Department of Development Studies

Professor Barbara Harriss-White

Key information

Department of Development Studies Professorial Research Associate
MA (Oxon), Dip.Ag.Sc. (Ag.Econ.) (Cantab), PhD


Barbara is the Director of Wolfson College’s South Asia Research Cluster and of Area Studies Research Project on the Materiality of India’s Informal Economy at Oxford University. She was the Founder-Director of Oxford University’s Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme in the School of Area Studies and organiser of the world’s first MSc in Contemporary India. She has written, edited or co-edited and published 40 books and major reports, published over 270 scholarly papers and chapters and over 100 working papers. Her book ‘Rural Commercial Capital’ won the Edgar Graham prize. She works on India’s political economy, in particular food and energy, and aspects of deprivation – all through field research. She is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies, Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, and a Professorial Research Associate at SOAS.


  • International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington
  • Governing Body Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford
  • Director of the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg
  • Oxford College representative for the Africa Medical Research and Education Foundation, AMREF

Research interests

Barbara Harriss-White's research interests have developed from the economics of agricultural markets to India's socially regulated capitalist economy and corporate capital; and from the malnutrition caused by markets to many other aspects of deprivation: notably poverty, gender bias and gender relations, health and disability, destitution and caste discrimination. She has a long term interest in agrarian change in S. India and has also tracked the economy of a market town there since 1972. 

Barbara has been a Trustee of ActionAid for many years and joined the Board of Trustees of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, in 2006. She is also a founder member of the British Academy’s South Asia Panel.

Personal web site: Barbara_Harriss-White and