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Ishani Saraf


  • PhD Candidate in Anthropology (Socio-cultural), Designated Emphasis in Science and Technology Studies
  • Dissertation title: "Scrap-scape": Waste, Trade, and Urban Ecologies in Contemporary Delhi
  • M.A. and M.Phil in Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India
  • B.A.(Hons.) Sociology, Miranda House, University of Delhi, India

Research Focus

My project examines the trade in metal scrap in the present context of urban reform in Delhi that urgently seeks to remove 'wastes' and 'pollution' from its landscape. Research conducted over eighteen months includes discursive and archival research on waste management and metal scrap, fieldwork in one of India's largest metal parts and scrap market located in Delhi, and following transnational scrap trade manifested in the urban landscape as the site of the 'dry port'. I focus on what I call the 'scrap-scape' - an emergent, discontinuous urban ecology arising out of people's transactions and activities with and transformations of metal scrap materials and objects.


"We Too Have Blackened Our Hands": Work, Harm, and Legitimacy in a Delhi Scrap Market Anthropology of Work Review Vol XLI, Number 2, 2020


"The Littoral, the Container, and the Interface: Situating the Dry Port as an Indian Ocean Imaginary" in S. Srinivas, B Ng'weno, & N. Jeychandran (Eds.) Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds. Routledge 2020


"Agreement" Theorizing the Contemporary, Fieldsights, September 30, 2019


Anomalous Waste... AES Engagement blog post.



2019           Finalist for Rappaport Student Prize, Anthropology and Environment Society

2017, 2018 Dissertation Writing Grant, Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds Mellon Research Initiative, UC Davis

2015-16      Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, Wenner-Gren Foundation