Social Science Baha

Weekly Reading Seminar Series: Moderator

Prista Ratanapruck is a cultural anthropologist with a background in economics, and an interest in social and cultural history. She has taught in the Anthropology Department at Harvard University, at the University of Virginia, at Chiangmai University, Thailand, and in the History Department at Rutgers University. Her research examines the relationships between economy and society—the various ways in which humans organise social institutions to meet their material, social, and spiritual needs, both individually and collectively. She is currently working on a book manuscript that examines the trans-regional connections between the South Asia subcontinent, the Himalaya, and Southeast Asia through the phenomenon of a trade diaspora. She sees trade diasporas as cross-cultural exchanges that serve as historical counterpoints to the study of twentieth-century ‘globalisation’. Her ethnography, which outlines the continuity and success of a diaspora community, complicates the established historiography of trans-regional trade and commerce in Asia—in which Asian merchants are perceived to have been eclipsed by the expansion of East India Companies—as well as the common narrative of the rise of the West.