Dr Alice Tilche

Dr Alice Tilche

Visiting Fellow

Department of Anthropology

English, Italian
Key Expertise
art, indigeneity, agrarian change, nationalism, migration, India

About me

Alice Tilche’s research explores global issues of nationalism, migration and heritage through the lens of the margins. She has conducted extensive research in rural and indigenous areas of India, especially Gujarat, and among Indian communities in the UK. Alice is also a filmmaker with training and interest in visual methods and has used filming, photography and exhibition as research tools, processes and outcomes.

Alice has conducted three major research projects. Her first project was funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation and examined the making of indigenous art as a tool for political mobilisation. India has one of the largest indigenous populations in the world, and this research probed the potential of art to address historically rooted forms of inequality. As part of this study, Alice collaborated with indigenous artists and curators towards the development of the Adivasi Museum of Voice, an indigenous community museum in a village of Gujarat. Her current project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, examines the making of indigenous art in relation to the growth politicised religion, and in particular of Hindu nationalism. This research compares different projects of self-making, including museums, temples and the home. It provides an account of how indigenous groups have embraced the nationalist project of Hinduness and focuses on the key role of the aesthetics in sustaining such movement. Alice has published several peer reviewed articles and is currently finalising her book manuscript on Adivasi art and Hindu nationalism with the University of Washington Press. She is also producing and co-directing the film Broken Gods with award-winning, indigenous filmmaker Dakxin Bajranje. The film documents the growth of Hindu religious movements among indigenous communities of Gujarat, and shows how religious reform becomes linked to particular aesthetics – certain sets of paintings, object, colours and textures.


A second and interlinked strand of Alice’s work focuses on the relationship between agrarian change and transnational migration.  Between 2011 and 2015, Alice worked on the comparative and longitudinal study of life in India’s villages, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. She has published several co-authored and single authored pieces on this project that explore how the village is intertwined in symbolic and material terms with transnational forms of migration. She also showcased her research at a public exhibition on The Future of the Rural World http://www.soas.ac.uk/gallery/the-future-of-the-rural-world/ and produced the documentary film Sundarana. Her future research will continue exploring themes of nationalism, heritage and agrarian change with a focus on migration from South Asia to rural Europe.

Expertise Details

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

Selected publications


Simpson, E. & Tilche, A. 2015. The future of the rural world? India’s villages 1950-2015. SOAS: University of London

Journal Articles

Tilche, A. & Simpson, E. 2018. Marriage and the crisis of peasant society in Gujarat, India. Journal of Peasant Studies, 45(7): 1518-1538

Tilche, A. & Simpson, E. 2018. On trusting ethnography: methods, self, and the agency of fields of Gujarat, India. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 23(4): 690 78

Simpson, E, Tilche, A. Jeffery, P. Sbriccoli, T., Otten, T. 2017. A brief history of incivility in rural India, 1950-2015. Caste, religion and anthropology. Comparative Studies in Society and History. 60 (1): 58-59

Tilche, A. 2016 Migration, bachelorhood 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

Book Chapters

Tilche, A. (forthcoming). Migration, bachelorhood and discontent among the Patidars. In India’s villages in the 21st century. S. Jhodka and E. Simpson (eds).

Tilche, A. (forthcoming). Art and religious reform among the Rathavas of western India. Brill’s encyclopaedia of the religions among the indigenous people of South Asia. Carrin, M. & H. Tambs-Lyche (eds).

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

Book Reviews

Tilche, A. (forthcoming). Review Article. Another India: explorations and expressions of Indigenous South Asia (M. Elliot). Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute  

Tilche, A. 2011 Review Article. Sacrificing people. An invasion of a tribal landscape. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 2, 17

Tilche, A. 2009 Review Article. Hindu nationalism: a reader (C. Jaffrelot) Contemporary South Asia. 17, 3

Documentary Films

 Bajranje, D. & Tilche, A. (forthcoming). Broken Gods. Nomad Movies Production. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the LSE.

Bajranje, D. & Tilche, A. 2013. Film. Sundarana. Marriage and migration among the Patidars. Nomad Movies Production. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, UK. India (43 min).