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Prashanth Kuganathan

Postdoctoral Teaching Associate


My doctoral dissertation combines the ethnography of education with applied linguistics, examining the role the English language plays in postcolonial and postwar northern Sri Lanka. It also looks at people's lives in the Jaffna peninsula who have experienced firsthand the devastation of violence and displacement during the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009). I focus on the power dynamics of ethnoreligious and social relations in the country, particularly the caste system.


Ph.D. (2021) Applied Anthropology (Teachers College), Columbia University

M.Phil. (2019) Applied Anthropology (Teachers College), Columbia University

M.A. (2012) South Asian Studies, Columbia University

H.B.A. (2006) History and Political Science, University of Toronto

Professional Service

Courses Taught at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Fall 2021

ANTH 432 – Anthropology of Warfare, Violence, and Peace

ANTH 421 – Refugees and Displaced People

Spring 2022

ANTH 321 – Anthropology of South Asia

ANTH 410 – Principles of Cultural Anthropology


Hashmi, Zehra and Prashanth Kuganathan. 2017. “Caste in a Tamil Family: On Purity and Pollution in Post-war Jaffna.” Economic & Political Weekly 52(21): 15-18.

Kuganathan, Prashanth. 2018. “Madurika Rasaratnam Tamils and the Nation: India and Sri Lanka Compared” (book review). Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 17(3): 383-385.

Kuganathan, Prashanth. 2022. “Of Tigers and Temples: The Jaffna Caste System in Transition During the Sri Lankan Civil War” (forthcoming chapter). In Sociology of South Asia: Postcolonial Legacies, Global Imaginaries, edited by Smitha Radhakrishnan and Gowri Vijayakumar. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kuganathan, Prashanth. 2014. “Social Stratification in Jaffna: A Survey of Recent Research on Caste.” Sociology Compass 8(1): 78–88.

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