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


Navtej has 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 University. Navtej is an inter-disciplinary social scientist whose broad focus is on the political sociology of South Asia. Her research interests and publications span a range of disciplines. methodologies and methods. She focuses on the dialectical relationship between the political and the social.

Navtej has a strong interest in gender, structural violence, social change and the on-going bordering processes across the region of South Asia. One project, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under the Religion and Society programme, has culminated in a body of publications including a jointly authored monograph Beyond Religion in India and Pakistan: Gender and Caste, Borders and Boundaries (Bloomsbury, 2019). The book excavates an approach to understanding how what appears to be religion is often reflective of social and political forms of hegemony, resistance and transgression. Navtej has done extensive field research in the region of Punjab spanning India and Pakistan where gender and caste frame social structures through patriarchy, caste ideology and evolving forms of feudalism. 

She is the lead (along with colleagues at TISS Mumbai) on a UKIERI network grant in collaboration between SOAS and three Indian universities. She has an interest in feminist politics and has published and taught on topics relating to the violences and exclusions of gender in South Asia including reproductive rights and education in the context of neoliberal 'development' and governmentality. 

She is a member of the Feminist Review Collective and is committed to non-Eurocentric/decolonial feminist praxis in teaching and research.

Navtej was Visiting Chair in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney, Australia in 2019.


Programmes Convened
Modules Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Anisha Thomas, The Erasure of 'Normal' Violence in the Production of Rape as a Crisis
  • 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
  • Sreya Banerjea, 'Ladki Paraya Dhan Hoti Hai' (Girls are Others' Property')



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 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 K. (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.


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, pp 1-18.

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 K. 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 K. (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 K. 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.

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

Purewal, Navtej and Dingli, Sophia, (eds.), (2018) Gendering (In)security in Contemporary States of Exception. Palgrave-Macmillan. (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 Gill, Manpreet (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 Singh, (ed.), Sikhism. Dordrecht: Springer.

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

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


Purewal, Navtej K. (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, 17th February 2020, 02:33 Europe/London.