Amishi Panwar (Anthropologist & Sociologist With a Love For Fashion)

Dr Amishi Panwar

Senior Research Associate, University of Bristol, UK

I will start with apprising the reader of my background. Though from the Hindi speaking north, I was born in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and spent the initial nineteen years of my life there by virtue of a parent’s profession with the Government of India. After high school, I decided to study Sociology at the University of Madras, driven by a curiosity to understand society, culture, and community as concepts. I subsequently completed a Masters (2012) and an MPhil (2013) in Sociology at the University of Delhi. In 2020, I was awarded a PhD in Anthropology and Sociology of Development from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), Geneva. The academic environment in my doctoral programme further nuanced my understanding of critical medical anthropology, science and technology studies.

My doctoral specialisation is in medical anthropology and my dissertation, ‘Banking on cord Blood: Decoding amulets and canisters in south India’ focuses on the ethnography of public and private stem cell banks in India and presents the many meanings of ‘banking on’ cord blood in south India. In India, the cord blood units stored in public and private banks are deeply mired in conflicting scientific opinions about their usage, with guidelines (not laws) governing their circulation and rigorous marketing strategies, which span a billion-dollar industry.

On the teaching front, I have held an appointment as Guest Faculty at the postgraduate department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics (University of Delhi; 2020-22). In this role, I tutored graduate students for­ the modules Sociology of Development, Gender & Society, Population & Society, Sociological Theories: Some Conceptual Issues, Economic Sociology, Political Sociology, and Social Stratification. Beside these, I co-taught Academic Reading and Writing, Research Methods in Sociology, and Medical Sociology.

Presently, I am Senior Research Associate at the department of Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School. In this capacity, I am part of the ResPharm team that is exploring the rise of antimicrobial resistance due to pharmaceutical waste in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh (India). By tracing the prescription as a document of access to antibiotic medication (direct exposure), the social science component of the project aims to delineate the use/misuse/overuse of antibiotics while considering individual relief, medical governance, pharmaceutical industrial production, and public health. Furthermore, by tracing pharmaceutical waste and effluent water (indirect exposure), we further aim to establish crucial linkages between the human, environment, waste, animal, and microbial ‘healthscapes’ in Baddi.

Apart from research and teaching, I enjoy travelling, like dancing, and have a love for fashion and cats!