Show/hide main menu

Academic profiles (A to Z)

Dr Prabha Kotiswaran

Dr Prabha Kotiswaran, The Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College LondonContact details:


Room: SW.2.06

Phone: 020 7848 2449







Dr Prabha Kotiswaran is Reader in Law and Social Justice at King's College London. She received her undergraduate law degree in India from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore and an LLM and SJD (doctorate) from Harvard Law School. She practiced law for four years at the New York law firm of Debevoise and Plimpton. Dr Kotiswaran’s main areas of research include criminal law, transnational criminal law, sociology of law, postcolonial theory and feminist legal theory. Her 2011 book Dangerous Sex, Invisible Labor: Sex Work and the Law in India (Princeton) won the 2012 SLSA-Hart Prize for Early Career Academics. Dr Kotiswaran has also edited Sex Work, published by Women Unlimited (2011) for a Series on Issues in Contemporary Indian Feminism. She co-edited with Amanda Perry-Kessaris and Diamond Ashiagbor, the 2013 special issue of the Journal of Law and Society and the 2014 special issue of the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, both on an Economic Sociology of Law. Dr. Kotiswaran’s work has received support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council; the Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School; the Hauser Institute for Civil Society, John F. Kennedy School, Harvard; the Journal of Law and Society; the King’s Policy Institute and the Leverhulme Trust.  In 2014, she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize and is on research leave from 2015 through 2018.  

Current projects focus on:  

Governance Feminism
A collaborative project with Janet Halley, Rachel Rebouché and Hila Shamir which critically assesses feminist successes in several arenas of domestic and international law reform. A co-authored book Governance Feminism: An Introduction and a co-edited volume Governance Feminism: A Handbook are both under contract with the University of Minnesota Press. 

Human Trafficking

An edited volume Revisiting the Law and Governance of Trafficking, Forced Labour and Modern Slavery is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Studies in Law and Society Series).

She is Senior Editor for Oxford Handbooks in Law Online, and on the Editorial Boards of the Canadian Journal of Law and Society and the Jindal Global Law Review, and is a Founding of the Open Democracy Blog Beyond Slavery and Trafficking. She is also on the Advisory Board of Work in Freedom, an ILO-DFID anti-trafficking initiative. She is Co-Convener (with Peer Zumbansen) of the Transnational Law Summer Institute (TLSI) held in June 2015 and June 2016.

Research interests

Dr Kotiswaran’s main areas of research include criminal law, feminist legal theory and sociology of law. 

Selected publications

Authored Books

Edited Books and Journal Issues
  • Revisiting the Law and Governance of Trafficking, Forced Labor and Modern Slavery (Cambridge University Press, in press)
  • Governance Feminism: A Handbook (with Janet Halley, Rachel Rebouché and Hila Shamir (Minnesota University Press, forthcoming)
  • Diamond Ashiagbor, Prabha Kotiswaran and Amanda Perry-Kessaris (eds.), Journal of Law and Society, 40 (1), Special Issue on Towards An Economic Sociology of Law, pp. 1–171 (2013)
  • Diamond Ashiagbor, Prabha Kotiswaran and Amanda Perry-Kessaris (eds.) Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 65(3) Special Issue on an Economic Sociology of Law, pp.259-355 (2014).
  • Sex Work, Kotiswaran, P. (ed.) 2011 New Delhi: Women Unlimited. (Issues in Contemporary Indian Feminism) 298pp. 

Book Chapters

  • Kotiswaran, Prabha (2014). "Feminist Approaches to Criminal Law" In Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law, edited by Markus Dubber and Tatjana Hoernle. Oxford: Oxford University Press pp.59-83
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha (2014). "Law, Sex Work and Activism in India" In Handbook on Gender in South Asia, edited by Leela Fernandes. Oxon and New York: Routledge, pp. 84-96.
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha (2011) ‘Introduction.’ In: Sex Work. New Delhi: Women Unlimited, pp. xi-lxii
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha (2007) ‘Wives and Whores: Prospects for a Feminist Theory of Redistribution.’ In: Stychin, Carl F. and Munro, Vanessa E., (eds.), Sexuality and the Law: Feminist Engagements. Oxon, New York: Routledge-Cavendish, pp. 283-302


  • Kotiswaran, Prabha and Palmer, Nicola (2015). Rethinking the ‘International Law of Crime’: Provocations from Transnational Legal Studies, Transnational Legal Theory 6(1)
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha (2015). Protocol at the Crossroads: Rethinking Anti-Trafficking Law from an Indian labour law perspective, Anti-Trafficking Review Issue 4, 33-55.
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha (2014). Beyond the Allures of Criminalization: Rethinking the Regulation of Sex Work in India. Special Issue of Criminology and Criminal Justice on The Governance of Commercial Sex: Global Trends of Criminalisation, Punitive Enforcement, Protection and Rights guest edited by Teela Sanders and Rosie Campbell, 14 (5): 565-579.
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha (2014). Beyond Sexual Humanitarianism: A Post-Colonial Approach to Anti-Trafficking Law, University of California Irvine Law Review 4 (1): 353-406.
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha (2014). "Abject Labors, Informal Markets: Revisiting the Law's (Re)Production Boundary", Employee Rights & Employment Law Journal 18 (1): 353-406
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha (2013). "'Sword or Shield?" The Role of the Law in the Indian Sex Workers' Movement'", for Special Issue of Interventions International Journal of Postcolonial Studies on "Emergent Sexual Formations in Contemporary India,"edited by Stephen Legg and Srila Roy 15(4): 530-548.
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha (2013) "‘Do Feminists Need an Economic Sociology of Law?’" Towards an Economic Sociology of Law, Special issue of Journal of Law and Society, edited by Diamond Ashiagbor, Prabha Kotiswaran and Amanda Perry-Kessaris, (40(1) 115-136.
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha (2010) 'Labours in Vice or Virtue? Neo-liberalism, Sexual Commerce, and the Case of Indian Bar Dancing' Journal of Law and Society 37 (1), 105-124.
Opinion Pieces
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha ‘Sex Slavery or Labor Exploitation: India's Need to Rethink Trafficking’, for India in Transition Series, online publication of the Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania, US, also published as an op-ed in the Business Line (India).
  • Kotiswaran, Prabha  A Battle Half-Won: India’s Trafficking Law, Op-ed in Economic & Political Weekly, Vol. XLVIII No. 17, April 27, 2013


Dr Kotiswaran also blogs for the Interdisciplinary Project on Human Trafficking and is a Contributing Editor to an Open Democracy Initiative Beyond Slavery and Trafficking

View full list of Dr Kotiswaran’s publications.



  • Criminal Law  
  • Jurisprudence
  • Law & Social Theory


  • Transnational Criminal Law (with Dr Nicola Palmer)
  • Sociology of Law. Legal Cultures & Transnational Challenges (with Professor David Nelken)

PhD supervision

Dr Kotiswaran welcomes PhD candidates working in the areas of criminal law, sociology of law and gender and the law.

  • Eva Klambauer, On the interdependent relationship between legal regulation of sex work and political mobilisation
  • Sasha Holden, Prohibitions on Polygamy in Immigration; the Implications for Refugee Women and their Human Rights
  • Anju Christine, Lingham Sexual Violence, Feminists, Communities and the Secular State in India.

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions Privacy policy Accessibility Modern slavery statement Contact us

© 2017 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454