Ipsita Dey

Anthropology Graduate Student

Degrees prior to starting this degree program:

BS, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, University of California Los Angeles

Areas of Interest:

Environmental Anthropology/Humanities, Pacific Island Studies, South Asian Diaspora Studies, Indigenous Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, Science and Technology Studies

Field Research Plans/History (250 words max)

I am an anthropologist whose work is at the intersection of Pacific Island Studies, Indigeneity Studies, South Asian Diaspora Studies, Environmental Studies, and ethnographic ethics. My interdisciplinary research explores how Indo-Fijians articulate connections to land and country through agricultural practice, claiming a complex mode of diasporic nativity in response to resurgent Fijian indigenous ethno-nationalist politics.

My dissertation, tentatively titled Home on the Fijian Farmscape: Narrating Attachments to Land and Place Through Agriculture, explores how Indo-Fijians operationalize narratives of plantation labor and contemporary farmwork to produce a non-settler local identity that reconfigures relations between diaspora, indigeneity, and nationalism. Through multiple government coups and violent anti-Indian rhetoric, indigenous politics in Fiji has repeatedly attempted to render Indo-Fijians, whose ancestors arrived en masse to Fiji as indentured laborers to work on sugarcane plantations, alien to lands they consider home. Drawing from my ethnographic research among farmers in the Sigatoka Valley, I demonstrate how Indo-Fijians imagine farm practices as simultaneous projects in nation-building, heritage/traditional knowledge preservation, and environmental protection. Thus, Indo-Fijian farmers simultaneously mirror and challenge ethnonationalist interpretations of indigeneity to produce a local identity that protests the exclusivity of belonging in Fiji today. I offer an important perspective in the study of diasporic imaginaries and homing desires as the descendant of Indian laborers myself, with personal connections that allow a nuanced understanding of localization and racial identity construction.

(Selected) Publications and Multi-Media Projects:

Dey, Ipsita. Fitz-Randolph Award for Most Liked Video, Princeton University Research Day. 2023.

Dey, Ipsita. “Vaccine Distribution through Black Church Networks: A Conversation with Dr. Kia Moore” in Visualizing the Virus Online Collection. 2022.

Evans, Cory J, John M Olson…Ipsita Dey…., et al. “A Functional Genomics Screen Identifying Blood Cell Development Genes in Drosophila by Undergraduates Participating in a Course-Based Research Experience.” G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics. 2021.

Murphy, Fiona, Taylor R. Genovese, Vivian Gornik, Jeffrey Omari, Steven G. Harris, Rebecca Prinster, Ipsita Dey, and Monesha Carter. “Anthropology Matters! in Brief” in Anthropology News, December 15. 2017.

(Selected) Activities:

Dissertation Fellow, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University

Princeton Energy and Climate Fellow, High Meadows Environmental Institute, Princeton University

Graduate Research Fellow, Center for Culture, Society, and Religion, Princeton University

Peer Mentor, Grad Scholars Program, Access, Diversity, and Inclusion, Princeton Graduate School

Script Writer and Video Producer, Media Team, Center for Cultural, Society, and Religion, Princeton University

Game Designer and Researcher for Investing in Futures: The Card Game, Environmental Media Lab, High Meadows Environmental Institute, Princeton University

Researcher and Content Developer, Visual Ethnography Lab, Department of Anthropology