Vidya Venkat has worked in India for over a decade as a journalist in a reputed English newspaper and as a communications consultant in the international development sector. She started her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at SOAS in 2018. She was at SOAS earlier as a Felix scholar in 2011-12 to study for an M.A. in Social Anthropology of Development. In the past, she has held numerous prestigious fellowships and has covered stories of national and international significance for the Indian press, including attending the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals summit in New York in 2015 and the Paris climate summit, where world nations came together to sign the global agreement to address climate change.
Her primary research interests are political anthropology; anthropology of the state and bureaucracy; anthropology of development; anthropology of South Asia; and anthropology and climate change. In 2020, she organised a major international conference commemorating 70 years of the Indian Republic with the SOAS South Asia Institute that saw senior academics and early-career researchers congregate to discuss the journey of India as a constitutional republic and produce a critical assessment of the journey so far. Eleven papers were presented by early-career researchers and the event concluded with a discussion on the theme of where India is headed in its democratic journey.
Vidya is a member of the American Anthropological Association; the Socio-Legal Studies Association; the National Campaign for People's Right to Information, India; the Earth Journalism Network, Internews; and a Student Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
Her PhD research pertains to India's right to information movement. It is based on ethnographic and archival research conducted in Delhi and Rajasthan in 2019-20. My research is supported by the SOAS Research Studentship and the Fred Lightfoot Scholarship from the SOAS South Asia Institute.