Stanzin Tonyot, Ph.D. Student

Major: Socio-cultural Anthropology

Minor: History (South Asian & World History)


Statement of Interests

My research interests are driven by first hand experience of the tremendous postcolonial political and economic changes brought about by the end of British colonialism, the abolition of the Jammu and Kashmir’s monarchical system, and the birth of India and Pakistan as nation-states, and the emergence of popular politics in Ladakh, a region in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. These changes started with the 1947-48 war between India and Pakistan, which was followed by the deployment of ethnic, religious and regional identity politics, the opening of the region for development and tourism, the emergence and continuation of Kashmir conflict  and terrorism, and the periodic wars with both Pakistan and China. 

The consequences of these changes and conflicts have been played out not only in the regional geopolitical contestations between India, Pakistan and China, but also in the everyday relations between Ladakhis, as evidenced by political agitations since the 1950s, periodic conflict between Buddhists and Muslims, increasing number of religious structures, social boycott of communities, a ban on religious conversion and intermarriage and suspicion between members of the Buddhist and Muslim communities in Ladakh. Since 1996, I have been interested in understanding these changes and their impacts on Ladakhis. My graduate coursework and research methods in Anthropology, South Asian and World History at the University of Arizona have given me the tools to make intelligible at least some aspects of the contemporary political and economic situations that have formed and influenced my life as well as the lives of Ladakhis in general.

Consequently, my theoretical interests today are the results of years of trying to make sense of this complex postcolonial situation. My methodological interests, likewise, are the result of my efforts to find ways to study these historical political-economic issues and their consequences. These experiences have led to my broader interest in the historical ways of conduct and governmentality, which include ways of conducting self and others/governmentalities from ancient times to the present day.

In my dissertation research, I am limiting myself to the historical political-economic ways of conducting others, subjects, citizens, and/or population and their effects from the late nineteenth century to the present in Ladakh. Within this historical period, I am theorizing the notion of conduct to include not only the historical construction/imagination/invention of certain subjects and their conduct by others and by themselves, but also how certain historical governmentalities or ways of conducting allow for the possibility of certain subjects, social relations, dispositions, affect, and experiences, which are impossible in other historical configurations of governmentalities.

Research Interests

Governmentality (Historical forms of Mechanisms of Power; Sovereignty; Discipline; Colonialism; Post-colonialism; Political Economy; Nation-State; Liberalism; Socialism; Neoliberalism); Anthropology/History of Subject; Bodies/Population; Conduct/Habitus; Emotions/Affect; Thoughts; Qualitative Methodologies; Genealogical Method; Poststructuralism; Anthropology/History of Religion;  Buddhist-Muslim Relations; Historiography; Colonial and Postcolonial South Asian History; Modern History of Ladakh; Buddhist Philosophy (Madhyamika, Nagarjuna, Emptiness, Dependent-arising, and Karma); History of Buddhism; and History of Islam.

Geographic Area of Interest

South Asia, India, Pakistan, J&K, Ladakh

Tentative Dissertation Title

The Emergence of Contemporary Buddhist-Muslim Relations: Historical Changes in Governmentalities and Conduct in Ladakh, J&K, India


Historical Ways of Conduct and Governmentality in South Asia