Jean-Thomas MARTELLI

Jean-Thomas Martelli is currently a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS). His research focus is political representation: populist claims, entering politics, the fashioning of dissent, party-led political consultancy, and generational student politics in saffron India, 2022-2023. He is also a visiting Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, 2022-2023. He was a head Researcher in the Politics and Society division at the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH) in New Delhi, 2018-2022. He was previously postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for International Studies and Research (CERI) at Sciences Po Paris, France. His scholarship in political science and political sociology focuses predominantly on generational politics in the Indian context. The ethnographic work he conducts concentrates on contemporary student politics, left activism, youth political careers and processes of politicisation in Indian campuses. At Sciences Po Paris he taught courses on Indian Democracy, Social Movements in South Asia and Political Science. While his work leans towards political ethnography, he also specialises in survey analysis and digital humanities, which led him to create the PaRChA (Pamphlet Repository for Changing Activism), an online platform of more than 70,000 original pamphlets and activist material produced by student organisations in New Delhi. He compiles textual databases of various kinds, ranging from public speeches of Indian Prime Ministers to tweets of Indian politicians. He received a PhD from King’s College London; the thesis is titled “‘JNU is not Just Where you go, it’s What you Become’: Everyday Political Socialisation and Left Activism at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi”.


  • “Populist Careers as Autonomy-making: A Longitudinal Ethnography of Political Entry in North India,” Polity, The University of Chicago Press, Issue 00: 1-31, forthcoming, DOI: TBA.
  • “Do Populist Leaders Mimic the Language of Ordinary Citizens? Evidence from India,” Political Psychology, 1-20, 2023, DOI: 10.1111/pops.12881 (with Christophe Jaffrelot).
  • “Populism à la Carte: The paradoxical political communication of Narendra Modi on Twitter,” Global Policy, 1-13, 2023, DOI: 10.1111/1758-5899.13173 (with Vihang Jumle).
  • “Chat-Hi: Exploring Indian National Identity Through Machine-Generated Text,” Leonardo, MIT Press 55, Issue 1: 1-20 (with Salil Parekh), 2022, DOI: 10.1162/leon_a_02141.
  • “The Politics of our Selves: Left Self-fashioning and the Production of Representative Claims in Everyday Indian Campus Politics,” Modern Asian Studies, Cambridge University Press (CUP) 55, Issue 6: 1972-2045, 2021, DOI: 10.1017/S0026749X2000013X.

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