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Leilah Vevaina received her PhD in Social Anthropology from the New School for Social Research in 2015. She has an MA in Anthropology from The New School (2007) as well as an MA in Social Thought from New York University (2005). Her research lies in the intersection of urban property and religious life within the legal regimes of contemporary India. She has conducted fieldwork in Mumbai, India and Hong Kong, with specific focus on the Indian Zoroastrian, or Parsi, community, with generous support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation as well as the American Institute of Indian Studies. Her book entitled, Trust Matters: Parsi Endowments in Mumbai and the Horoscope of a City (Duke University Press) focuses on religious endowments and the trust as a mechanism of property management in the city.

In addition to her focus on Zoroastrian global philanthropic networks, Leilah is researching Zoroastrian death rituals and their legal and funerary infrastructures for a new book on necrofinance, death and diaspora. Her forthcoming project seeks to research the connection between gambling and charity in historical and contemporary of Hong Kong with particular attention to the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Leilah Vevaina is also the founding Director of the South Asia from Asia Initiative at Chinese University which aims to bring together research and teaching on South Asia in Hong Kong in collaboration with other departments in the Faculty of Arts and university partners.

Research Areas/ Geographical Areas/ Current Research

Research Areas

The relationship between charity, religion, and economic life. Religious endowment forms and finance. Urban spaces and property. Death rituals and religious infrastructure. Postcolonial law and society. Charity and Philanthropy. Transnational Giving. Anthropology of South Asia.

Geographical Areas

South Asia, South Asian diaspora, Hong Kong SAR

Current Research

Shifting death rituals in the Zoroastrian diaspora; the philanthropy of the Hong Kong Jockey Club



Trust Matters: Parsi Endowments in Mumbai and the Horoscope of a City. 2023. Duke University Press

Books in Progress

Death and Diaspora: Faith and Necrofinance in Zoroastrian Funerary Practices

Editorial Works

Co-editor with Sanam Roohi and Catherine Larouche of Special Issue in Ethnography on “Transnational Giving in the Global South,” Volume 24, Issue 3, September 2023.

Refereed Articles

(2023) “Trusts on the Monsoon Winds: Parsi Transnational Philanthropic Giving.Ethnography, 24(3), 316-333.

(2023) “Mergers and Legal Fictions: Coverture and Intermarried Women in India.Law and History Review, 41(2), 387-404.

(2023) “Three Fire Temples and a Metro: Contesting Infrastructures in Mumbai.Space and Culture, 26(2), 242-252.

(2018) “She’s Come Undone: Parsi Women’s Property and Propriety under the Law.Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 41(1), 44-59.

(2018) “Good Deeds: Parsi Trusts from the Womb to the Tomb.Modern Asian Studies, 52(1), 238-265. 

Non-refereed Articles in refereed Journals

(2023) Roohi, S., Larouche, C., & Vevaina, L. “Transnational Giving and Evolving Religious, Ethnic and Political Formations in the Global South.Ethnography, 24(3), 303-315.

Book Chapters

“Farhad: Sue-maker”, in Bombay Brokers: Anthropological Theory from the Ethnographic Edge, edited by Lisa Björkman. Duke University Press, 2021.

Adjudicating the Sacred: the Fates of ‘Native’ Religious Endowments in India and Hong Kong”, in The Secular in South, East, and Southeast Asia, edited by Peter van der Veer and Kenneth Dean. Palgrave, 2019.

Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good (Trust) Deeds: Parsis, Risk and Real Estate in Mumbai” in Religion in World Cities: Asia, edited by Peter van der Veer. University of California Press, Berkeley, 2015.

Excarnation and the City: The Tower of Silence Debates in Mumbai” in Topographies of Faith: Religion in Urban Spaces, edited by Irene Becci, Marian Burchardt, and Jose Casanova. Brill, Leiden, 2013.

Articles in Progress

“Of Faith and Fortune: Perpetual Trusts and the Muktad Ceremonies” in submission to Material Religion.

Book Reviews and Blog Posts

(2022) “The Plot to Disembed: Markets in the Subjunctive Tense,” Book Commentary, Journal of Cultural Economy, 15(5), 710-713.

“‘Fluid Jurisdictions’ and Solid Perpetuities” in Forum on Waqfs, HistPhil. 2020.

Giving, Time, and a Wish,” in Exchange, Gospels of Giving, The Immanent Frame. 2019.

Grants and Projects

2021-24 Early Career Grant – HK Research Grants Council – “Funerals, Faith, and Finance in the Parsi Zoroastrian Diaspora”

2011 Dissertation Fieldwork Grant – The Wenner-Gren Foundation

2010-11 Junior Fellowship – American Institute of Indian Studies

Courses taught

ANTH 1020 Anthropology: The Study of Culture

ANTH 2210 Anthropological Field Methods

ANTH 2340 Magic Myth and the Supernatural

ANTH 5010 Anthropological Theory

ANTH 5335 Magic Myth and the Supernatural

ANTH 6020 Research Methods

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