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William Stafford

Postdoctoral fellow

William F. Stafford, Jr. completed his PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley with a dissertation on the autorickshaw meter in Delhi, India as an exemplary formatting device for “public” transactions and material anchor of a variable ethos of commercial sociality. His current project takes up the autorickshaw meter-mounted panic button to explore architectures of “sequester” as a spatialising genre of governance and sociality and the development of a “forensic” public through the affordances of digital information and communications technologies in India. Working with imagistic, sculptural, and dramatic renderings of epic artefacts of security (such as the Lakshman Rekha) and their arrangement of relations of proximity, threshold, and mobility, the project works through political theologies and aesthetics of the individuation, identification, and fungibility of city residents in the “democratisation” of a gendered moral economy of location through the platformisation of bodily security. Theoretically, this project engages the role of abstraction in the ethnographic figuration of complexly distributed interfacial objects, anonymity as a form of commensurating inclusion, and the figure of 'line' and its qualification as an infrastructure of figure, form, separation, distribution, containment, trajectory, and force.

PhD, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
MPhil (Part I), Sociology, Delhi School of Economics
MA, Sociology, Jawaharlal Nehru University
BA, Philosophy, University of Delaware

“Against Enclosure,” Exertions, Society for the Anthropology of Work book forum on Mythri Jegathesan, Tea and Solidarity: Tamil Women and Work on Postwar Sri Lanka, September 10, 2021. 

“Enclosure,” Topology as Method, for Fieldsights (Theorising the Contemporary)Society for Cultural AnthropologySeptember 30, 2019. 


“Introduction: Topology as Method,” (with Stephane Gros, CNRS and Kamala Russell, UCLA) Topology as Method, for Fieldsights (Theorising the Contemporary)Society for Cultural AnthropologySeptember 30, 2019. 


“The Promise of Purity” in Demonetization: Critical Responses to India’s Cash(/less) Experiment, for Fieldsights (Hot Spots)Society for Cultural AnthropologySeptember 27, 2017