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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Radhika Govinda

Radhika Govinda
Dr Radhika Govinda
Senior Lecturer in Sociology
6.21 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44(0)131 650 3906
Research Interests
Feminism, Intersectionality, Gender politics of development, Decoloniality, Knowledge production, Women's and social movements, Postcolonial state and masculinities, South Asia

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • By appointment, Tuesday 11-1


I am Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh. I have an MA from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), France and a PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK.  Prior to joining the University of Edinburgh, I held a Lectureship in Gender Studies at Ambedkar University Delhi, India.

At Edinburgh, I sit on the steering committees for the University's GenderED and RACE.ED networks. I am Associate Director of CRITIQUE, and an active member of the Centre for South Asian Studies.

In 2019-20, I was nominated from SPS in the CAHSS Colleague Recognition Awards in two categories: Inspiring Colleague, and Leader of Innovation and Change.


My broad research interests are:

  • women's and social movements
  • gender politics of development
  • identity politics and intersectionality
  • feminist, decolonial and critical pedagogies
  • masculinities and the postcolonial state
  • study of South Asian societies

My research bridges the fields of sociology of gender, international development and South Asian studies. My work demonstrates the importance of understanding gender politics at the intersections of caste, class, race/ethnicity and religion in women’s and social movements, in development policies and practice, in everyday social relations in rural and urban spaces, and in the global dynamics of knowledge production.

The three broad foci of my current research are: (A) women’s agency and activism, (B) gender politics, development and urban social change, and (C) intersectionality and decentring northern hegemony in knowledge production.

Current Research and Knowledge Exchange Grants

I am Primary Investigator on an international project, Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives: Questions of Identity, Pedagogy and Violence in India and the UK (2017-2020), which is funded by the UK-India Educational Research Initiative of the British Council. This is a North-South collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, UK and Ambedkar University Delhi, India. It explore successes, challenges, continuities and disjunctures that feminists encounter in the academy.

I am Co-investigator on a knowledge exchange initiative, Education for climate justice: Centring social justice amidst demands to prioritise the climate crisis in education, which is funded by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute. This is a collaboration involving colleagues from the University of Edinburgh and University of St Andrews.


I am passionate about teaching. Much of my teaching is closely connected with my research, and is focused on intersectionality and on gender in the Global South.

I teach on:

Understanding Gender in the Contemporary World

Gender and Development (course organiser)

Gender, Marginality and Social Change (course organiser)

South Asia: Culture, Politics and Economy

Researching Global Social Change

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

In 2019-20, I was nominated for the EUSA Teaching Award in the category, Outstanding Commitment to Liberation in the Curriculum. The students who nominated me said:

“Radhika has taught me in two courses in my time at university, and these have been my favourite and most worthwhile courses taken. She created classes that are important by including contemporary and diverse examples, especially of her own work in India. These classes have changed my world view and encouraged me to make more effort to be inclusive in other courses and all aspects of my life. I think her work is really important and we need more of it at the University of Edinburgh.”
“Radhika consistently challenges students to engage with our own privilege and positionally both inside and outside of the classroom. She encourages a critical and intersectional understanding of the world and helps us see power operating inside and outside of the academy. Through reading and studying scholars from the Global South and engaging academically with decolonisation, Radhika’s courses actively decolonise our reading lists and our university at large. She is inclusive and approachable while continually challenging her students.”


Books and special issues

I am currently working on a monograph on Intersectionality, Feminist Politics and Knowledge Production (under contract with Routledge).
R. Govinda, F. Mackay, K. Menon and R. Sen (eds.) (2020) Doing Feminisms in the Academy: Identity, Institutional Pedagogy and Critical Classrooms in India and the UK, New Delhi and Chicago: Zubaan Publications and The University of Chicago Press.
K. Choudhary, C. Wayland and R. Govinda (eds.) (2020) Feminist Struggles in the Academy in India and the UK. Comic book publication inspired by UGC-UKIERI funded Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives Project (2017-2020) workshops, roundtables and panel discussions, with illustrations by S. Khan and S. Singh.
Govinda, R. (ed.) (2013) South Asia Multi-disciplinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ) (online): Special Issue on Delhi's Margins. See my introduction: 'Delhi's Margins: Changing Spaces, Identities and Governmentalities'
Peer reviewed journal articles

Govinda, R. (2019) 'From the taxi drivers' rear-view mirror: masculinity, marginality and sexual violence in India's capital city, Delhi', Gender, Place and Culture, 27(1): 69-85

Govinda, R. (2013) '"First Our Fields, Now Our Women" Gender Politics in Delhi's Urban Villages in Transition', South Asia Multi-disciplinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ) (online)

Govinda, R. (2013) '"Didi are you Hindu?" Politics of Secularism in Women's Activism in India', Modern Asian Studies, 47 (2): 612-51

Govinda, R. (2012) 'Mapping "Gender Evaluation" in South Asia', Indian Journal of Gender Studies 19 (2): 187-209

Govinda, R. (2009) 'In the Name of "Poor and Marginalised"? Politics of NGO Activism with Dalit Women in Rural North India', Journal of South Asian Development, 4 (1): 45-64

Govinda, R. (2008) 'Re-inventing Dalit Women's Identity? Dynamics of Social Activism and Electoral Politics in Rural North India', Contemporary South Asia (BASAS 5th Annual Issue), 16 (4): 427-440

Govinda, R. (2006) 'Politics of the Marginalized: Dalits in Women's Activism in India', invited article, Gender and Development, 13 (2): 181-90

Peer reviewed book chapters

Govinda, R. (2020) ‘Fifty Years of Doing Feminisms in the Academy – Where Do We Stand? Reflections from Britain’, in R. Govinda, F. Mackay, K. Menon and R. Sen (eds.), Doing Feminisms in the Academy: Identity, Institutional Pedagogy and Critical Classrooms in India and the UK, New Delhi and Chicago: Zubaan Publications and The University of Chicago Press.

Govinda, R. (2020) ‘Decolonising Feminist Classrooms’, in R. Govinda, F. Mackay, K. Menon and R. Sen (eds.), Doing Feminisms in the Academy, New Delhi and Chicago: Zubaan Publications and The University of Chicago Press.

Govinda, R. (2017) 'Different Dalit Women Speak Differently: Unravelling through an Intersectional Lens, Narratives of Agency and Activism from Everyday Life in Rural Uttar Pradesh', in S. Anandhi and K. Kapadia (eds.), Dalit Women: Vanguard Of An Alternative Politics In India, New Delhi: Routledge.

Govinda, R. (2014) 'On Whose Behalf? Women's Activism and Identity Politics in Contemporary Uttar Pradesh', in R. Jeffery, J. Lerche and C. Jeffrey (eds.), Uttar Pradesh: Development Failure and Identity Politics, New Delhi: Sage.

Ramachandran, V., K. Jandhyala and R. Govinda (2012) 'Introduction', in V. Ramachandran and K. Jandhyala (eds.), Cartographies of Empowerment: The Story of Mahila Samakhya, 1988-2008, New Delhi, Zubaan.

Govinda, R. (2012) 'The politics of being and becoming', in A. Sekhar (ed.), Closer to Ourselves: Stories from the Journey to Peace in South Asia, New Delhi: Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace (WISCOMP).

Book reviews

Govinda, R. (2015) Book review of Marie-Caroline Saglio-Yatzimirsky's Dharavi, From Mega-Slum to Urban Paradigm (New Delhi and Abingdon: Routledge), South Asia Multi-disciplinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ) (online)

Govinda, R. (2009) Book review of Handy et al.'s Grassroots NGOs by Women for Women: The Driving Force of Development in India (Sage, New Delhi: 2006), Contemporary South Asia, 17 (2).

Govinda, R. (2008) Book review of Badri Narayan's Women Heroes and Dalit Assertion in North India. Culture, Identity and Politics (Sage, New Delhi: 2006), Contemporary South Asia, 16 (3).

Govinda, R. (2007) Book review of Shah et al.’s Untouchability in India (Sage, New Delhi: 2006),, an initiative of International Institute of Asian Studies, Netherlands.

Blog posts

Govinda, R. (2020) The Rainbow Series: Artwork and Emotions in the time of Covid-19, Edinburgh Decameron: Lockdown Sociology at Work, 23-31 July.

Govinda, R. (2020) Everyday Musings of a Child Growing Up in Pandemic Times, The Sociological Review's Solidarity and Care Blog, 25 June.
C. Wayland, K. Choudhary and R. Govinda (2019) Gender-based violence: a glimpse of feminist dilemmas in the academy 16 Days Blogathon, 7 December.

Govinda, R. (2018) 'Bad Girls', Everyday Sexism and Activist Campaigns in Millennial India, 16 Days Blogathon, 30 November.

Recorded Talks and Podcasts

Govinda, R. (2020) Reflections on Intersectionality and Decoloniality, RACE.ED Launch Event on Collective and Creative Pedagogy, University of Edinburgh, UK.

Govinda, R. (2019) ‘“Mirror Mirror on the Wall...” The Promise and Perils of Decolonising Feminist Classrooms’ Decolonising Feminist Knowledge Workshop, Unviersity of Edinburgh, UK.

Govinda, R. (2019) Keynote on ‘Interrogating Intersectionality and Feminist Knowledge’, Equality and Intersectionality Multi-Sector Conference, Equality Network and University of Edinburgh, UK.

PhD Supervision

I welcome the opportunity to supervise research on issues of gender and development, identity politics and and women's activism in the Global South, especially though not exclusively focused on South Asia, and on decolonising (feminist) knowledge production.

I am currently supervising research on the following topics:
- Intersectional masculinities in postcolonial Singapore (Aerin Lai, Sociology)
- Romani women, intersectionality and knowledge production in Poland (Marta Kowalewska, Sociology, ESRC 1+3 Scholarship)

- Intersectional critique of contemporary normative political theory (Cat Wayland, PIR, ESRC 1+3 Scholarship)
- Women's education and empowerment in post-genocide Rwanda (Sangwon Park, International Development)
- Everyday lives of Tamil Brahmin women, South India (Sambhavi Ganesh, South Asian Studies, Graduate School Studentship Award and School International Award)
- Afghan refugee women, intersectionality and informal labour in Delhi, India (Kanak Rajadhyaksha, International Development, College Research Award PhD Studentship)
- Return migrantion, resettlement and gated communities in Bangalore, South India (Mini Chandran Kurian, Sociology)
- Solar power, agriculture and sustainability in rural Western India (Kamya Choudhary, Internatioal Development, Perfect Storm Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship)
- Forest conservation, adivasis and the construction of environmental subjects in North-Eastern India (Shubhi Sharma, Sociology)
- Sugar and development in Malawi's Lower Shire Valley (Megan Harrington, International Development, The Chrystal Macmillan PhD Studentship)

If you are interested in being supervised by Radhika Govinda, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in South Asian Studies; PhD in Sociology; PhD in International Development; MSc (R) Sociology; MSc (R) Socio-Cultural Studies; MSc (R) in South Asian Studies