Dr. Bharat Jayram Venkat is an assistant professor at UCLA’s Institute for Society & Genetics with a joint appointment in the Department of History. He is also affiliated with the UCLA Center for India & South Asia, the Program in Digital Humanities, and the Urban Humanities Initiative. His research focuses broadly on questions related to science & medicine, ethics, race, environment, and design.
His first book, At the Limits of Cure (Duke University Press, 2021), is the winner of the Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences. Through an anthropological history of tuberculosis treatment in India, this book asks about what it means to be cured, and what it means for a cure to come undone. This research was supported by the American Council for Learned Societies, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the American Institute for Indian Studies, and the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation.
Dr. Venkat’s current project, “A History of Heat in a Hot Place,” returns to methodological issues and intellectual themes raised in his first book to study the relationship between heat, bodies, and the built environment. Drawing on archival, ethnographic, and oral historical materials, as well as climatological and cartographic data, this research seeks to study the experience of thermal inequality in contemporary India and the United States. This project also traces the history of studying heat and its effects on the body in the long 20th century, through an examination of concepts like “sensation” and “comfort” as well by tracing the development and use of novel technologies such as thermal manikins and climate-controlled chambers. This research has been funded by the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship, the UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship in the Humanities, and various grants from UCLA.
In conjunction with this research, Dr. Venkat also directs the UCLA Heat Lab. Through the lab, he mentors a diverse group of students invested in researching thermal inequality and justice from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Students in the lab have worked on such issues as the racialized distribution of greenspace in Los Angeles; the exposure of migrant laborers to heat stress; the development of climate-focused curriculum for high schoolers; and the history of clothing design in colonial India.
Dr. Venkat’s work on science & medicine includes essays on ethical reasoning in the clinic, the history of evidentiary paradigms in antibiotic research, the idea of radical cure, extreme drug resistance in India, the history and possible future of the sanatorium, iatrogenesis and zoonotic disease, and the graphic imagination of triage in the face of antibiotic failure.
He has also written about anthropological approaches to urban design & heat waves.
Finally, he has published on the relationship between immigration law, sham marriage, and the study of cults.
Prior to joining UCLA’s Institute for Society and Genetics, Dr. Venkat taught in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oregon and held a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University’s Global Health Program.
You can find much of his work here.