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Current PhD Students

PhD Student Profiles

2016-17



Gopika Jadeja

Gopika JadejaI am at the King’s India Institute on a joint degree programme with the National University of Singapore. After a Masters in South Asian Studies at SOAS I spent several years teaching at schools in India and Singapore before beginning PhD and became interested in Peace studies in the classroom. From my growing interest in Gandhian thought I moved to collaborating on and convening a series of school-specific festival of the arts called ‘Talking Gandhi’.

I am working on dalit Literature in the western Indian state of Gujarat and questions of identity and nationhood. Around the world today governments and regimes are creating what Gyan Pandey calls a ‘monolingual order’, which does not recognise any other idea of nation and sovereignty except the one it ascribes to. This alienates and denies participation in the nation to minority and marginalised communities. My thesis focuses on dalit poetry in Gujarat that challenges the monolingual order created by a singular idea of India. I attempt to trace the forging of a Gujarati identity (a sub-national and regional identity) as well as the historical circumstances in which dalit literature (and particularly poetry, which was its first and I would say primary mode) in Gujarat emerged to contest this idea of Gujarat and Gujarati identity. I compare the trends in contemporaneous literature in Gujarati as the backdrop in literary history against which dalit poetry in Gujarat emerged.

My research interests include literatures from South Asia alongside world literatures, translation, orality and oral cultures, education, democracy and social movements.

I also publish andedit a print journal and a series of pamphlets for a performance-publishing project called Five Issues. I am also a poet and translator. I write in both English and Gujarati. My poetry and translations have been published in journals and magazines like Indian Literature, The Wolf, The Four Quarters Magazine, Asymptote, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, The Blue Lrya Review, Vahi, etc. Besides my thesis I am currently working on a project of English translations of poetry from Gujarat. 

Pradyumna Jairam

Prior to joining the India Institute, I graduated from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi with an M.Phil in International Relations in 2013, and a Masters in Modern and Contemporary Indian History from the Centre For Historical Studies at the same university in 2011. I completed my undergraduation in History from Ramjas College, University of Delhi in 2009.

I also worked as a History Teacher at the Shri Ram School, Gurgaon from 2012 to 2015, following which i taught the same subject along with Political Science at the Vasant Valley School, Delhi. I also worked as a debate and public speaking trainer to students at both schools during my teaching duration.

My current research project explores the link between History Textbooks and the construction of National Identity in India. The PhD aims to contextualize this broad framework into a study of Haryana, a state in North India, where I aim to look at how identities are constructed in History Textbooks for secondary school students in the state. It will involve a comparative study of how various governments have sought to write the history of the state, using different variables. In addition, i will be conducting an ethnographic study of two schools, one private and one public to gauge teacher-student relations, methods of pedagogy, classroom decoration etc and present a comparative analysis. 

In addition, my research interests include - Education and Nationalism, Hindu Nationalism, Contemporary Indian History,  South and West Asian Politics, the role of Football rivlaries in the construction of local and national identities.

Sudhir Selvaraj

I joined the King’s India Institute in 2016 to commence my research project on the violence against Christians in India. I completed my master’s (with distinction) in International Relations from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London where my dissertation focused on Sino-American relations. Prior to this, I completed my undergraduate degree (cum laude) from Concordia College in Minnesota, U.S. with double majors in Political Science and Global Studies with a minor in Business. 

I have worked and travelled extensively in India with NGOs, think tanks and international research projects. I am also a playwright focusing my scripts on conflicts in South Asia. My play ‘We All live in Bhopal’ has been performed in India, the US, and the UK.

I also explore story-telling across other media. I have refined these skills through internships with the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, University of Notthingham and the Department of War Studies at King's College London.
My research project focuses on the impact that Hindu Nationalism has had on the rise of violence against Christians in India since the late 1990s. In addition to my research, I have active academic interests in US domestic and foreign policy, and international security (particularly the South Asian region). 

2015-16

Rahul Advani

Rahul AdvaniI joined the King’s India Institute in 2015 after working at the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore.

My current research interests in youth and social media were deepened during my time at the Institute of South Asian Studies where I was involved in leading a project examining the political aspirations and social attitudes of youth in India in collaboration with Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Madras Institute of Development Studies and the Asian Development Research Institute. Prior to this, I completed my Masters in Contemporary India at the University of Oxford and a Bachelors in Law at the University of Warwick.

Following the completion of my Bachelors degree, I worked at the Centre for Human Rights in Practice at the University of Warwick on a project to analyse the impact of international trade on human rights in developing countries. The project was published as a report for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. My Masters Thesis examined honour killings and other forms of violence against inter-caste couples in India from a legal perspective by presenting how formal and customary law have enabled caste panchayats to prosecute inter-caste relationships.

My doctoral research examines the possibilities offered by social networking sites for friendship among young Indians in a north Indian city by focusing on how online friendship mediates offline practices of friendship and what meanings are inserted by the simultaneous practice of online and offline friendship into the concept of friendship. This project is located within India’s rapidly growing social media landscape - India is expected to provide Facebook with its largest market by 2016 with those aged between 15 and 24 making up the platform’s largest user base. In exploring the significance of 24/7 internet access in a Tier-2 city for the friendship practices and aspirations of youth re-locating from rural and peri-urban areas for the purposes of pursuing higher education, my research seeks to contribute to the literatures on youth, mobility, friendship and the internet. 

Saawani Raje

Saawani RajeI joined King’s School of Social Sciences and Public Policy for my PhD in 2015 as a King’s India Scholar, prior to which I completed an MA with distinction in South Asia and Global Security at the King’s War Studies department, and a BA (Hons.) in Human, Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge.

Having always been interested in conflict studies and crisis management, my undergraduate research focused on the India-China border conflict. This interest further deepened during my MA research, which asked whether India had a consistent approach in crisis management. My experience working for the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi for a year provided me with valuable experience in the field of foreign policy as well as giving me archival experience. 

Currently, my PhD research focuses on civil-military relations in India. I seek to examine the evolution of civil-military relations in India primarily through the prism of decision-making during wars that India has been involved in since independence. I will rely primarily on archival material as well as interviews with elite civilian and military decision-makers in order to conduct my inquiry into this field.

In addition to my PhD focus, my research interests also include conflict studies, diplomacy, international relations, Indian foreign policy and South Asian security.

2014-15

Ankita Banerjee

Ankita BanerjiA graduate in Political Science from St Xavier's College, Kolkata, I received my Master's degree from the Centre for Political Studies, Jawahrlal Nehru University, New Delhi. My MPhil research, also from the Centre for Political Studies, was on 'Reclaiming Freedom: A Critical Analysis of Rabindranatah Tagore's Ideas on Education'.  

I am very interested in issues arsing in the domain of modern Indian political thought and intellectual history, with special reference to political ideas in Bengal. My research interests concern the methodological challenges of reading texts and analysing their socio-historical predicaments, looking into their relevance in the current global scenario. 

As a postgraduate student at the King's India Institute on the Tagore Centre PhD scholarship, I will be pursuing my doctoral research on the conceptal underpinnings of the 'self' in Tagore's writings, and also interrogate and explore how the concept of freedom is given meaning to or defined by the individual/self in the face of societal and masculine diktats which help in the shaping of human personalities.

Prerna Bhardwaj

Prerna Bhardwaj

I have degrees in Philosophy from the University of Delhi, and my MPhil dissertation was entitled 'Ethics of Modernity: A Nietzschean Critique'. I have also lectured on Ethics, Early Greek, and social and Political philosophy to undergraduates in the University of Delhi.

In my research, I am interested in the origins of modernity and concepts of the self, freedom, religion, and their interrelationship. I am esepcially interested in in developing a methodology for comparative philosophy that focuses on dialectics rather than the dualism of tradition and modernity. 

My doctoral research will explore the philosophical underpinnings of the concept of the self in modern Indian thought. It will attempt to reinterpret the contribution of modern Indian thinkers to the discursive formation of the self through their intricate engagement with the categories of reason, morality, religion, body, and freedom. It will also examine the interconnections and contradictions in their ideas of the self, and explore  if mutual debates may be constructed between them. categories of citizenship, rights, obligations towards others and the like will also form part of this investigation. 

Rosheen Kabraji

I joined the India Institute as a PhD candidate in 2014. My doctoral research focuses on the dynamics of citizenship and the politics of assertion in the post-colonial megacity, specifically Karachi and Mumbai. Prior to this I worked as the Assistant Head and a Research Associate at the Asia Programme at Chatham House and at the International Institute for Environment and Development. 

My research interests and expertise includes South Asian foreign policy, identity and conflict in urban spaces, governance in India and Pakistan, and China-Pakistan relations. I have an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge and a BSc in Anthropology from the University College London. 

 

2013-14

Debanjali Biswas

A psychology graduate from Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College for Women, I received my MA and M.Phil from the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, with a specialization in performance studies. I read social anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies on a Felix Scholarship in 2009-10. I was awarded a graduate fellowship by the Smithsonian Institution to pursue an intense study on the relation of space-material-performer in ritual dances at National Museum of Natural History. My research interests are in anthropology of performance, dance studies, gender in performance, politics in performance processes and cultural histories of Manipur and Bengal.

I join the India Institute as a Commonwealth Scholar. For my doctoral research, I concentrate on the existing dilemmas and growing challenges in community performances in Manipur. This research will address the many contested ways in which ‘Manipuri’ is socio-culturally perceived, represented and politically negotiated. Based on a thorough empirical research, I focus on dance’s role in conflict, intervention and identity construction in Manipur.

Sarah McKeever 

I joined the King’s India Institute in September 2013 after earning my Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Chicago and my Masters in Contemporary India at the University of Oxford. My research interests in India are wide-ranging, but focused on modern Indian political movements, development, and foreign policy. As an undergraduate, I studied in Pune for three months on a Study Abroad program; after my undergraduate degree, I was awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship, and lived in New Delhi for nine months working as an English language teacher in a public school. Later, I worked as a Research Assistant at the American Foreign Policy Council (on Indo-Sino relations) and at the International Institute of Education in Washington, DC.  

My current research interests are focused on Indian political and social activist movements and the potential impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). My MSc dissertation analysed ICT and its interplay with communal riots, focusing on the riots in Assam in 2012 and the role of new communication networks in transmitting communal discourse. My doctoral research will examine two recent social movements: the anti-corruption movement in 2011 and the Delhi-rape case in 2012. Both movements mobilised citizens through mass SMS-texts and the use of social media, and are similar in their attempts to hold the government accountable for the delivery of public goods. This project is located at the intersection of Indian political movements and new forms of political mobilisation and activism, the emergence of ICT as changing method of communication, and shifting the field of civic and political engagement to issue-driven politics.

Sarayu Natarajan

For my doctoral research at the King’s India Institute I am investigating brokerage among the urban poor and the role it plays in influencing electoral outcomes. My work is based in Bengaluru. 

I have a graduate degree from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and a BA, LL.B. (Hons.) from the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore. I have worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, and in the investing/programmatic teams of Elevar Equity Fund and Gray Matters Capital. In the summer of 2012 I taught an elective seminar to final year law students at NLSIU.

Meenakshi Sinha

Meenakshi SinhaBefore joining King’s India Institute as a PhD scholar in 2013, I did my Bachelor’s in Sociology from University of Delhi and further went on to pursue Master’s in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. My research interests revolve around political economy, especially the challenges and concerns that arise as the political machinery tries to address the issues of economic growth and social welfare. My doctoral study investigates the role of the state in formulation and implementation of land use policies, using a comparative analysis of two subnational units, specifically Karnataka and Kerala.

Email: meenakshi.sinha@kcl.ac.uk

Abin Thomas

At King’s India Institute, I look forward to engage with the debates on death, especially euthanasia and suicide, and connect it to the notion of agency with post-secular human rights discourse. The focus of my research is the interaction between the state and the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church on the politics of death in Kerala. This project germinated from my M. Phil dissertation in the Department of Political Science at the University of Delhi. I possess a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Hyderabad, and a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam. I am a volunteer with the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), Cochin, since 2007, where I have been part of policy research for this think tank.  

My research interests include Democracy, Religion and Political Thought; Theories of Secularization; Post-secular Debates; Human Rights and Bioethics; and Public Policy and Education. 

2012-13

Saheli Datta

Saheli DattaPrior to joining the PhD program, I completed MSc with Distinction from King's School of Social Science and Public Policy and a BA in Economics from Columbia University, New York. My research explores the evolving landscape of transnational governance in the politicised global bio-economy, and is being conducted as part of the ESRC-funded Rising Powers Research at King’s Department of Political Economy.

Currently, my research focuses on understanding the dynamics between transnational institutions and the political economy of emerging national bio-innovation systems in the cutting edge research area of regenerative medicine. I will be specifically looking to identify and reflect on the policy issues faced by the governments of India and China as they seek to engage with the complex global value chain of innovation in the life sciences where inter-state cooperation is an increasingly prominent feature. 

For further information about my research, publications and teaching please click here.

James Hannah

I am a part-time research student at the King’s India Institute since  September 2012. My research focuses on the nature of the Indian state’s role in constructing an economic model on which India’s evolving role in the world depends. In this context I am looking at the relationship between central institutions and specific states (Gujarat and Karnataka), and the processes by which marketisation has been implemented in certain areas. I will be drawing upon the work of Karl Polanyi, author of The Great Transformation in this regard. 

I am currently working as a project manager at a European political foundation in London, and previously worked as the manager of an international politics-oriented research institute at London Metropolitan University. My interest in India began several years ago, looking at global politics, and I wrote my MA dissertation on the transformation of India since the end of the Cold War.  I have since begun to focus specifically on the internal realities that will influence external positioning, which brought me to do my PhD at the King’s India Institute. 

Email: james.hannah[at] kcl.ac.uk

Aasim Khan

I am a second year PhD student at the King’s India Institute. My research interests sit at the cross roads of international politics and processes of globalisation. I am particularly interested in the contemporary debates about ‘global governance’ of emerging IT and communications networks including the contentious negotiations over the Internet. 

For my doctoral research, I am studying India’s participation in major debates related to global governance of communications and analysing India’s international agenda relates to its domestic political context and how domestic narratives of 'liberalisation' and 'development' inform its position in the international arena.

My theoretical interests include qualitative methods in political science, theories of ‘learning’ in foreign policy processes, as well as issues relating to the political economy of media and communications in India. 

Before starting my PhD at the India Institute, I studied at St Stephen’s College, Delhi and School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London. In the intervening years I worked in broadcast journalism and international development in South Asia.

Email: aasim.khan [at] kcl.ac.uk

Raphaëlle Khan

I am a PhD candidate at the King’s India Institute, and my research – as of now --  focuses  on the evolution of India as a foreign policy actor through its approach to the concept and practice of multilateralism. I have a dual Master’s degree in European Studies from the LSE and Sciences Po Paris. Pursuing the thread of my final dissertation on the civil-society dimension in the EU-India Strategic Partnership, I  subsequently worked on a comparison between the European Union (EU)-India and the EU-China relations as a  Visiting  Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in Delhi, and  briefly interned at Tehelka.

My time in India changed several of my  perspectives. I decided to study further the changing world through an Indian lens, which led me to the King’s India Institute.   My research interests encompass foreign policy analysis, international relations in relation to emerging countries the concept of power, political philosophy, and, to a larger extent, the evolution of the EU and India as international actors and its underlying intellectual underpinnings.

Email: raphaelle.khan [at] kcl.ac.uk

Tharishini Krishnan

Tharishini KrishnanPrior to joining the King’s India Institute in March 2013, I did a BSc in International Relations at the National University of Malaysia (NUM) with a scholarship from the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia (MOHE). I also have an MSc in Strategic and Security Analysis from NUM. In February 2011, I joined the National Defence University of Malaysia (NDUM) as an Assistant Lecturer. My job scope was to assist senior lecturers in conducting lectures to junior military students on various subjects related to International Relations at an undergraduate level. As part of my career advancement, I later joined the PhD programme in King’s India Institute with a scholarship from MOHE and NDUM.

My interest in studying India’s interaction within the Southeast AsianRegion especially Malaysia, rooted from my background as a Malaysian of Indian origin. Hailing from a Defence University, I am interested in understanding India’s interaction vis-à-vis Malaysia from a maritime defence / security perspective as to how India interacts or can interact with smaller powers like Malaysia in shielding its maritime interest in the Indian Ocean Region. My research is expected to address how India shapes its maritime policy based on the size and role of states in the Indian Ocean Region.

Email: tharishini.krishnan [at] kcl.ac.uk

Vahit Kutluer

Vahit KutluerBefore joining the King’s India Institute in 2012, I completed a B.A. in Political Science and another B.A. in English Literature from Yeditepe University, Turkey in 2007. After a period of professional experience, I completed my M.A. in Global Political Economy at the University of Kassel, Germany as well as Development Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (as an Exchange Student), Mumbai between 2009-2011.  

My research focuses on the living conditions of the Muslim community in India. I have taken the Muslim community of Mumbai as my case study. I study their presence/absence in the sites of power. I also focus on the intra-community dynamics and try to understand to what extent the intra-community dynamics perpetuate inter-community exclusion of the community. The keywords of my research are social exclusion, mirror representation, institutional discrimination and urban marginality.

 Jean-Thomas Martelli

I joined the PhD programme at the India institute in 2012, and am currently studying contemporary social and organisational issues of youth in Indian universities. Before joining the King’s, I completed an MA in Political Science & International Relations at the Sciences Po (Aix-en-Provence, France) and a joint Erasmus Mundus Masters in Global Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (Delhi, India), Roskilde University (Roskilde, Denmark) and University of Wroclaw (Wroclaw, Poland). My research interests are in identity politics, social movements and qualitative research methods in general. The current project I am unraveling examines the processes through which certain students adopt activist behaviors in selected campuses.

Email: jean-thomas.martelli [at] kcl.ac.uk

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