SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Professor Navtej K Purewal

BA (Vassar College), MA (SOAS, London), PhD (Lancaster)
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Expertise
  • Publications


Navtej K Purewal
Department of Development Studies

Professor in Political Sociology and Development Studies

Centre for Gender Studies

Member, Centre for Gender Studies

SOAS South Asia Institute

Member, SOAS South Asia insitute

Professor Navtej K Purewal
Email address:
020 7898 4261
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
Wednesdays 12-2pm


All of my research has in some way been concerned with the dialectical relationship between the political and the social, with an interest in structures, policies and institutions which shape the field of ‘development’.

I have an interdisciplinary academic background, with a BA in Political Science from Vassar College, an MA in South Asia Area Studies from SOAS, and a PhD in Development Studies from Lancaster. I have done extensive field research in India and Pakistan, as well as the UK, in a number of research areas including gender and reproductive politics, religion and bordering processes in South Asia, structural violence, girls’ education, and neoliberal ‘development’ and governmentality.

My recent book Beyond Religion in India and Pakistan: Gender and Caste, Borders and Boundaries (Bloomsbury, 2019) outlines an approach to understanding social and political forms of hegemony in terms of how resistance and transgression are framed through subalternity. By focusing on the region of Punjab spanning India and Pakistan, the book highlights how gender and caste are not only the social structures through which patriarchy, caste ideology, feudalism, and majoritarianism are permeated, but they also inform how new forms and mobilisations of resistance are being shaped by women, Dalits and other subaltern voices.

I am committed to feminist, non-Eurocentric, decolonial praxis in teaching and research and am a member of the Feminist Review editorial collective. I am inclined to view ‘development’ as an assemblage of colossal histories of imperialism, inheritances of institutions complicit in perpetuating hegemonies, ongoing violences and inequalities, and skewed global power relations. I view Development Studies from this vantage point and still believe that critical development studies can be introspective while still work towards addressing systemic injustices through new visions, insights and strategies.

I am the convenor of the online MSc International Development programme, convene the on-campus module Contemporary India, co-convene the on-campus module Gender and Development, and teach on a number of on-campus Development Studies modules at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. In my ongoing support of area studies at SOAS in emphasising the importance of regional expertise and fluency, I have also contributed to the teaching of Punjabi language in the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics on a voluntary basis.

In 2019 I was Visiting Chair in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney, Australia. Before joining Development Studies at SOAS, I was Deputy Director of the SOAS South Asia Institute. Prior to that I was a Lecturer in Sociology and Development Studies at the University of Manchester. 


Programmes Convened
Modules Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Amrita DasGupta ,
  • Monika Hirmer, Becoming the Goddess: Study of a Contemporary South Indian Tantric Tradition and its Implications for Concepts of Personhood, Gender Relations and Everyday Life
  • Pooja (Jo) Krishnakumar , Social Space and the Sex Worker: Family, Networks and Collectivisation in the Indian Sex Workers' Movement (Working Title)



I will be teaching sessions on:


Political sociology; South Asia; gender and feminism; reproductive rights; abortion policy;  popular and politicised religion in Punjab (India and Pakistan); neoliberalism and social policy.


For help in contacting SOAS academics and advice on services to business and the community, please contact SOAS Enterprise on +44(0)20 7898 4837 or email
For all press and media enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7898 4135 or email

Available for
Regional Expertise
  • South Asia
Country Expertise
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Panjabi


Authored Books

Kalra, Virinder S. and Purewal, Navtej (2019) Beyond Religion in India and Pakistan: Gender and Caste Borders and Boundaries. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Kalra, Surjit S. and Purewal, Navtej and Tyson-Ward, S. (2016) Complete Punjabi. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Purewal, Navtej (2010) Son Preference: Sex Selection, Gender and Culture in South Asia. Oxford: Berg.

Purewal, Navtej (2000) Living on the Margins: Poverty, Social Access and Shelter in South Asia. Farnham: Ashgate.


Purewal, Navtej and Loh, Jennifer Ung (2021) 'Coloniality and Feminist Collusion: Breaking Free, Thinking Anew'. Feminist Review, (128) 1, pp 1-12.

Dingli, Sophia and Purewal, Navtej (2018) 'Gendering (In)Security: Interrogating security logics within states of exception'. Third World Thematics: A TWQ Journal, (3) 2, pp 153-163.

Purewal, Navtej (2018) 'Sex Selective Abortion, Neoliberal Patriarchy and Structural Violence in India'. Feminist Review, (119) 1, pp 20-38.

Wilson, Kalpana and Ung Loh, Jennifer and Purewal, Navtej (2018) 'Introduction: Gender, Violence, and the Neoliberal State in India'. Feminist Review, (119) 1, pp 1-6.

Purewal, Navtej and Jasani, Rubina (2017) 'South Asian women elders and everyday lives of ‘care in the community’ in Britain: the neoliberal turn in social care and the myth of the family'. South Asian Diaspora, (9) 2, pp 111-127.

Purewal, Navtej and Eklund, Lisa (2017) ''Gendercide,' Abortion Policy, and the Disciplining of Prenatal Sex-selection in Neoliberal Europe'. Global Public Health, (13) 6, pp 724-741.

Eklund, Lisa and Purewal, Navtej (2017) 'The Bio-Politics of Population Control and Sex Selective Abortion in China and India'. Feminism & Psychology, (27) 1, pp 34-55.

Purewal, Navtej and Kalra, Virinder S. (2016) 'Adaptation and Incorporation in Ritual Practices at the Golden Temple, Amritsar'. Journal of Ritual Studies, (30) 1, pp 75-87.

Purewal, Navtej (2015) 'Interrogating the Rights Discourse on Girls’ Education: Neo-Liberalism, Neo-Colonialism, and the Beijing Platform for Action'. IDS Bulletin, (46) 4, pp 47-53.

Purewal, Navtej and Hashmi, Naimatullah (2014) 'Between Returns and Respectability: Parental Attitudes towards Girls' Education in Rural Pakistan'. British Journal of Sociology of Education, (36) 7, pp 977-995.

Purewal, Navtej (2014) 'Disciplining the Sex Ratio:Exploring the Governmentality of Female Feticide in India'. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, (21) 5, pp 1-15.

Purewal, Navtej and Singh, Pritam (2013) 'The Resurgence of Bhindranwale’s Image in Contemporary Punjab'. Contemporary South Asia, (21) 2, pp 133-147.

Purewal, Navtej (2012) 'The Sound of Memory: Interview with Singer Mohinder K. Bhamra'. Feminist Review, (100).

Purewal, Navtej (2011) 'Sikh/Muslim Bhai-Bhai?: Towards a Social History of the Rabābī Tradition of Kirtan'. Sikh Formations, (7) 3, pp 365-382.

Purewal, Navtej and Kalra, Virinder S. (2010) 'Women’s ‘Popular’ Practices as Critique: Vernacular Religion in Indian and Pakistani Punjab'. Women's Studies International Forum, (33) 4, pp 383-389.

Purewal, Navtej (2006) 'Borderland Punjab'. Seminar: The Monthly Symposium.

Purewal, Navtej (2004) 'Sex Selection, ICTs and Feminist Internet-works'. Journal of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, (8) 1/2, pp 103-119.

Purewal, Navtej (2004) 'Paths to Housing Access for the Urban Poor in Amritsar'. Global Built Environment Review, (4) 2.

Purewal, Navtej (2003) 'The Indo-Pak Border: Displacements, Aggressions and Transgressions'. Contemporary South Asia, (12) 4, pp 539-556.

Purewal, Navtej (1997) 'Displaced Communities: Some Impacts of Partition on Poor Communities'. International Journal of Punjab Studies, (4) 1.

Edited Books or Journals

Ung Loh, Jennifer and Purewal, Navtej, (eds.), (2021) Coloniality. Feminist Review, Vol.128, no.1: Sage.

Purewal, Navtej and Dingli, Sophia, (eds.), (2018) Gendering (In)security in Contemporary States of Exception. Abingdon: Taylor and Francis. (Third World Thematics; Vol. 3 No. 2).

Purewal, Navtej and Wilson, Kalpana and Ung Loh, Jennifer and Brah, Avtar and Gill, Aisha, (eds.), (2018) Feminist Review – Volume 119, Issue 1 (July 2018): Gender, Violence and the Neoliberal State in India.. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Book Chapters

Purewal, Navtej and Eklund, Lisa (2022) 'Population Control and Sex Selective Abortion in China and India: A Feminist Critique of Criminalization'. In: Dawson, Myrna and Mobayed, Saide, (eds.), Routledge International Handbook on Femicide/Feminicide. Routledge. [Forthcoming]

Purewal, Navtej and Gill, Manpreet Kaur (2019) 'Flying High or Lying Low? The Moral Economy of Young Women in Higher Education in Punjab, India'. In: Sachdeva, Vivek and Pradhan, Queeny and Venugopalan, Anu, (eds.), Identities in South Asia: Conflicts and Assertions. London, UK: Routledge India.

Purewal, Navtej (2017) 'Pilgrimage: Sikhism'. In: Mandair, Arvind-pal, (ed.), Sikhism. Dordrecht: Springer.

Purewal, Navtej and Kamran, Tahir (2015) 'Pakistan's Religious Others: Reflections on the Minority Discourse on Christians in Punjab'. In: Long, Roger D. and Samad, Yunas and Singh, Gurharpal and Talbot, Ian, (eds.), State and Nation-building in Pakistan: Beyond Islam and Security. London: Routledge.

Purewal, Navtej and Lallie, Harjinder S. (2013) 'Sikh Kirtan in the Diaspora: Identity, Innovation and Revivalism'. In: Hawley, Michael, (ed.), The Sikh Diaspora: Theory, Agency, and Experience. Leiden: Brill Publishers, pp 381-403.

Kalra, Virinder S. and Ibad, Umber and Purewal, Navtej (2013) 'Diasporic Shrines: Transnational Networks linking South Asia through Pilgrimage and Welfare Development'. In: Yong, Tan Tai and Rahman, Md Mizanur, (eds.), Diaspora Engagement and Development in South Asia. Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillan.

Purewal, Navtej (2009) 'Postcolonial History: Butalia’s The Other Side of Silence'. In: Devine, Fiona and Heath, Sue, (eds.), Doing Social Science: Evidence and Methods in Empirical Research. Oxford: Palgrave Macmillan.

Purewal, Navtej (2009) 'Gender, Seva and Social Institutions: A Case Study of the Bebe Nanaki Gurdwara and Charitable Trust, Birmingham, U.K'. In: Dusenbery, Verne and Tatla, Darshan Singh, (eds.), Sikh Diaspora Philanthropy in Punjab: Global Giving for Local Good. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Purewal, Navtej (2008) 'Gender-Caste Intersectionality in the Experiences of the Partition for the Urban Poor of Amritsar'. In: Butalia, Urvashi, (ed.), A Sense of the Past: Women Writing on the Partition of India. New Delhi: Zubaan Press.

Purewal, Navtej and Patel, Tulsi (2004) 'Origins and Contours of the Population Debate: Inequality, Population Politics, and NGOs'. In: Romero, Mary and Margolis, Eric, (eds.), The Blackwell Companion on Social Inequalities. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Purewal, Navtej (2003) 'Re-producing South Asian Wom(b)en: Female Feticide and the Spectacle of Culture'. In: Puwar, N. and Raghuram, P., (eds.), South Asian Women in the Diaspora. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Purewal, Navtej (2002) 'Reproducing Inequality: Women, Population and Structural Adjustment'. In: Ortiz Rocha de Arago, Paolo and Glavanis, Pandeli, (eds.), Globalização e ajuste estrutural : impactos sócio-econômicos = Globalisation and Structural Adjustment: Social and Economic Impacts. João Pessoa, Brazil: Editora Universitaria, University of Paraiba.

Purewal, Navtej (2001) 'New Roots for Rights: Women's Voices amidst Population and Development Strategies'. In: Rowbotham, Sheila and Linkogle, Stephanie, (eds.), Women Resist Globalization: Movements for Livelihoods and Rights. London: Zed Books.

Kalra, Virinder S. and Purewal, Navtej (1999) 'The Strut of the Peacock: Partition, Travel and the Indo-Pak Border'. In: Hutnyk, John and Kaur, Raminder, (eds.), Travel-Worlds: Journeys in Contemporary Cultural Politics. London: Zed Books.

Book Reviews

Purewal, Navtej (2019) 'The politics of gender and development in neoliberal times'. Politics and Gender, (15) 3, pp 1-9.


Purewal, Navtej (2014) 'The Two Iron Ladies of 1984: Remembering the Postcoloniality of Operation Bluestar 30 Years on' Discover Society.

Purewal, Navtej (2014) 'Painting by Numbers: Locating Missing Girls in the Sex Ratio' Discover Society.

Purewal, Navtej (2014) 'Beyond the Spectacle of Malala: A Critique of the Bandwagon of Girls’ Education' Discover Society.


This list was last generated on Monday, 26th September 2022, 21:43 Europe/London.