DEI Coordinator

Meet the DEI Coordinator for the Department of Sociology

Soma ChaudhuriProfessor Soma Chaudhuri (pronounced: Sho-ma Chow-dhu-ree) is DEI Coordinator and Associate Professor for the Department of Sociology. She is a qualitative sociologist whose research lies at the intersection of gender, development, social movements and violence. Professor Chaudhuri started her career studying the incidents of witch hunts among an Adivasi tea plantation community in India. She found that contrary to popular opinions, witchcraft accusations leading to witch hunts are not the “exotic primitive performances of a backward community,” but rather can be interpreted as a powerful protest organized by a marginalized and much oppressed community. Over the last one decade, Professor Chaudhuri conducted a study funded by National Science Foundation that analyzed the impact of participation in empowerment programs on women’s lives studied largely through the awareness and assertion of rights. Findings from the study point to complex patterns of lifelong interactions with bargaining and negotiations that women make that involves both, accommodations with patriarchy in some contexts and assertion of their rights and agency in others. Some of Professor Chaudhuri’s current work includes social movements around race and protest policing (with Jennifer Cobbina and others), the impact of pandemics on migrants (with Elizabeth Chacko, Bandana Purkayastha and others; funded by SSRC), and the publication of a witch studies reader (with Jane Ward).

Born in United Kingdom and raised in Kolkata India, Professor Chaudhuri completed her BA degree in Sociology from Presidency College (now Presidency University), and MA degree in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. She completed her MA and PhD degrees in Sociology from Vanderbilt University, Nashville. She joined Michigan State University in 2008, initially as a fixed term faculty member, before moving on to the tenure track in 2011 and earning tenure in 2017.