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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Lauren Wilks

Lauren Wilks
Dr Lauren Wilks
4.13 Chrystal Macmillan Building George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Work, labour, gender, mobility, inequality, family and personal relationships, gender-based violence, ethnography, qualitative research, feminist research


Lauren Wilks is a feminist ethnographer and social researcher with interests in work/labour, gender, mobility, and inequality. She trained in History and Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, and she received her PhD (in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh) in 2019. She is currently an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. 

Lauren previously worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Edinburgh and a Social Researcher at the Scottish Government. In 2013, she was also a Student Fellow at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and she has published her writing in The GuardianThe Huffington Post, and several other news/media outlets. 


Lauren’s ESRC-funded PhD drew on sixteen months of ethnographic fieldwork to explore the everyday lives and experiences of commuting domestic workers in Kolkata. As an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, she is working to consolidate, share, and expand this research, looking more broadly at the changing organisation of paid domestic work in India.

Lauren is passionate about working with others for knowledge exchange and impact. Alongside publishing articles and book chapters from her PhD, she is collaborating with Anchita Ghatak from Parichiti (a women’s organisation that works for the rights of domestic workers in Kolkata), Dr Supurna Banerjee from the Institute of Development Studies Kolkata (IDSK), and Samia Singh, an independent illustrator and graphic designer, to create an illustrated short story exploring some of the issues domestic workers in India face.

For updates on Lauren’s work, follow her on Twitter: @wilksls

Projects and affiliations

Lauren is a member of the Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives project led by Dr Radhika Govinda at the University of Edinburgh, as well as the global Research Network for Domestic Workers’ Rights (RN-DWR). She is also an Associate Researcher at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR) at the University of Edinburgh; and, in January 2020, she was a Visiting Researcher at the Institute of Development Studies Kolkata (IDSK).


Lauren is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has tutored and lectured on various UG and PG courses (Sociology, South Asian Studies, Development Studies) at the University of Edinburgh. She has also worked on a student-led journal project, supporting UG students to create an online, peer-reviewed, open access journal, helped establish a new peer support scheme for Master’s students (both SSPS, University of Edinburgh), and worked with colleagues to design and facilitate ‘taster’ Sociology workshops as part of the Sutton Trust Summer School and the Kickstart Summer Programme – two widening participation initiatives at the University of Edinburgh.

Selected publications

Journal articles:

Wilks, L. Forthcoming 2021. ‘Managing mobility: Commuting domestic workers, mobile phones, and women’s “honour” in Kolkata’, Contemporary South Asia.

Wilks, L. Forthcoming 2021. ‘Contestation and constraint: commuting domestic workers and their employers in contemporary Kolkata’, South Asian History and Culture (Special Issue).

Mirza, N. & L. Wilks. 2020. ‘Corrigendum: Reframing agency in abusive contexts: beyond “free choice” and “open resistance”’, Journal of Gender-Based Violence, 4 (2): 295 (original article published February 2018; vol. 2, no. 1),

Wilks, L. 2011. 'Missionary medicine & the "separatist tradition": an analysis of the missionary encounter with leprosy in late nineteenth-century India', Social Scientist, 39 (5-6): 48-66,

Book chapters:

Wilks, L. 2020. ‘“Soft” topics and “soft” teachers: Some reflections on teaching (gender and feminism) at a UK university’. In Doing Feminisms in the Academy: Identity, Institutional Pedagogy and Critical Classrooms in India and the UK, edited by R. Govinda, F. Mackay, K. Menon, & R. Sen. New Delhi: Zubaan,

Wilks, L. 2020. ‘Gender and domestic work in India’. In Handbook on Gender in Asia, edited by S. Huang and K. N. Ruwanpura, 236–51. International Handbooks on Gender. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing,

Book reviews:

Wilks, L. 2017. 'Book review: S. Sen and N. Sengupta, 2016. Domestic days: Women, work, and politics in contemporary Kolkata (New Delhi: Oxford University Press)', Contemporary South Asia, 25 (1): 110-111, 

Wilks, L. 2016. 'Book review: S. P. Shah, 2014. Street corner secrets: Sex, work, and migration in the city of Mumbai (Durham: Duke University Press)', Sociology, 50 (4): 825-829,

Media publications:

Dey, J. & L. Wilks. 2015. ‘The Indian elite has a toilet problem it doesn’t want to see,’ The Wire, 2 December, 

Wilks, L. 2015. ‘India’s domestic workers need a break,’ The Guardian, 10 June,

Wilks, L., for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. 2014. ‘World Cup 2014: Is Brazil’s sex industry crackdown a threat to human rights?’ The Guardian, 14 February,

Wilks, L., for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. 2013. ‘Brothel raids endanger Rio’s sex workers,’ The Huffington Post, 4 December,