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Dr Sumi Madhok

Gender Institute

Email: S.Madhok@lse.ac.uk|

Dr Sumi Madhok

Associate Professor of Transnational Gender Studies

Gender Institute

Email: s.madhok@lse.ac.uk|

Room: COL.5.04A, Columbia House, LSE

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.  

Research Interests

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.

Research Supervision

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

  • 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'.

Selected Recent Publications

SAGEhandbookOfFeministTheory

The SAGE Handbook of Feminist Theory| (eds) Mary Evans, Clare Hemmings, Marsha Henry, Hazel Johnstone, Sumi Madhok, Ania Plomien and Sadie Wearing (2014)

At no point in recorded history has there been an absence of intense, and heated, discussion about the subject of how to conduct relations between women and men. This Handbook provides a comprehensive guide to these omnipresent issues and debates, mapping the present and future of thinking about feminist theory. The chapters gathered here present the state of the art in scholarship in the field, covering: epistemology and marginality; literary, visual and cultural representations; sexuality; macro and microeconomics of gender; conflict and peace. It is an essential reference work for advanced students and academics not only of feminist theory, but of gender and sexuality across the humanities and social sciences.

It is an essential reference work for advanced students and academics not only of feminist theory, but of gender and sexuality across the humanities and social sciences.

 
Rethinking Agency

Rethinking Agency: Developmentalism, Gender and Rights| by Sumi Madhok (2013)

Through an ethnography of the normative and political trajectory of developmentalism and rights in NW India, Rethinking Agency: Developmentalism, Gender and Rights proposes a new theoretical framework for conceptualising agency and coercion. It  tracks the ‘life trajectories of developmentalism’ and in particular the processes of subjectivation it puts in place-- of how individuals are transformed into subjects and as ‘agents of development’, and the ways in which individual rights and ‘rights based development’ function as a form of governmentality, setting in motion new ways of relating to the self and crafting new selfhoods while rendering marginal subjects ever more precarious and exposed to the technologies of developmentalism.

LSE India has recently blogged about this book.|

 
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

Forthcoming 2014

  • Madhok, S.; M. Unnithan and C. Heitmeyer ''On Reproductive Justice: ‘Domestic Violence’, Rights and the Law in India', Culture, Health and Sexuality (In press)
  • 'From a Politics of Origins to a Politics of Meanings: Developmentalism, gender and rights' in Jay Drydyk and Ashwani Peetush (eds) Human Rights: India and the West Delhi: Oxford University Press (In press).

2013

  • Madhok, Sumi. Action, agency, coercion: reformatting agency for oppressive contexts. In: Madhok, Sumi and Phillips, Anne and Wilson, Kalpana, (eds.) Gender, agency and coercion. Palgrave MacMillan, London, UK. ISBN 9780230300323. In press.
  • Madhok. Sumi, Anne Phillips and Kalpana Wilson. ‘Introduction’ and ‘Afterword’ in Gender, Agency and Coercion. Palgrave MacMillan, London, UK. ISBN 9780230300323. In press.

2012

  • Madhok, Sumi. ‘Reflexivity’ in Mary Evans and Carolyn Williams (editors), Gender: key Concepts, Routledge. In press.
  • Madhok, Sumi and Rai, Shirin, M. Rai. ‘Agency, Injury, and Transgressive Politics in Neoliberal Times’. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 37 (3). pp. 645-669. ISSN 0097-9740

2010

  • Madhok, Sumi. "Rights talk" and the feminist movement in India. In: Roces, Mina and Edwards, Louise, (eds.) Women's movements in Asia: feminisms and transnational activism. Routledge, London, UK. ISBN 9780415487030
  • Madhok, Sumi.  Poverty, entitlement and citizenship: vernacular rights cultures in Southern Asia. In: Chant, Sylvia, (ed.) The international handbook on gender and poverty. Edward Elgar, London, UK. ISBN 978184844334

2009

  • Madhok, Sumi. Five notions of Haq: exploring vernacular rights cultures in Southern Asia. New working paper series, 25. Gender Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK

2007

  • Madhok, Sumi. Autonomy, gendered subordination and transcultural dialogue. Journal of global ethics, 3 (3). pp. 335-357. ISSN 1744-9626

2005

  • Madhok, Sumi. Autonomy and human rights. In: Van Den Anker, Christine and Smith, Rhona K., (eds.) The essential guide to human rights. Hodder Arnold, London, UK.
  • Madhok, Sumi .Autonomy, political literacy and the "social woman": towards a politics of inclusion. In: Bates, Crispin and Basu, Subho, (eds.) Rethinking Indian political institutions. Anthem, London, UK.

2004

  • Madhok, Sumi. Heteronomous women? Hidden assumptions in the demography of women. In: Unnithan-Kumar, Maya, (ed.) Reproductive change, medicine and the state: ethnographic explorations of agency in child bearing. Bergahn Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 223-244.

2003

  • Madhok, Sumi. A "limited women’s empowerment": politics, the state, and development in north west India. Women’s studies quarterly, special issue, "Women and development: rethinking policy and reconceptualising practice", 31 (3 & 4). pp. 154-173. ISSN 1934-1520

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;

 

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    Sumi Madhok