Main content start

Isabel M. Salovaara

Field of Interest(s)
Aspiration; anthropology of the state; social mobility; urban space, place and environments; personhood and the life course; youth studies; education, examinations, and test preparation; work; gender; South Asia

Isabel Salovaara's research explores the social effects of aspirational projects in India. Her work on tutoring, coaching, and test preparation in Delhi and Patna has examined supplemental education institutions as sites for the production of personhood. Isabel conducted her Ph.D. fieldwork in Patna, Bihar, focusing on coaching institutes that specialize in entrance exams for lower-level, non-technical posts in the bureaucracy, public sector banks, and the police. Her dissertation addresses how aspirational processes of preparing for a government job refigure caste, gender, and youth politics ​in the shifting material and moral economies of post-liberalization urban India.

Isabel received her A.B. in History summa cum laude from Harvard University and completed her M.Phil. in Social Anthropology as a Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge. Her research has been supported by two Fulbright fellowships and a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant.​ Prior to beginning her Ph.D. program, she taught undergraduate fieldwork methods and introductory social science courses for two years at O.P. Jindal Global University in Sonipat, India.


Podcast interview

Isabel M. Salovaara