Susan Bayly is Professor of Historical Anthropology (Emerita) in the Cambridge University Department of Social Anthropology.
Her research focuses on colonialism and its cultural afterlife in Asia's former French and British colonies. She regularly conducts ethnographic research in Vietnam as part of a larger comparative project on empire and post-colonial transformations in a variety of periods and settings. She has completed a study of Hanoi intelligentsia families in the former socialist world system, and more recently a comparative project with Dr Nicholas Long of LSE on Achievement & Competitiveness in Vietnam & Indonesia, involving fieldwork on the ways achievement is enacted and understood in these two key sites of Southeast Asian transformation experiences. Her current concern is with familial and personal experiences of marketisation in today's Vietnam, a project building on fieldwork with Hanoi families from diverse urban backgrounds, exploring the skills and moral capital attained from work and training in sites where women particularly have learned to hold their own as traders and service-sector workers in the key labour-deficit Asian 'tiger' states. She is also researching the many forms of official and personal visual culture that form a key context for the understanding of citizenship and the modern family in today's Hanoi.
Professor Bayly retains a long-standing research interest in India, where she has focused on caste, religious conversion and a variety of translocal social and cultural movements. She is a former editor of The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and has theoretical interests in the study of modernity, globalisation, theories of historical change, and the disciplinary interface between history and anthropology. Her publications include Asian Voices in a Postcolonial Age. Vietnam, India and Beyond (Cambridge University Press: 2007). She has also published studies of the Indian caste system and of Indian religion in its historical and anthropological contexts.