Townsend Middleton is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He specializes in the political cultures of South Asia, where he engages a wide-range of contemporary and historical concerns. Middleton’s first book, The Demands of Recognition (Stanford University Press, 2015), explored anthropology’s impacts on the politics of autonomy and affirmative action in India. He is the co-founder of the Chokepoints Collective, a collaboration supported by the National Science Foundation, which examines sites of constriction (‘chokepoints’) around the world. He is the co-editor of Darjeeling Reconsidered (Oxford University Press-India, 2018), Fieldwork(ers) (a special issue of Ethnography, 2014), and Limn-Ten Chokepoints 2020. Beyond these books and volumes, his articles and essays cover a range of topics from the politics of anxiety, belonging, and assassinations to logistics, security, post/colonialism, and social theory. 

He is currently working on a new book, Quinine’s Remains, that examines the remarkable history—and afterlives—of the antimalarial quinine in India. Engaging themes of colonial science, plants, chemicals, empire, and postindustrialism, this project asks broadly: How did human history and life get made with things like quinine? And now, what happens after these game-changers run their course? This project is supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the American Institute of Indian Studies, UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities, and other sources.

In addition to his service in UNC’s Anthropology Department, Prof. Middleton is: 

  • Joint-Adjunct Faculty, UNC Curriculum for Global Studies
  • Faculty Fellow, UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies
  • Faculty Fellow, UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities
  • Member, UNC Modern Indian Studies Advisory Board