities: Research project of Centre for the study of Social Difference, Columbia University, New York, USA


Honorary positions/curatorial work

Board Member, Print Club Delhi, a printmaking initiative working with artists

Contributor and core member of, a website exploring ways of writing the city, 2017 onwards.

Board Member Kat-Katha Puppet Theatre group, Delhi.

Khwaab Tanha Collective, artist's and literary collective core team member.  

Muslim Women's Forum, NGO, core team member, 2018- 2021.

Curatorial work for 'Spatial Dialogues' exhibition at Shrine Empire, March 2021.

Writer, critic and curator in residence, Khoj International Artists Association, Coriolis Effect Ed III residency, 2017

Conceptualizer, and curator of Elementary Forms, an interdisciplinary forum on art, architecture and anthropology, 2016 onwards


Research Projects / Curations / Exhibitions (selected)

2016 – onwards - Conceptualizer, and curator of Elementary Forms, an interdisciplinary forum on art, architecture and anthropology

2017 - Contributor and core member of, a blog exploring ways of writing the city

2017 - Writer, critic and curator in residence, Khoj International Artists Association, Coriolis Effect Ed III residency

2016 – onwards - India Foundation for the Arts fellowship to research ‘iconography in Islam inthe contexts of India’ – November 2016-17

2015-2016 - INTACH fellow Research Fellow – INTACH Fellowship for ‘Documentation of Islamic Iconography in India, with a focus on metalwork in Shi’a Iconography


Courses taught/research interests

Courses taught: Materials and making (Studio course), Modern South Asia, Design Theory, Society and Culture, Border's, Camps, and Ghettos.

Research interests: Philosophy, Semiotics, Science and technology studies, religious studies, urban studies, anthropology, art and aesthetics, and material culture studies and.