Dr Alice Tilche

Dr Alice Tilche

Leverhulme early career fellow

Department of Anthropology

+44 (0)20 7955 7435
Room No
KGS 1.06

About me

My research combines an interest in the fields of art, material culture, development studies, agrarian change and the politics and cultures of indigeneity. I am a regional specialist of South Asia with long-term fieldwork experience in two rural areas of western India: among a relatively poor and socially subordinated Adivasi (indigenous, tribal) community and a relatively wealthy and landed (Patidar) community.  

My work has been broadly concerned with understanding the nexus between culture and development and the dual and contradictory processes that simultaneously generate growth and growing inequality. In the context of rapid urbanisation, de-peasantisation and corporate expansion: what is the place of rural and indigenous societies in our imagination of the world and the future? How do such societies address and redress a condition of social and economic disadvantage? What are their experiences, priorities and values as they make sense of their present position, past heritage and the future? 

A strand of my research (funded by the Wenner-Gren foundation and the Leverhulme Trust) focuses on the production and circulation of indigenous art in India, in relation to a politics of recognition and rebellion, to processes of livelihood diversification and as a source for utopia and inspiration. This work draws on my long-term collaboration with an indigenous museum and resource centre in a rural and tribal area of India; with indigenous social movements; and with some of India’s major cultural institutions.

A second and interlinked strand of my work focuses on rural and agrarian change in the subcontinent. Between 2011 and 2015, I worked on a large collaborative, comparative and longitudinal study of life in India’s villages, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. I am currently working on a series of publications that explore how the village is intertwined in symbolic and material terms with transnational forms of migration. 

I have a training and interest in visual methods and I have used filming, photography and exhibition as research tools, processes and outcomes. I co-directed the film Sundarana with Indian filmmaker Dakxin Bajranje and showcased my work in an exhibition at the Brunei Gallery on The Future of the Rural World?. I am currently working on a second film and exhibition project provisionally titled Cultivating art


India; art; indigeneity; development; agrarian change; migration; social inequality

Selected publications


Simpson, Edward and Tilche, Alice (eds.) 2016. The future of the rural world? India’s villages 1950-2015. SOAS: University of London. ISBN:9781526203502

Journal Articles

Simpson, Edward and Tilche, Alice and Sbriccoli, Tommaso and Jeffery, Patricia and Otten, Tina (2017) 'A Brief History of Incivility in Rural Postcolonial India: Caste, Religion, and Anthropology.' Comparative Studies in Society and History, 60 (1). (Forthcoming)

Tilche, Alice and Simpson, Edward (2017) 'On trusting ethnography: Serendipity and the reflexive return to the fields of Gujarat.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 23: 690–708.

Tilche, Alice. 2016. Bachelorhood, migration and discontent among the Patidars. Economic and Political Weekly, 51(26-27): 17-24.

Tilche, A. 2015. A forgotten Adivasi landscape: memory and museums in western India. Contributions to Indian Sociology. 49 (2): 188-215.  

Tilche, A. 2014. Pithora in the time of kings, elephants and art dealers: art and social change in western India. Visual Anthropology. 20(1): 1-20.

Tilche, A. 2009 Tanslating museums’ in G.N. Devy, Geoffrey V. Davis, K.K. Chakravarty (eds) Indigeneity: Culture and Representation. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.


Bajranje, Dakxin and Tilche, Alice. 2013. Film. Sundarana. Marriage and migration among the Patidars. Nomad Movies. India (43 min).

Book Reviews

Tilche, A. 2012. Review Article. Exclusion and inclusion in local governance: field studies from rural India. B.S. Baviskar & George Mathew (eds). Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 18(3): 717-718.

Tilche, A. 2011 Review Article. Sacrificing people. An invasion of a tribal landscape. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 2 (17): 415-416.

Tilche, A. 2009. Review Article Hindu Nationalism: A Reader (C. Jaffrelot) Contemporary South Asia. 17(3): 333-334.