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Dr Nithya Natarajan
Nithya Natarajan

Dr Nithya Natarajan

  • Academics

Lecturer in International Development

Research subject areas

  • International development
  • Environment
  • Equality
  • Employment

Contact details


Dr Nithya Natarajan is a Lecturer in International Development. Her work focuses on South India and Cambodia, and explores agrarian change, rural-urban livelihoods, labour precarity, gender and debt.

She completed an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded PhD at SOAS, University of London, and a postdoctoral research position at Royal Holloway as part of the ESRC-Department for International Development (DfID)-funded ‘Blood Bricks’ research project.

Nithya is a co-investigator on the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)-funded project ‘Depleted by debt? Focusing a gendered lens on climate, credit and nutrition in translocal Cambodia and South India.’

Her work features in a range of journal articles, book chapters and edited volumes. She has also engaged with policy and activist outputs in disseminating her research, notably in Open Democracy, through a Home Affairs Select Committee submission regarding the UK Modern Slavery Act. Additionally, she is part of a team working to submit a petition to the United Nations Business and Human Rights Working Group with regard to her work on the Cambodian construction sector.

She also has extensive teaching experience, having taught in the Development Studies and Politics and International Studies departments at SOAS, University of London and in the Department of Geography, King’s College London prior to joining in the Department of International Development.


  • Agrarian change
  • Climatic and environmental change
  • Rural-urban livelihood transition
  • Gender and social reproduction
  • Changing state dynamics
  • Labour relations and precarity
  • India and Cambodia

Nithya's research focuses on three key areas:

1) Rural livelihoods and Agrarian change, for which she researches rural communities in South India and Cambodia that are experiencing agrarian decline. She focuses, in particular, on the role of climate change, state political economy and social relations in exploring how and why the shift away from agriculture takes place, and the lived experiences of rural communities. She also explores how change is differentiated along lines of caste, class and gender.

2) Livelihood and reproductive strategies amongst rural households, for which she researches the different strategies that rural households are taking to reproduce themselves day-to-day in light of waning agricultural incomes, and retrenched state support.

3) Debt, gender and social reproduction: most recently, she focuses on the gendered dynamics of debt-taking in rural households in Cambodia and South India, in contexts of climate disasters.



  • 7YYD0024 Project Management in International Development

PhD supervision

Nithya would be happy to supervise students in any of the following areas:

  • Agrarian change, farming and rural labour
  • Precarity, debt-bondage and rural-urban labour migration
  • Debt and livelihoods
  • Social reproduction in rural households

 Further details

See Nithya's research profile