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BERTI Daniela

National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)

Ethnology/ Social Anthropology / section 38 / HDR

daniela.berti [at]


A social anthropologist (PhD, University of Siena, ’Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches’, University of Paris Nanterre), her research initially focused on the logic of interaction and of interpretive procedures in the context of various ritual settings in India—oracular and astrological consultations, Brahmanical and tantric rituals. She also studied the political implications that some of these ritual frameworks imply—particularly with regard to royal festivals, ritual iconography, and historical writings.

Over the last ten years, Daniela’s research has focused on the ethnographic study of judicial settings in India. She has conducted research on various district courts in Himachal Pradesh (Kullu, Mandi, Shimla) on criminal cases – cannabis cultivation, drug trafficking, caste-based and dowry-related issues – and, more recently, on cases related to environment and animal rights. She currently carries out fieldwork at the National Green Tribunal in Delhi on cases dealing with conservation and species survival, and at the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun (Uttarakhand) where she studies how wildlife biologists monitor animal populations, producing expertise that is used in court litigation.

Main Research Projects
• Ongoing (2020-2025) : Project coordinator of the ANR programme Ruling on Nature. Animals and the Environment before the Court (RULNAT) ; (in partnership with Vincent Chapaux (Université Libre de Bruxelles).Vanessa Manceron (LESC), and Sandrine Revet (INSP).
• 2015-2017 Coordinator of the project Judicialiser la nature. Projet de développement, aires protégées et réformes religieuses en Asie du Sud ; funded by programme ’Dynasie’ (Dynamiques Asiatiques) of the PRES héSam ; in collaboration with Blandine Ripert (CEIAS), Joëlle Smadja (CEH), and Raphaël Voix (CEIAS).
• 2017 Coordination of project Taking Nature to the Courtroom, Wenner Gren Foundation, with Anthony Good (Edinburgh University).
• 2009-2013 Project coordinator of the ANR programme ANR Governance and Justice in Contemporary India and South Asia (JUST-INDIA) ; in collaboration with Gilles Tarabout (LESC). (JUST-INDIA).
• 2005-2007 Project coordinator of programme ATIP CNRS-SHS « Jeunes Chercheurs » The Cultural Entrenchment of Hindutva. Local Mediations and Forms of Resistance ; in collaboration with Nicolas Jaoul (Iris).

List of publications in HAL

Selective Bibliography

2023 “A tale of many battles. Arguing legal personhood for animals in the USA and India”, Contributions to Indian Sociology : 13-43

2023 (with A. Good), eds., Animal Sacrifice, Religion and Law in South Asia. Abingdon ; Routledge.

2023 Animal Sacrifice on Trial. Moral Reforms and Religious Freedom in India, in D. Berti & A. Good (eds.), Animal Sacrifice, Religion and Law in South Asia. Abingdon : Routledge. (Open Access)

2023 (with A. Good) « Introduction. The Judicialisation and Politicisation of Sacrifice », in D. Berti & A. Good (eds), Animal Sacrifice, Religion and Law in South Asia, pp.1-50. Abingdon ; Routledge. (Open Access)

2022 Recension : « Des fauves et des hommes », à propos de : Nayanika Mathur, Crooked Cats. Beastly Encounters in the Anthropocene, The University of Chicago Press. In La Vie des Idées, 3 novembre 2022. Cats.html

2022 “Possession, Communication and Power in Himachal Pradesh (North India)”, in Eva Pócs & András Zempléni (eds.), Spirit Possession : Multidisciplinary Approaches to a Worldwide Phenomenon, pp. 393-413. Budapest/Vienna/New York : Central European University Press.

2019 “Animals in the Public Debate : Welfare, Rights, and Conservationism in India”, in Barbara Ambros & Reiko Ohnuma (eds.), Buddhist Beasts : Reflections on Animals in Asian Religions and Cultures, Religions 2019, 10 (8) : 475-99

2017 « Questioning the truth. Ideals of justice and trial techniques in India » (with Gilles Tarabout) in Yazid Ben Hounet and Deborah Puccio-Den (eds.), Truth, Intentionality and Evidence : Anthropological Approaches to Crime. Abingdon, Routledge : 10-27.

2016 Filing Religion. State, Hinduism and Courts of Law (with Gilles Tarabout, Raphaël Voix, eds.), New-Delhi, Oxford University Press, 403 p.

2016 "Plaintiff Deities. Ritual Honours as Fundamental Rights in India" in D. Berti, G. Tarabout and R. Voix (eds.), Filing Religion. State, Hinduism and Courts of Law. Delhi, Oxford University Press.

2015 Of Doubt and Proof. Ritual and Legal Practices of Judgment, (with Anthony Good and Gilles Tarabout), Farnham, Ashgate Publishing ;

2015 "The Technicalities of Doubting : Temple Consultations and District Courts in India" in D. Berti, A. Good, G. Tarabout (eds.), Of Doubt and Proof. Ritual and Legal Practices of Judgment. Farnham, Ashgate : 19-38.

2015 Regimes of Legalities. Ethnography of Criminal Cases in South Asia, (with Devika Bordia, eds.), New Delhi, Oxford Univeristy Press, 333 p.

2015 “Binding Fictions. Contradictory Facts and Judicial Constraints in a Narcotics Case in Himachal Pradesh”, in Daniela Berti and Devika Bordia (eds.), Regimes of Legality. Ethnography of Criminal Cases in South Asia. Delhi, Oxford University Press : 91-128.

2015 “Gods’ Rights vs Hydroelectric Projects. Environmental Conflicts and the Judicialization of Nature in India", Rivista di Studi Orientali. Supplement 2 : 111-129.

2015 "Religion et environnement dans les procédures judiciaires en Inde" (with G. Tarabout), Cahiers de la justice, 2015 / 3.

2015 "Local Powers and Judicial Constraints in a Case of Rape in India", in (transl.), Diogenes, 239-240 (D. Berti and G. Tarabout, eds., The Frontiers of Law. Justice, Power and Politics).

2013 "Ritual faults and legal offences. A discussion about two patterns of justice in contemporary India". In Phyllis Granoff and Koichi Shinohara (dir.) Sin and Expiation : Perspectives from Asian Religions. pp. 153-172, Boston : Brill.

2011. "Courts of Law and Legal Practice". In I. Clark-Deces (ed) A Companion to the Anthropology of India, pp. 355-370. Oxford, Maiden. Blackwell Publishing.

2011. "Trials, Witnesses and Local Stakes in a District Court of Himachal Pradesh (North India)". In J. Pfaff and G. Toffin (eds.) Citizenship, Democracy, and Belonging in the Himalayas, pp. 290-313. Sage : New Delhi.

2011, "The local enactment of Hindutva Writing stories on local gods in Himachal Pradesh". in D. Berti, N. Jaoul and P. Kanungo (eds.), The Cultural Entrenchment of Hindutva. Local Mediations and Forms of Resistance, pp. 64-90. Delhi, Routledge.

2011. "Political Patronage and Ritual Competitions at the Dashera Festival in Northern India". In C. Brosius and K. Polit (eds.). Ritual, Heritage and Identity, pp. 126-148. Delhi : Sage.

2010. "Hostile Witnesses, Judicial Interactions and Out-of-Court Narratives in a North Indian District Court". In Contributions to Indian Sociology, vol. 44, 3, pp. 235-263.

2009. (eds. with Gilles Tarabout) Territory, Soil and Society in the South Asia. New Delhi, Manohar.

2009 "Kings, Gods, and Political Leaders in Kullu". In M. Lecomte-Tilouine (ed.). Bards and Mediums : History, Culture, and Politics in the Central Himalayan Kingdoms, pp. 107-136. Almora : Almora Book Depot.

2007. "Hindu Nationalists and Local History : From Ideology to Local Lore". In Rivista di Studi Sudasiatici, vol. 2, pp. 5-36.

Recent Papers

2023 ’Devenir vermine. Batailles judiciaires et militantes autour des espèces déclarées nuisibles en Inde’, Journée d’étude EFEO : Les relations humains/non-humains à la mesure de l’expansion des pratiques agricoles productivistes en Inde et Asie du Sud-Est. Paris, EFEO.

2023 ’Droits de passage. Corridors biologiques et infrastructures routières en Inde’, Séminaire du CESAH, "Actualité de la recherche sur l’Asie du Sud", EHESS, Campus Condorcet.

2023 ’Protection animale et liberté religieuse en Inde : le cas des sacrifices d’animaux’, paper presented at the workshop ’Anthropologie historique de la nature : le droit et les non-humains : dialogue entre Antiquité, anthropologie et droit’, Nanterre.

2023 ’La justice indienne peut-elle protéger les tigres des autoroutes ?’, Petit Séminaire Critique, University of Nantes (zoom)

2022 ’Connecting Tigers : Scientific Reports and Wildlife Politics in India’, paper presented at the workshop ’Ruling on Nature. Animals and the Environment before the Court’, RULNAT, Campus Condorcet, Aubervilliers

2022 “Tiger corridors, national highways and wildlife politics in Uttarakhand”, paper presented at the workshop ’Himalayan Journeys. Circulations and transformations’, CEH, Campus Condorcet, Aubervilliers.

2021 “A Tale of Two Battles. Arguing Legal Personhood for Animals in the USA and India”, demi-journée Workshop RULNAT, Campus Condorcet.2019 ‘Predicting Species Survival and the Future of Wildlife in India’, paper presented at the workshop Figuring the Future, Yale University,

2018 ‘Ruling on Nature. Rivers and Animals as Legal Persons in Uttarakhand’, paper presented at the workshop New Directions in Himalayan Studies, Ceh, University of Berkeley

2018 ‘Animals in the Public Debate : Hunting, Conservationism and Animal Rights in India’, paper presented at the workshop Buddhist Beast. Reflection of Animals in Asian Religions and Culture, University of British Columbia

2018 ‘From Animal Protection to Animals’ own Rights. Arguing the Legal Status of Animals in Indian Courts’, ECSAS, Paris, 25 August 2018

2018 ‘Steven Wise and the ‘Non-Human Rights Project’, CEH, Villejuif, February 2018

2018 ‘Gods, Animals and Natural Resources as Legal Persons in India.’ Justice Lecture Series Université de Cologne, December 2018

2017 ‘Animal Sacrifice under Judicial Scrutiny’, 3ème workshop Taking Nature to the Courtroom in South Asia, University of Edinburgh

2016 ‘Ritual Presences and Legal Persons. Deities and the Law in India’, presented at the international workshop, Maçay.

2016 ‘Moral Reforms and Religious Freedom in India’, Yale Seminar in Religious Studies, Yale University, 2016.

2016 ‘Catastrophes divines et activisme écologique. La nature au tribunal en Inde’, SciencePo, Paris.