Prof Nikita Sud

Professor of the Politics of Development

Nikita Sud’s research and teaching is centred on the politics of development; the neo-liberal transformation of postcolonial states and governance; and the political sociology, economy and ecology of contemporary India.

She has written extensively on the Indian state, in particular, its engagement with development as an idea and in practice; its interaction with minorities based on gender, caste and religion; and the reinvention rather than recession of this entity under economic liberalisation. This long-term research resulted in her 2012 book, Liberalization, Hindu Nationalism and the State: A Biography of Gujarat, which was widely reviewed.

More recently, Nikita studied the socially entangled life of land. In research conducted over more than a decade in west, east and south India, she explored ideas and theories of land. The latter were put in conversation with processes of land-making in relation to state-, politics- and market-making. Alongside a number of publications in Geography, Environment, Development Studies, and Agrarian Studies journals, this research is encapsulated in the monograph The Making of Land and The Making of India (Oxford University Press, 2021).

In future research, Nikita intends to delve into development theory, especially the changing meanings and metaphors of the Global South. She is also initiating comparative research on the intersections of modernity, democracy and anti-democracy in contexts of environmental destruction and global climate change. An iteration of this work on ‘authoritarian environments’ is available in the Journal of Contemporary Asia (Sud 2020).

Prior to joining ODID, Nikita was Lecturer in Politics at the University of York. She has also been an anchor with All India Radio. Nikita is keen to interact with publics beyond the academic. She regularly writes for national and international media. Her research has featured in The Conversation, Thomson Reuters Place, Mongabay, openDemocracy, Los Angeles Times, Al Jazeera, TRT World, Asian Scientist, The Telegraph, The Times of India, The Hindu, The Indian Express, Outlook, Tehelka, The,, NDTV, The Tribune, Dainik Bhaskar, East Asia Forum, Mediapart, Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Business, BBC Radio 4, Radio France, and Radio Ö1 of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, among others.

She is a recipient of an Oxford University Teaching Excellence Award, and the Sanjaya Lall Prize. She has served on the editorial board of Oxford Development Studies, and is currently a board member of the Journal of Contemporary Asia and Area Development and Policy. She is Vicegerent of Wolfson College for academic years 2020-22. 

Nikita is ODID Director of Graduate Studies for the academic years 2021-23.

Teaching & Supervision
In the media
Exploring a sharing society: land and sustainability in India
Landscapes of liberalisation
Religion in the making of a region
Liberalisation, Hindu nationalism and the state

Nikita teaches on the MPhil and DPhil at ODID. For the MPhil in Development Studies, she contributes to the Core Course, the Foundation Course in the History and Politics of the Developing World, and to Qualitative Research Methods. She also convenes a second-year option on Climate Questions from the Global South.

She has acted as a research assessor across the university’s Social Science Division, including in the departments of Social Policy, Global and Area Studies, Geography, Politics and International Relations, Law, and Continuing Education.

Doctoral supervision

Nikita’s doctoral students past and present have worked on: agrarian and social change in India and Pakistan; the state and citizenship in South and South East Asia; land and urban transformation; the history and politics of Gujarat; the sociology, politics, history and political economy of Hindu nationalism; smart cities, special economic zones and industrial corridors with a focus on institutions, accumulation, politics and the environment; and the politics of welfare and development.

She is happy to hear from prospective doctoral students interested in any of her areas of research. She will particularly welcome conceptually innovative and theoretically informed projects on the intersections of: development, climate change and the environment, and the contemporary anti-democratic politics of authoritarianism and populism.

Research Students supervised

Aisha Ahmad
Research Student
Pratim Ghosal
Research Student
Ikuno Naka
Research Student
Arushi Sharan
Research Student
Nika Soon-Shiong
Research Student

Books and monographs

Sud, Nikita (2021) 'The Making of Land and The Making of India', New Delhi: Oxford University Press
Sud, Nikita (2012) 'Liberalization, Hindu Nationalism and the State', New Delhi: Oxford University Press (Monograph)

Journal articles and special issues

Sud, Nikita (2020) 'The Unfixed State of Unfixed Land', Development and Change 51 (5) 1175-98
Sud, Nikita (2020) 'Making the political, and doing politics: unfixed land in an Amoebal Zone in India', Journal of Peasant Studies 47 (6) 1348-70
Sud, Nikita (2017) 'State, scale and networks in the liberalisation of India’s land', Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 35 (1) 76-93
Sud, Nikita (2014) 'The men in the middle: A missing dimension in global land deals', Journal of Peasant Studies 41 (4) 593-612
Sud, Nikita (2014) 'Governing India's Land', World Development 60 43-56
Sud, Nikita (2013) 'Local Agency, and Structural Continuity: Views from an SHG-based Microcredit Scheme in Western India', European Journal of Development Research 25 (2) 271-87
Sud, Nikita (with H Tambs-Lyche) (2011) 'Special Issue: Religion in the Making of a Region: Perspectives from Gujarat', South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 34(3)
Sud, Nikita (with H Tambs-Lyche) (2011) 'Introduction: Religion in the Making of a Region', South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 34(3) 319-32
Sud, Nikita (2009) 'The Indian State in a Liberalizing Landscape', Development and Change 40 (4) 645-65
Sud, Nikita (2009) 'Cracks in the Facade: The Gujarat BJP and Elections 2009', Economic and Political Weekly 44 (28) 15-19
Sud, Nikita (2008) 'Tracing the Links Between Hindu Nationalism and the Indian Diaspora', St Antony's International Review 3(2) 50-65
Sud, Nikita (2008) 'The Nano and Good Governance in Gujarat', Economic and Political Weekly 43 (50) 13-14
Sud, Nikita (2008) 'Secularism and the Gujarat State: 1960-2005', Modern Asian Studies 42(6) 1249-70
Sud, Nikita (2007) 'From Land to the Tiller to Land Liberalisation: The Political Economy of Gujarat's Shifting Land Policy', Modern Asian Studies 41 (3) 603-38
Sud, Nikita (2007) 'Constructing and Contesting an Ethno-Religious Gujarati-Hindu Identity Through Development Programmes in an Indian State', Oxford Development Studies 35 (2) 131-48
Sud, Nikita (2003) 'Experiences of the SGSY in Gujarat. From Process-Oriented Theory to Deterministic Practice', Economic and Political Weekly 38 (39) 4085-7


Sud, Nikita (with Harald Tambs-Lyche) (2016) 'Gujarat and the Contradictory Co-existence of Economic Enterprise and Political Illiberalism'. In Knut A Jacobsen (ed) Routledge Handbook of Contemporary India , London: Routledge
Sud, Nikita (2010) 'The Politics of Land in Post-colonial Gujarat'. In E Simpson, A Kapadia (eds) The Idea of Gujarat. History, Ethnography and Text , Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan

Working papers

Sud, Nikita (2008) 'Narrowing Possibilities of Stateness: The Case of Land in Gujarat', QEH Working Paper Series QEHWPS163
Sud, Nikita (with A Yagnik ) (2004) 'Hindutva and Beyond: The Political Topography of Gujarat', LSE Crisis States Research Centre
13 December, 2021
Cheryl Doss, Nikita Sud awarded title of Professor
22 March, 2021
New book by Nikita Sud explores complex role of land in India
08 July, 2020
New article by Nikita Sud explores 'unfixity' of land in Indian SEZ
19 November, 2019
New article by Nikita Sud explores ‘unfixed’ nature of land in India
21 November, 2018
Nikita Sud wins GCRF grant to explore land use and land sharing in India
15 November, 2018
Nikita Sud presents on Indian democracy at FCO South Asia study day
10 May, 2018
Nikita Sud to deliver keynote at Association for Anglophone Postcolonial Studies conference
19 December, 2017
Nikita Sud comments on Gujarat election results and implications for Modi's BJP
21 September, 2017
Nikita Sud to feature in Curiosity Carnival with children's story about land
23 June, 2016
New article by Nikita Sud explores state, scale and networks through land in India


21 Jan, 2022
'The Forum - Copper: from mining to microprocessors'. Nikita Sud takes part in BBC World Service panel
10 May, 2021
'He let his beard grow and ignored the warnings. Now the Indians are gasping for oxygen, and a new danger threatens'. Nikita Sud quoted in Denmark's Berlingske (in Danish)
30 Apr, 2021
'Global populism: Big promises, poor pandemic results'. Nikita Sud quoted by Christian Science Monitor
25 Apr, 2021
'World's Biggest Covid Crisis Threatens Modi's Grip on India'. Nikita Sud quoted in Bloomberg article
23 Feb, 2021
'Why are India’s farmers angry? | Start Here'. Nikita Sud contributes to a primer from Aljazeera English about farmer protests in India
28 Jan, 2021
'We have to learn to see land with a more nuanced lens'. Nikita Sud speaks to Firstpost about her new book
16 Jan, 2021
'Billionaires-Led ‘Gilded Age’ Comes Under Attack in Modi’s India'. Nikita Sud cited in Bloomberg article on farmer protests in India
06 Jan, 2021
'What will it take to end Indian farmers' protests?'. Nikita Sud speaks to Al Jazeera's Inside Story about continuing protests against deregulation of India's agriculture sector
03 Dec, 2020
How will Indian PM Narendra Modi deal with angry farmers?. Nikita Sud spoke to Al Jazeera's Inside Story about farmer protests in India
01 Oct, 2020
'Why are they going after Bollywood?'. Nikita Sud writes for on authoritarian populist politics in India and its entanglement with the Bollywood film industry


Research interests:

The state in the developing world; the politics of economic liberalisation; the good governance agenda; consultants, brokers and middlemen in development, corruption, interstitial spaces in states and markets; the global land grab; the politics of land markets; urban and peri-urban land, construction, infrastructure, the real estate industry; religion as identity in development contexts; the society, politics and economy of post-independence India