School of Social and Political Science

Dr Lauren Wilks

Job Title

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

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Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

George Square

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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 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), Reframing agency in abusive contexts: beyond ‘free choice’ and ‘open resistance’

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

Research interests

Research interests

Work, labour, gender, mobility, inequality, family and personal relationships, gender-based violence, ethnography, qualitative research, feminist research

Lauren’s ESRC-funded PhD drew on sixteen months of ethnographic fieldwork to explore the everyday lives and journeys 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.

Projects and affiliations

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

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