R. Thomas Rosin

Professor Emeritus

Academic Interests

I am presently weaving a narrative that entangles research and romance with a motorcycling adventure. A years’ study across the sweep of Rajasthan provides rich documentation for a tale about anthropological research as lived, involving a province transformed, a project challenged, and lives altered. I am working as well on a number of literary pieces on persons known over the four decades of my returns to India, two of which are slated for a book on death and dying.


The small liberal arts college has been my preferred venue, for my own education, and teaching, with an emphasis on the seminar and mentoring through student research in practical applications of anthropology.  My field research, spanning more than 40 years, began and continues in the western desert and savannah of Rajasthan, India, involving both intensive study of a single village community and regional studies of variation in adaptation, social organization, and polity.  Awards from Fulbright, Smithsonian Institute, and the American Institute of Indian Studies have supported research and publications on land reform, peasant adaptation, computation, family structure and incremental architecture, traffic and trash.  Photographer Gail Wread and I have prepared three exhibits, combining visual imagery with commentary, viewed at the University of Chicago, Dartmouth College Libraries, University of Wisconsin, University of California at Berkeley, SSU, and Carleton College. Work with film makers Peter Biella and Allison Jablonko has resulted in a DVD of two films available through Documentary Educational Resources.

Selected Publications & Presentations

Thinking Through Livelihood; How a Peasantry of Princely Rājpuṭāna Became Educated and Activist Citizens of Rajasthan. IN Impact of Education in South Asia: Perspectives from Sri Lanka to Nepal, edited by Helen E. Ullrich, pp. 219-244. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

“Dining Across the Decades in Rajasthan, India: A culminating feast on a high of religious holidays,” Anthropology and Humanism: Vol. 43(2): 211-227 (December), 2018.

Three entries, “Family Type and Cycle,” “Adaptations (Rajasthan & Gujarat, India,” “Rural Rajasthan,” in the Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, EDITED BY MARCEL VELLINGA, Second Edition.  Bloombury, 2018 (Drawing and photograph by Gail Wread).

Back and There Again: Structuring a Career through Long-Term Research in Rajasthan, India. In The Tao of Anthropology, edited by Jack Alec Kelso, pp. 45-61. (Gainesville: University Press of Florida.) 2008.

Vishnu and the Art of Motorcycle Riding: Toward an anthropology of street traffic. In Behind Many Masks: Gerald Berreman and Berkeley Anthropology, 1959-2001, edited by Katherine MacKinnon and Kevin Bartoy. Pp. 55-74. Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers, 2003.

From Garden Suburb to Olde City Ward; A Longitudinal Study of Social Process and Incremental Architecture in Jaipur, India, The Journal of Material Culture Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 165-192. 2001.

Wind, Traffic and Dust: The Recycling of Wastes, Contributions to Indian Sociology (n. s.) Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 361-408. 2000.

Locality and Frontier: Securing Livelihood in the Aravalli Zone of Central Rajasthan. The Idea of Rajasthan; Explorations in Regional Identity,  edited by Schomer, K., Rudolph, L., Erdman, J., and Lodrick, D. , Vol. II, pp. 30-64. (New Delhi: Manohar and American Institute of Indian Studies.) 1993.

The Tradition of Groundwater Irrigation in Northwestern India.  Human Ecology  21(1):51-86. 1993.

Land Reform and Agrarian Change; Study of a Marwar Village from Raj to Swaraj. Pp. 270. (Jaipur: Rawat Press.) 1987.

Quarry and Field: Sources of Continuity and Change in a Rajasthani Village.  Dimensions of Social Life: Essays in Honor of David Mandelbaum,  edited by Paul Hockings, pp. 419-438.  (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyther.) 1987.

Gold Medallions: The Arithmetic Calculations of an Illiterate.  Anthropology & Education Quarterly  Anniversary Issue 15 (1): 38-50.  Spring 1984.

Peasant Adaptation as Process in Land Reform: A Case Study. American Studies in the Anthropology of India,edited by Sylvia Vatuk,  pp. 460-495. (New Delhi:  Manohar & American Institute of Indian Studies.) 1978.


“Undala” and “Undala Conversations” may be view at Documentary Educational Resources websites at: