Research

My research interests are interdiscilinary. I am interested in work on youth and processes of regional and global economic restructuring; Migration and children's education; migration and Asian diaporas; education and transnatioanlism; belonging and citizenship; class formation; the Indian middle classes; the politics of schooling; and more broadly, the anthropology of South Asia and urban anthropology.

My recent monograph Youth, Class and Education in Urban India: The year that can break or make you discusses changing educational landscapes in the South Indian city of Kochi, a local hub for trade, tourism, and cosmopolitan middle-class lifestyles. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, I examine the way education features as a major way the transformation of the city, and India in general, are experienced and envisaged by upwardly-mobile residents. Schooling is shown to play a major role in urban lifestyles, with increased privatisation representing a response to the educational strategies of a growing and heterogeneous middle class, whose educational choices reflect broader projects of class formation within the context of religious and caste diversity particular to the region.

This path-breaking new study of a changing Indian middle class and new relationships with educational institutions contributes to the growing body of work on the experiences and meanings of schooling for youths, their parents, and the wider community and thereby adds a unique, anthropologically informed, perspective to South Asian studies, urban studies and the study of education.

My current project, titled Educating migrants: An ethnography of Indian private schools and middle-class lives in Dubai, UAE. It focuses on the educational flows across the Indian Ocean and specifically on Indian private schools in Dubai and their role in the consolidation of a transnational Indian middle class. Indian middle-class migrants constitute not only the main consumers of education, but also the most successful educational entrepreneurs in what is the world’s laboratory for the development of an almost entirely private education sector. In a context where migrants are denied the right to citizenship, schools foster complex modes of transnational belonging and orientations that are yet to be explored. The project seeks to understand how these might foster and sustain processes of social and spatial mobility among Indian middle-class migrants. In addition the project aims to draw out unique empirical insight into the relationship between education providers and state regulations.