Skip to main content
Humaira Chowdhury

Dr Humaira Chowdhury

Research Associate

Research interests

  • History
  • Sociology


Dr Humaira Chowdhury is a Research Associate at the King’s India Institute, working on the ongoing Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project, ‘Enablers and Obstacles to UK-India Trade: Banks and Diasporas’. Before joining King’s, Humaira received her MPhil in Modern South Asian History and PhD in History from the University of Cambridge.

She also has a background in Sociology and Social Policy. Between 2013-2016, Humaira worked on a number of interdisciplinary developmental projects in India exploring themes such as contraceptive use among Muslim women in Kolkata; learning disabilities among young girls in West Bengal, Orrisa, and Jharkhand; and an ethnographic study of Muslim fishing communities in the Sundarbans archipelago.


  • Artisan-labour histories
  • Trade and diaspora
  • Migration/immobility
  • Muslim lives in South Asia

Humaira's PhD thesis brought together two bodies of scholarship on immobility and artisan capitalism; focusing on Darzis (Muslim tailors) and Dawoodi Bohra merchants who stayed on in Calcutta between 1890 and 1967.

They are shown to be resilient survivors rather than passive victims of ghettoisation and state control. Without undermining the real predicament of immobility – entrenched poverty, physical frailty, obligations of care-work, communal intimidation and state antipathy – this thesis demonstrates how some Muslim tailors used their ‘immobility capital’, a combination of assets embedded in place, in order to stay on and even thrive in constrained contexts.


‘Staying On and “Immobility Capital”: Muslim Tailors in post-partition Calcutta, 1947-1967’, in Ajaya K. Sahoo (ed.) Routledge Handbook of South Asian Migrations (forthcoming in 2023).

‘The Life and Times of Begum Qudsia Aizaz Rasul: An Exploration of Muslim Women’s Self-Fashioning in Postcolonial India’, The Journal of South Asian Studies Vol. 44, No. 2 (2021), pp. 264-281.


‘For those whose livelihoods are inextricably intertwined with water, the monsoon is both desired and cursed’, Water Series. South Asia Centre. London School of Economics (Co-authored with Dr Alexandra Aisbett)