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Dr L.J. (Luisa) Steur

Assistant Professor
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Programme group: Moving Matters: People, Goods, Power and Ideas

Visiting address
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
  • Room number: B5.07
Postal address
  • Postbus 15509
    1001 NA Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Profile

    dr. Luisa Steur is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Managing and Lead Editor of Focaal-Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, and member of the Works Council of the FMG.

    Steur’s research focuses on the dialogues and tensions between Communist politics and the agency and experience of historically oppressed people, seen in the context of global capitalist restructuring and its impact on working people’s lives. She has done extensive fieldwork in Kerala (India) on the resurgence of Dalit and adivasi activism, demonstrating that this activism, which confronts continuing caste inequality and violence, emerged when it did because of the intensification of capitalist processes of exclusion and dispossession. Steur’s published on this amongst others in her monograph Indigenist mobilization: Confronting electoral Communism and precarious livelihoods in post-reform Kerala (Berghahn 2017). She has also embarked on a comparative project that looks at the changing relationship between Afro-Cubans, particularly blacks, and the Communist Party in Cuba with the restructuring that was necessary to confront the economic crisis Cuba faced with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    In both Kerala and Cuba, the focus of her fieldwork was on the working lives of manual laborers: agricultural laborers in Kerala and sanitation workers in Havana. This focus aligns with her broader interest in the anthropology of labor , anthropological political-economy and related fields of thought that try to critically capture the ways in which ever-changing capitalist dynamics structure the ways in which people experience, accommodate to and resist the relations of power that they become part in order to make a living.

  • Books

    In Kerala, political activists with a background in Communism are now instead asserting political demands on the basis of indigenous identity. Why did a notion of indigenous belonging come to replace the discourse of class in subaltern struggles? Indigenist Mobilization answers this question through a detailed ethnographic study of the dynamics between the Communist party and indigenist activists, and the subtle ways in which global capitalist restructuring leads to a resonance of indigenist visions in the changing everyday working lives of subaltern groups in Kerala.

  • CV


    Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen (01/2012 - 03/2016). Teaching and research -- including one semester (Fall-Winter 2014) sabbatical, spent in Centro Havana, affiliated to the Juan Marinello Institute for Cultural Research.

    Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, School of Oriental and African Studies, London (01/2011 – 12/2011). →ESRC-funded research project “Caste out of development: Civil society activism and transnational advocacy on Dalit rights and development”. ESRC impact evaluation (October 2014): highest rank of “outstanding research”.



    PhD - Sociology and Social Anthropology (Magna Cum Laude), Central European University Budapest. (10/2004 –12/ 2011). Dissertation: “Indigenist mobilization: ’Identity’ versus ‘class’ after the Kerala model of development?” Examiners: Judit Bodnar (internal), Prem Rajaram (internal), Jan Breman (external: University of Amsterdam).

    MSc - Development Studies, (Distinction), School of Oriental and African Studies, London (2002-2003).                                                                            

    BA - Social Science major (Cum Laude), University College Utrecht (1999-2002; including semester at University of Cape Town).                  



  • PhD students/MA students/Teaching

    PhD students whose project I have supervised/am supervising:


    Arati Kade (UvA)

    Raviv Litman (UvA)

    Khidir Prawirosusanto (UvA)

    Nidhish Sundar (UvA)

    MA students I’ve supervised:

    Chantal Vissers - Dutch Interns in the Curaçaoan Hospitality Business: Between Diversity and Racialization, the Case of Hipster Restaurant “Bario” (UvA, 2022)

    Annamaria Laudini – Empowered by migration? Rethinking agency and gender roles among Indian women in Lazio, Italy. (UvA, 2021)

    Linda Lemmen – FARCian family: Liminality and social relations while transforming from a guerrilla group into a political party (UvA, 2019).

    Judith van den Velde – Resignation in a revolutionary town: Subalternity in the working-class community of the agricultural and ‘anti-capitalist’ village of Marinaleda (Southern Spain) (UvA, 2019)

    Claire Sterngold - Artisanal Exploitation: Craft tequila and the reproduction of class in rural Mexico. (UvA, 2017).

    Shahernaz Kargan - Rethinking the riots: Counter-narratives by Brixton’s black youth in the aftermath of 2011 London riots. (UvA, 2016).

    Tilde Siglev - "For the health of the neighborhood": Urban Transformation, Local Resistance, and Politics of Development in the Lower Ninth Ward of post-Katrina New Orleans. (University of Copenhagen, 2016)

    Marie Emilie Sørensen - Living with the crisis as if it was not there: An anthropological inquiry into young people's engagement with the Greek economic crisis. (University of Copenhagen, 2015)

    Sharan Kaur - between self-sufficiency and survival: Organic farming enterprises, volunteer labour, and the dilemmas of commodification in rural Portugal. (University of Copenhagen, 2015)

    Line Bjerregaard - "You have to know how to make the money grow": An anthropological study of the "class race" amongst peri-urban farmers in India. (University of Copenhagen, 2014)


    Selection of the courses I teach/have taught:

    -Political Anthropology: Capitalistm, Class and Contestation (UvA)

    -The Anthropology of Latin America and the Caribbean (UvA)

    -Inleiding in the Sociologie der Niet-Westerse samenlevingen (UvA)

    -India Lecture Series (IIS, UvA)

    -Anthropological Analysis (University of Copenhagen)

    -Political Movements (University of Copenhagen)


  • Publications


    • Steur, L. J. (Accepted/In press). Class analysis across the "capitalist/communist' divide: Practicing the anthropology of labor in Kerala and Cuba. In S. Kasmir, & L. Gill (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Anthropology of Labor (pp. 107-118). Routledge.


    • Neveling, P., & Steur, L. (2018). Introduction: Marxian Anthropology Resurgent. Focaal, 2018(82), 1-15. [details]
    • Steur, L. (2018). Contradictions of the 'Common Man': A Realist Approach to India’s Aam Aadmi Party. In D. Kalb, & M. Mollona (Eds.), Worldwide Mobilizations: Class Struggles and Urban Commoning (pp. 187-207). (Dislocations; Vol. 24). Berghahn. [details]
    • Steur, L. J., & Neveling, P. (2018). Marxian anthropology resurgent. Focaal, 82, 1-15.


    • Steur, L. (2017). Indigenist Mobilization: Confronting Electoral Communism and Precarious Livelihoods in Post-Reform Kerala. Berghahn Books. [details]


    • Steur, L. (2016). The Emergence of Adivasi Political Subjectivity in Late Socialist Kerala. In U. Chandra, & D. Taghioff (Eds.), Staking Claims: The politics of social movements in contemporary rural India (pp. 200-224). Oxford University Press. [details]


    • Steur, L. J. (2015). Class trajectories and indigenism among agricultural workers in Kerala. In D. Kalb, & J. Carrier (Eds.), Anthropologies of class: Power, practice and inequality (pp. 118-130)
    • Steur, L. J. (2015). Land's End: A conjunctural approach to capitalist relations, indigeneity, and the making of surplus populations. The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, 33(2).


    • Steur, L. J. (2014). An “expanded” class perspective: Bringing capitalism down to earth in the changing political lives of Adivasi workers in Kerala. Modern Asian Studies, 48(5), 1334-1357.




    • Steur, L. J. (2010). Adivasi workers’ struggles and the Kerala model: Interpreting the past, confronting the present. In R. Raman (Ed.), Development, democracy and the state: Critiquing the Kerala Model of development (pp. 221-236). Routledge.
    • Steur, L. J. (2010). Adivaszik”, kommunistak es az oslakos-tudat kialakulasa Keralaban: Adivasis, Communists, and the Rise of Indigenism in Kerala. Eszmélet, 87, 115-134.


    • Steur, L. J. (2009). Adivasi mobilization: ‘Identity’ versus ‘class’ after the Kerala model of development?”. Journal of South Asian Development, 4(1), 25-44.
    • Steur, L. J. (2009). What’s left? Land expropriation, socialist “modernizers”, and peasant resistance in Asia. Focaal, 54, 67-73.


    Media appearance

    Journal editor

    • Steur, L. J. (editor) (2006-2021). Focaal (Journal).

    Talk / presentation

    • Steur, L. J. (invited speaker) (17-11-2017). Racism vs "lack of respect": Black consciousness and sanitation workers' sense of (in)justice in post-reform Cuba, London School of Economics Friday Seminar, Department of Anthropology.
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    • No ancillary activities