About the Author

Susan Seizer

Associate Professor
Anthropology Department
Indiana University

Faculty member at Indiana University 2006-present

sseizer AT indiana DOT edu

Student Building 130
701 E. Kirkwood Ave
Bloomington, IN 47405-9700

office phone: (812) 856-1986
office fax:      (812) 855-4358

View Susan Seizer’s complete CV

Academic History

  • Faculty member at Scripps College 1998-2006
  • M.A, Ph.D. University of Chicago 1997
  • B.A. Barnard College, Columbia University. Summa Cum Laude, 1981

Research and Teaching Interests

  • Sociocultural Anthropology
  • South Asian Studies
  • Disability Studies
  • Ethnographic Writing
  • Humor in Use
  • Performance Studies
  • Gender, Feminist & Queer Studies
  • Stigma in Social Theory

Course syllabi



Stigmas of the Tamil Stage: An Ethnography of Special Drama Artists in South India.
Duke University Press, 2005.


Road Comics: Big Work on Small Stages. Ethnographic documentary, 53 min; 2012. Streaming at roadcomicsmovie.com

The Buffoon-Dance Duet. 1997. Ethnographic short, 11 min (in Tamil). Available HERE.

Journal Articles

“Dialogic catharsis in standup comedy: Stewart Huff plays a bigot.” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research. Vol.30.2 Summer 2017.

“Heredity Abandoned, and Kannagi’s Courageous Decision to act in Special Drama.” Special Issue on “Women in Indian Theatre,” ed. A. Madhavan. In Samyukta: A Journal of Gender & Culture Vol. XVI, No.2, pp. 178-205

“On the Uses of Obscenity in Live Stand-Up Comedy.” Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 1, p. 209–234, Winter 2011

“Roadwork: Offstage with Special Drama Actresses in Tamilnadu, South India.” Cultural Anthropology, V15N2:217-259, May 2000.

“Jokes, Gender, and Discursive Distance on the Tamil Popular Stage.” American Ethnologist, V24N1:62-90, Feb 1997.

“Playing the Field.” Review essay, Taboo: sex, identity and erotic subjectivity in anthropological fieldwork, D. Kulick and M. Wilson, eds. In Transition: An International Review. Issue 71, V6N3:100-113, Fall 1996.

“Paradoxes of Visibility in the Field: Rites of Queer Passage in Anthropology.” Public Culture, V8N1:73-100, Fall 1995.

Articles in edited volumes

“Laughing at Domestic Violence: On Viewing Gender Roles and other Comedic Complexities on the Tamil Popular Stage.” Ch. 7, Gender, Space, and Resistance: Women and Theatre in India. Ed. Anita Singh & Tarun Tapas Mukherjee. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld LTD, pp. 123-180.

“Legacies of Discourse: Special Drama and its History,” in Play-House of Power: Gender and Theatre in Colonial and Postcolonial India. Ed. Lata Singh. Delhi: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2009.

“Gender Plays: Social and Spatial Paradigms on the Tamil Popular Stage.” In Tamil Geographies: Cultural Constructions of Space and Place in South India. Ed. Martha Ann Selby & Indira Viswanathan Peterson. SUNY Press, 2008.

“Roadwork: Offstage with Special Drama Actresses in Tamilnadu, South India.” In Everyday Life in South Asia, ed. Diane Mines and Sarah Lamb. Indiana University Press 2002, 2nd revised edition 2009.

“Post-Field Positionings” and “The Afterlife of Fieldwork Relations.” Issue Guest Editor, Indian Folklife, Serial No. 23, National Folklore Support Centre, Chennai, India, 2006.

Online Essays

“Craft & Magic on the US Comedy Club Stage” HA! Humor in America, 24 March 2014.