Research

At present I am in the third and final year of my postdoctoral research project funded by the British Academy, titled Educating Migrants. The objective of this project has been to describe, understand and theorise the relationship between transnational educational flows and the movement of people, in particular children and families across the Indian Ocean. It builds on 14 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Dubai (2016-2017), a global hub in which the routes of growing numbers of migrant children and families, crisscross with other tracks laid down by financial flows and the movement of educational institutions, curricula, teachers, and ideas. Specifically, Educating Migrants has endeavour to understand how global educational flows might foster and sustain processes of social and spatial mobility among Indian middle-class residents in Dubai, where Indian residents constitute not only one of the main consumers of education, but also some of the most successful educational providers.

My current and past research builds on the ethnographic study of socially and geographically mobile south Indians hailing from Kerala, a state well known for its high levels of ‘development’ and Gulf migration. My doctoral research, now published as a monograph entitled Youth, Class and Education in Urban India: The year that can break or make you, builds on ‘in-’ and ‘out-of school’ ethnographies of two schools in the South Indian city of Kochi, a local hub for trade, tourism, and cosmopolitan middle-class lifestyles. In it, I bring together anthropological literature on globalization and middle-class cultural practice in south Asia; literature on children and youth—as people and as socially constructed categories–; and sociological research on schools as sites of social reproduction, and cultural production. I unpack both the capacities of contemporary Indian private schooling to reproduce caste, class and gender inequalities, while simultaneously allowing space for active ways in which youth and their families appropriate and reproduce emergent educational aspirations, strategies and investments.