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Dr Masooda Bano

University Research Lecturer

Masooda Bano’s primary area of interest rests in studying the role of ideas and beliefs in development processes and their evolution and change. Particular emphasis is on understanding the dynamic interplay between material and psycho-social incentives and the consequences of this for individual choices and collective development outcomes. Dr Bano builds large-scale comparative studies combining ethnographic and survey data. 

Her current project, supported by ESRC/AHRC Ideas and Beliefs Fellowship under the Global Uncertainties programme involving the seven UK Research Councils, explores the emergence and growth of female Islamic education movements across the Muslim world since the 1970s. This project draws on extensive fieldwork in Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. She is also leading a longitudinal study comparing the demand for secular versus Islamic education among teenage girls in Pakistan and Nigeria and the impact their respective education has on their psychological well-being and future economic opportunities. Previous work focused on the demand for madrasa education and Jihad in Pakistan and analysis of state attempts to modernize madrasas across South Asia, the Middle East and West Africa.

The other major area of her work is focused on studying the impact of development aid on community-based collective action.  Drawing on ethnographic and survey data, Dr Bano demonstrates that existing mechanisms of aid disbursement place a very heavy emphasis on material incentives leading to a ‘crowding out effect’ whereby the group members’ intrinsic motivation to undertake activity is gradually crowded out.

Dr Bano is currently advising on the largest ever education sector support programme rolled out by the UK's Department for International Development (DfID) in Nigeria, leading a number of studies to understand existing education choices in the northern states of Nigeria. She has also designed specific interventions to increase children’s access to primary education under this project. She has appeared for interviews on BBC World, the BBC World Service (English and Urdu), BBC Radio 4 and her research has featured in The Guardian (UK), The New York Times (USA), the ESRC website, Oxford University publications, and the Times Education Supplement.

Masooda Bano lectures on Research Methods and the core Development Studies course for the MPhil in Development Studies, supervises MPhil and DPhil theses and offers an option on Gender and Development. During the academic year 2009-10, she also taught a course on Islam and Democracy at SOAS.

ODID Research Students supervised

Books and Monographs

Bano, Masooda, H Kalmbach (eds) (2012) Women, Leadership and Mosques: Changes in Contemporary Islamic Authority, Leiden: Brill

Bano, Masooda (2012) Breakdown in Pakistan: How Aid is Eroding Institutions for Collective Action, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. (South Asia edition published by Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, 2013)

Bano, Masooda (2012) The Rational Believer: Choices and Decisions in the Madrasas of Pakistan, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. (South Asia edition published by Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, 2013)

Bano, Masooda, S Deneulin (2009) Religion in Development: Rewriting the Secular Script, Zed Books

Journal Articles and Special Issues

Bano, Masooda (forthcoming) 'Madrasa Reforms and Islamic Modernism in Bangladesh', Modern Asian Studies

Bano, Masooda (2012) 'Welfare Work and Politics of Jama'at-i-Islami in Pakistan and Bangladesh', Economic and Political Weekly XLVII (01)

Bano, Masooda (2011) 'Negotiating Collaboration in Pakistan: Expertise, Networks and Community Embeddedness', Public Administration and Development 31(4): 262-72

Bano, Masooda (2011) 'Co-Producing with FBOs: Lessons from State-Madrasa Engagement in the Middle East and South Asia', Third World Quarterly 32(7): 1273-89

Bano, Masooda (2010) 'Madrasas as Partners in Education Provision: The South Asian Experience', Development in Practice 20(4&5): 554-66

Bano, Masooda (2009) 'Empowering Women: More Than One Way?', Hagar: Special Issue on Critical Perspectives on Gender and Development 9(1)

Bano, Masooda (2008) 'Dangerous Correlations: Aid's Impact on NGO's Performance and Ability to Mobilize in Pakistan', World Development 36(11): 2297-313

Bano, Masooda (2008) 'Contested Claims: Public Perceptions and the Decision to Join NGOs in Pakistan', Journal of South Asian Development 3(1): 87-108

Bano, Masooda (2008) 'Non-profit Education Providers vis-a-vis the Private Sector: Comparative Analysis of NGOs and Traditional Voluntary Organisations in Pakistan', Compare 38(4)

Bano, Masooda (2007) 'Beyond Politics: the Reality of a Deobandi Madrasa in Pakistan', Journal of Islamic Studies 18(1): 43-68


Bano, Masooda (2012) 'Female Leadership in Mosques: An Evolving Narrative'. In M Bano, H Kalmbach (eds) Women, Leadership and Mosques: Changes in Contemporary Islamic Authority, Leiden: Brill

Bano, Masooda (2009) 'Pakistan's Security Predicament: Religion, Economics or Geopolitics?'. In V Mauer, D Cavelty (eds) Routledge Handbook of Security Studies, London: Routledge

Other Publications

Bano, Masooda (2009) 'Co-Production: Do FBOs Offer a Potential?', Non Governmental Public Action Research Programme Working Paper 41

Bano, Masooda (2008) 'Engaged yet Disengaged: Islamic Schools and the State in Kano, Nigeria', Religions and Development Research Programme Working Paper 29

Bano, Masooda (2008) 'Marker of Identity: Religious Parties and Welfare Work: The Case of Jama'at-i-Islami in Pakistan and Bangladesh', Religions and Development Research Programme Working Paper 34

Bano, Masooda (2007) 'Allowing for Diversity: State-Madrasa Relations in Bangladesh', Religions and Development Research Programme Working Paper 13

Bano, Masooda (2007) 'Contesting Ideologies and Struggle for Authority: State-Madrasa Engagement in Pakistan', Religions and Development Research Programme Working Paper 14


+44 (1865) 271924

Wolfson College

New institutional economics; informal institutions; religion and development; madrasas, Islamic political movements, and aid\'s impact on NGOs in the South

International Development: increasing well-being and reducing inequality in global society