Dr Nicholas Evans

Dr Nicholas Evans

LSE fellow

Department of Anthropology

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About me

Nicholas Evans trained in anthropology at Cambridge before moving to the LSE as a fellow in 2017. He is a specialist in the anthropology of India, with interests in the anthropology of religion, the anthropology of visual media, and the historically embedded ways that people experience doubt and uncertainty.

Nicholas’ first major project was an ethnographic study of the Indian town of Qadian, the birthplace of one of modern South Asia’s most controversial Muslim revivals, the Ahmadiyya community. Ahmadi Muslims are followers of a nineteenth century a prophet and messiah, and for this reason face persecution in a number of Muslim countries, including Pakistan, where they are officially declared non-Muslim. Nicholas’ work has explored how Ahmadis attempt to prove their disputed Muslim identity in the face of ostracism from a wider Muslim public. He has written about the ways that Ahmadis use mass media to relate to their global leader who lives in exile in London, and his work has considered the ethical and theoretical challenges that anthropologists must face when writing about politically vulnerable minority groups. Nicholas is currently preparing a monograph about the Ahmadiyya community in India (provisional title Far from the Caliph’s Gaze: Being Ahmadi Muslim in the Holy City of Qadian), which explores the ways in which members of this insecure Muslim community experience religious doubt.

Since 2014, Nicholas has also carried out archival work in India and the UK as a member of the ERC-funded project Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic. He is interested in the question of how we might write an anthropological history of uncertainty, and to this end he has explored the complex forms of knowing and not-knowing that were produced during a period of epidemic disease in colonial India. He has written about the ways in which a history of zoonotic disease might help us understand contested ideas about the human, and he has examined what colonial medical cartography (disease mapping) might tell us about the relationship between uncertainty and desire. Nicholas’ current project seeks to reconceptualise the place of Commissions of Inquiry in the history of South Asia, and to ask what these rituals of truth-making might reveal about the hidden histories of doubt that inform public debate.


South Asia; India; Islam; leadership and hierarchy; ethics; doubt and uncertainty; anthropologies of epidemics and contagion; zoonosis; historical anthropology

Selected publications


forthcoming. Blaming the rat? Accounting for plague in colonial Indian medicine. Medicine, Anthropology, Theory.

forthcoming. Introduction: the challenge of the epidemic corpse (with Christos Lynteris). In Histories of post-mortem contagion: infectious corpses and contested burials.

2017. Beyond cultural intimacy: the tensions that make truth for India’s Ahmadi Muslims. American Ethnologist 44(3): 490-502.

2016. Witnessing a potent truth: rethinking responsibility in the anthropology of theisms. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 22(2): 356-372.

2016. Fragments of plague (with Lukas Engelmann & Branwyn Poleykett). Limn 6.

2015. Ethics across borders: incommensurability and affinity (with Jonathan Mair). HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5(2): 201-225.

Edited Collections

forthcoming. Histories of post-mortem contagion: infectious corpses and contested burials (with Christos Lynteris). Edited volume.

2015. Ethics across borders: questioning incommensurability and affinity (with Jonathan Mair). HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5(2). Special section.