Home > Gender Institute > Who's who > profiles > Dr Kalpana Wilson
How to contact us

Dr Kalpana Wilson

Gender Institute

Tel:  +44 20 7852 3758

email: r.k.wilson@lse.ac.uk|

Dr Kalpana Wilson

Senior LSE Fellow in Gender Theory, Globalisation and Development

Gender Institute

Email: r.k.wilson@lse.ac.uk| 

Room: COL.5.04B, Columbia House, LSE

Kalpana is Senior LSE Fellow in Gender Theory, Globalisation and Development. Her research interests are interdisciplinary and include the relationships between neoliberalism, gender and concepts of agency, the experiences of women in rural labour movements in South Asia, and the ways in which race is inscribed within discourses and practices of development. 

Current research

Dr Kalpana Wilson's recent monograph Race, Racism and Development - Interrogating History Discourse and Practice (2012) places racism and constructions of race at the centre of an exploration of the dominant discourses, structures and practices of development. Combining insights from postcolonial, feminist, and race critical theory with a political economy framework, it analyses the relationships between development, race, capital, embodiment and resistance in historical and contemporary contexts. Exposing how race is central to development policies and practices relating to population control, HIV/AIDS, human rights, security, good governance, NGOs, visual representations and the role of diasporas in development, it raises questions about contemporary imperialism and the possibilities for transnational political solidarity.

She is also engaged in ongoing research focusing on the processes through which concepts associated with feminism have been appropriated and transformed by neoliberalism. This explores in particular how gendered and racialised constructions of women's 'agency' have been elaborated within the framework of a neoliberal model of development, and contrasts these with notions of collective agency which emerge from experiences within movements which challenge this model.

Tracing the concept of agency historically through a series of transformations, she argues that within contemporary dominant development discourses the exercise of agency is sought in women's strategies for survival rather than struggles for transformation, and at the level of the individual rather than the collective. Paradoxically, post-modern emphasis on the subject has been incorporated alongside liberal definitions of the 'rational individual exercising free will' in Gender and Development discourses to pursue and legitimise neoliberal economic policies involving intensified exploitation of poor women's labour. This work draws on experiences, approaches and perceptions of women involved in rural labour movements in Bihar in eastern India, collective and explicitly political struggles which have been rendered invisible within the dominant discourses of Gender and Development.

Another strand of this research explores contemporary visual representations in development. This looks at the ways in which the emphasis on neoliberal understandings of agency and empowerment has shaped a turn to 'positive, active' representations of women by development institutions, and examines the specific ways in which these more recent visual productions are both gendered and racialised.

Selected Recent Publications

Race, Racism and Development
Race, Racism and Development: Interrogating history, discourse and practice| by Kalpana Wilson (2012)

This is the first book to place constructions of race and racism at the centre of a comprehensive analysis of the dominant discourses and practices of development. The book tackles human rights, imperialism, culture, ethnic conflict, HIV/Aids and the role of diasporas, and highlights the latent racialisation in such debates to argue that development can only be understood within a full understanding of the relationship between north and south.
Gender, Agency and Coercion
Gender, Agency and Coercion| (eds) Sumi Madhok, Anne Phillips, Kalpana Wilson (2013)

This collection aims to think critically about agency and explore the relationship between agency and coercion in a range of regional, intellectual, ethical and political contexts. Contributions from Samantha Ashenden, Ngaire Donaghue, Mary Evans, Rosalind Gill, Clare Hemmings, Marsha Henry, Kimberly Hutchings, Emily Jackson, Amal Treacher Kabesh, Lois McNay, Sadie Wearing and Heather Widdows.

Selected Publications

  • Agency as “Smart Economics”: Neoliberalism, Gender and Development’ in Gender, Agency and Coercion, eds. Sumi Madhok, Anne Phillips and Kalpana Wilson, London: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2013
  • ‘Gender and Development’ in Gender: The Key Concepts, Mary Evans and Carolyn Williams (eds.), Abingdon: Routledge, forthcoming
  • '"Race", Gender and Neoliberalism: Changing Visual Representations in Development', Third World Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2011, pp. 315–331
  • 'From Missionaries to Microcredit?’ in The Gender and Development Reader, eds. Nalini Visvanthan et al, London: Zed Books, 2011
  • 'Picturing Gender and Poverty: from "Victimhood" to "agency"?' in The International Handbook on Gender and Poverty, ed. Sylvia Chant, Edward Elgar, 2010
  • 'Reclaiming Feminism: Gender and Neoliberalism', Special Issue co-edited with Andrea Cornwall and Jasmine Gideon, IDS Bulletin, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, December 2008
  • 'Appropriating "agency", marginalizing resistance' IDS Bulletin, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, December 2008
  • 'Agency' in The Impact of Feminism on Political Concepts and Debates, eds. Georgina Blakeley and Valerie Bryson, Manchester University Press, Manchester pp. 126-145, 2007
  • 'Who are the "Community"? The World Bank and agrarian power in Bihar' Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLI No. 1, January 7-13, 2006
  • 'Small Cultivators in Bihar and "New" Technology - Choice or Compulsion?' Economic and Political Weekly, Vol.37, no.13, March 30, 2002
  • 'Patterns of Accumulation and Struggles of Rural Labour: Some Aspects of Agrarian Change in Central Bihar', in Journal of Peasant Studies, Special Issue on Rural Labour Relations in India, Vol 26, Nos.2-3 pp 316-354, 1999
  • 'Class Alliances and the Nature of Hegemony: the post-Independence Indian State in Marxist writing', in T.V.Sathyamurthy (ed.) Social Change and Political Discourse in India - Vol.1, State and Nation in the Context of Social Change, Oxford University Press, Delhi pp 246-273, 1994


Recent Conference Papers

  • ‘Dalit women’s collective movements and neoliberal development interventions’ Dalit women’s narratives and voices : Cross-disciplinary perspectives, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, 3-4 May 2012
  • ‘Rethinking representation in development’ in 'Exporting' Gender Equality? Postcolonial Feminist Reflections, panel discussion, The Women’s Library, 18 April 2012
  • ‘Gender, Neoliberalism and Rural Labour in India’, Rural Labourers in Neo-Liberal India, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar, India, conference organized by XIMB, Orissa and York University, Toronto, Canada, 18 and 19 December 2010
  • 'Development Interventions, Racism and the Pathologisation of Sexuality', Race in the Modern World conference, Goldsmiths College, 1-3 April 2009
  • The Uprising of 1857 and its contemporary relevance', 1857/2007: Imperialism, 'Race', Resistance conference organized by South Asia Solidarity Group and the 1857 Committee, SOAS, London, 6 October 2007