Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington
  • People

Department of Anthropology College of Arts and Sciences
One Discipline, Four Fields

Susan Seizer


Associate Professor, Anthropology Department
Affiliate Faculty, Folklore and Ethnomusicology
Adjunct Faculty, American Studies
Adjunct Faculty, Theatre and Drama
Affiliate Faculty, Gender Studies
Core Faculty, India Studies


(812) 812-856-1986 | Email | Office Hours

B.A. English, Barnard College, Columbia University

MA Anthropology, University of Chicago

Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Chicago

Geographical Areas of Specialization: South Asia, esp. South India (Tamilnadu); U.S.

Topical Interests: Humor in use; Stigma and its effects; Performance (dance, theater, circus); Standup Comedy; South Asian Studies; Ethnographic Writing & Ethnographic Methods; Documentary, Diasporic, and Feminist Film; Disability studies; Gender Studies; Kinship


Research and Teaching interests include: Performance Studies; Standup comedy; Humor in use; Stigma; Diasporic Femisnist Film; Queer studies; Disability studies; Ethnographic Writing/Ethnographic Methods; Anthropology of Parents & Children. Geographical areas: India and the U.S.

Prof. Seizer's first ethnographic research project focused on the lives of popular theater artists in Tamilnadu, South India. Her book, Stigmas of the Tamil Stage: An Ethnography of Special Drama artists in South India (Duke University Press, 2005) won the prestigious A.K. Coomaraswamy Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies in 2007. Her ethnographic documentary film "Road Comic: Big Work on Small Stages (2012) turns an anthropological lens on the lives of road comics in the contemporary U.S.

Prior to becoming an anthropologist, Seizer was a performer of dance, theater, and circus. Many of her scholarly interests follow threads she first explored as a performer: improvisation; the way comedy can be used to do just about anything; and the particular exhilaration many women find in transgressing normative gender roles through public performance.


  • E338/E609 Stigma: Culture, Identity and the Abject
  • E414 Humor in Use
  • E502 Performance Seminar
  • E454 South Asia through Performance
  • E604 Performance & Politics in South India
  • E200 Introduction to Social-Cultural Anthropology
  • E2XX Anthropology of Parents and Children

Selected Publications

Select Publications

Single-Authored Books


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



Road Comics: Big Work on Small Stages. Producer, ethnographic documentary film. Streaming at


The Buffoon-Dance Duet. Ethnographic short film (in Tamil). Steaming at