Dr Sharmila Parmanand

Dr Sharmila Parmanand

Assistant Professor in Gender, Development and Globalisation

Department of Gender Studies

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Connect with me

English, Filipino
Key Expertise
sex work; trafficking; migration; gender and development

About me

Dr Sharmila Parmanand is also an Associate Academic at the LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre and co-convenor of the Development Studies Association Women and Development Study Group

My research examines the colonial histories and gendered logics that underpin development and humanitarian interventions in the global south, with a focus on the politics of knowledge production and feminist entanglements with the state on issues such as migration, gender-based violence, precarious labour, economic restructuring and social protection.  

I am currently working on my first book, titled Saving Our Sisters: The Politics of Anti-Trafficking and Sex Work in the Philippines, which uses the Philippines as a case study to show how anti-trafficking invokes the language of development and human rights to entrench border control practices and the gendered policing of precarious workers. This manuscript makes the case for an expansive postcolonial reimagining of anti-trafficking that repositions it as a question of social justice and equity rather than criminalisation.   

I have started research for my second monograph, which compares sex work activisms within the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore across the last three decades. It will offer insights into non-traditional forms of political mobilisation by stigmatised and criminalised populations, as well as sexual rights and labour activism in a global context. A central theme is how sex workers engage in claims-making, produce insurgent spaces, and challenge sexual and gender hierarchies, rather than passively accepting moral and spatial regulations imposed on them.   

I have also been studying the connections between masculinity, nationalism, and populism, primarily in the context of former Philippine President Duterte’s war on drugs and several world leaders’ responses to the pandemic. My work in this field speaks to the seductiveness of moral panics in difficult socio-economic times, the harms of securitising social problems, and the centrality of care and care provisioning to development. 

Prior to joining LSE, I was a lecturer at the University of Vermont Department of Theater, University of the Philippines-Diliman Department of Women and Development Studies, and Ateneo de Manila University Department of English and Literature, and supervised courses on gender and politics and comparative Southeast Asian politics at the University of Cambridge

Selected media:

Major Awards:

  • ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (London School of Economics and Political Science, 2021-2022)
  • Gates Cambridge PhD Scholarship (University of Cambridge, 2016-2020)
  • Australian Leadership Award MA Scholarship (University of Melbourne, 2011-2012)

Expertise Details

sex work; trafficking; migration; gender and development; gender and populism; feminist ethnography


Journal articles and book chapters


Interviews, short articles, video podcasts, reports, event organising


Book reviews