Prof Nandini Gooptu

Associate Professor of South Asian Studies

Nandini Gooptu is Associate Professor of South Asian Studies at the Oxford Department of International Development and Fellow of St Antony's College. She is currently Associate Head of the Social Sciences Division for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. She was Head of Department between 2012 and 2016. She has been Senior Tutor, Sub Warden and Acting Warden at St Antony’s. Educated in Calcutta and at Cambridge, she previously held research fellowships and taught at St John’s College and Centre of South Asian Studies, Cambridge.

She is the author of The Politics of the Urban Poor in Early-Twentieth Century India(Cambridge University Press, 2001), editor of Enterprise Culture in Neoliberal India(Routledge, 2013), and joint-editor of India and the British Empire (Oxford University Press, Oxford History of the British Empire series, 2012) and Persistence of Poverty in India (Social Science Press, 2013 and Routledge, 2017). 

Trained as a social historian, her past research was on urban politics and poverty in colonial India. Her recent research is multidisciplinary and concerned with social and political transformation and cultural change in contemporary India in the wake of economic liberalisation and globalisation. She is currently researching new cultures of work in India and leading the India leg of an ESRC-funded project on urban transformation and gendered violence in India and South Africa, in collaboration with the Universities of Cambridge (lead institution) and Johannesburg. She has researched and published on a variety of subjects, including caste and religious politics, urban change and politics, poverty and labour, enterprise culture, skill development, media and politics, and social movement of sex workers.

She is the chair of the international advisory board and editorial board of Oxford Development Studies. She is a member of the editorial boards of Springer’s “Exploring Urban change in South Asia” book series and Anthem’s “Modern South Asian History” series. She was the editor of the “Diversity and Plurality in South Asia” book series of Anthem Press. 

Teaching & Supervision
Gendered violence and urban transformation in India and South Africa
New cultures of work in contemporary India
India's enterprise culture: social and political implications beyond the economy

For the MPhil in Development Studies, Nandini Gooptu lectures on the History and Politics foundation course, the Core Course and the Research Methods course. She offers a paper on the History and Politics of South Asia for the MPhils in Development Studies, Politics (Department of Politics and International Relations), and Modern South Asian Studies (Oxford Department of Global and Area Studies). She also teaches South Asian Politics for the undergraduate PPE degree course. She has previously been the Director of Graduate Studies in Development Studies, the Director of Doctoral Research in International Development and the Course Director and Chair of Examiners of the MPhil in Development Studies.

She has supervised over 40 doctoral students, including the current cohort, in the Departments of International Development, Politics, and Sociology, and in the Faculty of Modern History at Oxford. Her former students have gone on to take up academic appointments at major universities in the UK, India, USA and elsewhere.

She was the recipient of a University of Oxford Teaching Excellence Award, in 2008, for “Outstanding teaching and commitment to teaching”.

Research Students supervised

Aparna Agarwal
Research Student
Junko Asano
Research Student
Subham Basak
Research Student
Dhruva Bhat
Research Student
Abhishek Ranjan Datta
Research Student
Vyoma Dhar Sharma
Research Student
Taanya Kapoor
Research Student
Shivangi Kaushik
Research Student
Simiran Lalvani
Research Student
Sana Moyeen
Research Student

Books and monographs

Gooptu, Nandini (with Jonathan Parry) (2017) 'Persistence of Poverty in India', Delhi: Social Science Press and London: Routledge
Gooptu, Nandini (with D Peers) (eds) (2012) 'India and the British Empire', Oxford: Oxford University Press
Gooptu, Nandini (2006) 'Swami Acchutanand and the Adi Hindu movement', [Originally published as Chapter 5 of The Politics of the Urban Poor in Early Twentieth Century India] New Delhi: Critical Quest
Gooptu, Nandini (2001) 'The Politics of the Urban Poor in Early Twentieth-Century India', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Monograph)

Journal articles and special issues

Gooptu, Nandini (with Rangan Chakravarty) (2018) 'Skill, Work and Gendered Identity in Contemporary India: The Business of Delivering Home-Cooked Food for Domestic Consumption', Journal of South Asian Development 13 (3) 293-314
Gooptu, Nandini (2018) 'JSAD Special Issue on Skill Development in India', Journal of South Asian Development 13 (3) 241-48
Gooptu, Nandini (with Sneha Krishnan ) (2017) 'Tension', South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 40 (2) 404-06
Gooptu, Nandini (2009) 'Neoliberal Subjectivity, Enterprise Culture and New Workplaces: Organised Retail and Shopping Malls in India', Economic and Political Weekly 44 (22) 45-54; Reprinted in Pulapre Balakrishnan, Suhas Palshikar, and Nandini Sundar (eds), Reading India: Selections from Economic and Political Weekly, Volume III: 1991–2017 (2019)
Gooptu, Nandini (2007) 'Economic Liberalisation, Work and Democracy: Industrial Decline and the Urban Poor in Kolkata', Economic and Political Weekly 42(21) 1922-33
Gooptu, Nandini (with Nandinee Bandyopadhyay) (2007) ''Rights to Stop the Wrong': Cultural Change and Collective Mobilisation - The Case of Kolkata Sex Workers', Oxford Development Studies 35(3) 251-72
Gooptu, Nandini (1997) 'The Urban Poor and Militant Hinduism in Early Twentieth-century Uttar Pradesh', Modern Asian Studies 31(4) 879-918
Gooptu, Nandini (1996) 'Urban Poverty and the Politics of Caste and Religion in Early Twentieth Century North India: Implications for Development Practice and Research', Oxford Development Studies 24(3) 221-40
Gooptu, Nandini (1996) 'The 'Problem' of the Urban Poor: Policy and Discourse of Local Administration: A Study in Uttar Pradesh in the Interwar Period', Economic and Political Weekly 31(50) 3245-54


Gooptu, Nandini (2017) 'Religious myths retold: Masters and servants in India's corporate culture'. In Daromir Rudnyckyj, Filippo Osella (eds) Religion and the morality of the market , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Gooptu, Nandini (2016) 'Divided We Stand: The Indian City after Economic Liberalisation'. In Knut A Jacobsen (ed) Routledge Handbook of Contemporary India , London: Routledge
Gooptu, Nandini (2014) 'The Construction of Poverty and the Poor in Colonial and Post-colonial India: An Overview'. In Nandini Gooptu, Jonathan Parry (eds) Persistence of Poverty in India , Delhi: Social Science Press; Reprinted in Subas Mohapatra (ed) Society and Culture in India: A Reader (Delhi: Social Science Press, 2017)
Gooptu, Nandini (2013) 'New Spiritualism and the Micro-politics of Self-making in India's Enterprise Culture'. In N Gooptu (ed) Enterprise Culture in Neoliberal India: Studies in Youth, Class, Work and Media , London: Routledge
Gooptu, Nandini (with R Chakravarty) (2013) 'Reality TV in India and the Making of an Enterprising Housewife'. In N Gooptu (ed) Enterprise Culture in Neoliberal India: Studies in Youth, Class, Work and Media , London: Routledge
Gooptu, Nandini (2012) 'Understanding the Political Legacy of Colonialism'. In D Peers, N Gooptu (eds) India and the British Empire , Oxford: Oxford University Press
Gooptu, Nandini (2011) 'Economic Liberalization, Urban Politics and the Poor'. In S Ruparelia, S Reddy, J Harriss, S Corbridge (eds) Understanding India's New Political Economy: A Great Transformation? pp 35-48 , London, New York: Routledge
Gooptu, Nandini (2002) 'Sex Workers in Calcutta and the Dynamics of Collective Action: Political Activism, Community Identity and Group Behaviour'. In J Heyer, F Stewart, R Thorp (eds) Group Behaviour and Development: Is the Market Destroying Cooperation? pp 227-51 , Oxford: Oxford University Press
Gooptu, Nandini (with R Chakravarty) (2000) 'Imagi-Nation: The Media, Nation and Politics in Contemporary India'. In B Street, E Hallam (eds) Cultural Encounters: Communicating Otherness pp 89-107 , London: Routledge
Gooptu, Nandini (with B Harriss-White) (2000) 'Mapping India's World of Unorganised Labour'. In L Panitch, C Leys (eds) Working Classes, Global Realities: Socialist Register 2001 pp 89-118 , London: Merlin Press
Gooptu, Nandini (1993) 'Caste and Labour: Untouchable Social Movements in Urban Uttar Pradesh in the Early Twentieth Century'. In Peter Robb (ed) Dalit Movements and Meanings of Labour in India 227-98 , New Delhi: Oxford University Press; Reprinted in Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar (eds) Caste in Modern India: A Reader – Volume 2 (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2014)

Working papers

Gooptu, Nandini (2000) 'Sex Workers in Calcutta and the Dynamics of Collective Action: Political Activism, Community Identity and Group Behaviour', WIDER Working Papers Helsinki: WIDER United Nations University 185 (May)
12 May, 2023
Nandini Gooptu wins Teaching Excellence Award
04 April, 2022
Nandini Gooptu, Diego Sanchez-Ancochea appointed to Social Sciences Division leadership team
27 November, 2019
New research project awarded £1.76m to investigate determinants of violence against women
18 June, 2019
ODID academics to present at 2019 DSA conference
01 March, 2019
New special issue edited by Nandini Gooptu explores skill development in India
13 November, 2018
New article co-authored by Nandini Gooptu explores skill formation and gender in an Indian context
13 August, 2015
Nandini Gooptu Invited to Join British Academy South Asia Panel
12 January, 2015
Conference: Skill Development and Social Transformation in India
21 October, 2013
Enterprise Culture in Neoliberal India: New Book Edited by Nandini Gooptu
28 September, 2012
New Book: India and the British Empire Co-edited by Nandini Gooptu
Research interests:

South Asian studies, with a focus on India; globalisation, labour and changing cultures of work in India; youth, politics and poverty; urban gendered violence; contemporary India's enterprise culture and the complexities of the making of the 'enterprising self', covering workplace culture, the media, mental health and personality development, religion and spirituality, education and skill training; urban development and politics; urbanisation and social history of metropolitan and small-town India; the urban poor and politics; democracy, rights, political identity and social movements.