Sumi Madhok is Associate Professor at the LSE Gender Institute. She was appointed to a lectureship at the Gender Institute in 2008. Prior to this, she held a LSE Research Fellowship and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at SOAS. Her research interests lie at the intersection of feminist political theory and philosophy, gender theories, transnational activism, rights/human rights, citizenship, activism, postcoloniality, developmentalism and feminist ethnographies. In particular, she is interested in questions of agency and coercion, in the new citizenship movements and in the genealogical investigations of rights discourses, cultures and subjectivities, especially within Southern Asia.
Experience keywords: transnational gender analysis; feminist social and political theory, particularly of autonomy; agency and human rights; vernacular rights cultures; postcoloniality; citizenship; South Asian politics; developmentalism
Dr Madhok's LSE Experts entry is available here.
Dr Sumi Madhok is on Leverhulme research leave in 2015-2016.
Her current work engages broadly with questions of feminist politics and more specifically, with questions of agency and coercion, with practices, discourses and circulations of rights/human rights and with ‘vernacular rights cultures’. She is also very interested in the empirical and normative life trajectories of developmentalism. In her first book, Rethinking Agency: Developmentalism Gender, and Rights (2013), she argues that taking up the question of oppression and subordination seriously, requires modifications in our conceptual understandings of agency. Through ethnography of the normative and political trajectory of developmentalism and rights in northwest India, her book focuses both on a specific question, i.e. how to think about agency in oppressive contexts, but also how to think more broadly about the relationship between gender, agency and coercion. It not only proposes certain modifications to our agency thinking – arguing for a move away from free action to evaluating speech practices – but also examines and illustrates this new theoretical framework through extensive ethnographic work documenting narratives of human rights and justice of women development workers in rural Rajasthan, India, carefully tracking the entry of developmentalist ideas, especially those related to individual rights, analysing their mode of deployment, operation, and the nature of transformations these induce, including new kinds of subjectivities, injuries, risks and forms of subjection.
While carrying out several rounds of this ethnographic fieldwork, she became very aware of the innovative use of the literal and conceptual language of rights deployed by these development workers, and of the sociological and political relationships including identities that this language signified/upheld. This creative engagement and employment of rights by her fieldwork participants led her to think more broadly of the wider deployment of rights and human rights, particularly in citizenship movements in the South Asian region and consequently, to her current research project on vernacular rights cultures.
She is currently writing her second monograph,Vernacular Rights Cultures, Citizenship and Gendered Politics in Southern Asia which seeks to examine and conceptually capture the innovative language of citizenship entitlements in South Asia. The book puts forward a genealogical view of rights in South Asia, provides a detailed and a ‘grounded’ understanding of the contemporary articulation and practices of rights in the region and through documenting extensive rights ethnographies of citizenship movements in India and Pakistan, offers an assessment of how rights operate politically and of the political cultures they create paying particular attention to the forms of citizenship practices and subjectivities produced.
She welcomes MPhil/PhD applications from students to study at the Gender Institute with her on her areas of research expertise, which include feminist politics and theories; transnational rights/human rights politics and movements; feminist ethnographies; and postcolonial gendered politics, citizenship and developmentalism.
Please see our PhD programme pages for how to apply and what we are looking for in a research proposal.
Recent Research Grants and Awards
2015-2016. Leverhulme Research Fellowship
2013. Major Review Teaching Prize
2012. Visiting Fellowship, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Dehli.
2012. LSE Research Committee Seed Grant
2008. 'Standard ESRC Grant' [RES-062-23-1609]
2005-2007. 'Mellon Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship'
2005-2008--'Small Personal Research Grant', The British Academy; Individual Research Grant; The Ford Foundation
2003. 'Fieldwork and Travel Grant', The British Academy
Among other prizes, she has been the recipient of the INLAKS doctoral Scholarship and the 'Nehru Memorial Fund Prize'.
Teaching and Administration
Winner of Major Reveiw Teaching Prize 2013 for outsanding contribution to teaching.
Convener MSc Gender and Gender (Research) degree programmes;
Convenor and Lecturer of full unit course Gender Theories in the Modern World: an interdisciplinary perspective;
Convener and Lecturer of half unit course GI402 Gender, Knowledge and Research Practice;
Convener and Lecturer of half unit course GI411 Gender, Postcoloniality, Development: Critical Perspectives and New Directions;