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kalpanaKalpana K
Assistant Professor
Room No.: HSB 332A
Phone : +91 (44) 2257 4520
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Academic Background
  • PhD from the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), Chennai.
  • M.A History, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi
  • B.A Economics, Ethiraj College for Women, Chennai
Research Interests:
  • Gender and development / Women's studies
  • Microfinance / Self Help Groups (SHGs)
  • Critical analysis of state-sponsored livelihood / poverty alleviation initiatives
  • Models of state-civil society collaboration in service delivery
Teaching experience:
  • Perspectives in Social Sciences; Decentralization and Governance; Women in India: Problems and Prospects (ongoing courses offered in IIT Madras)
  • State, Civil Society and Service Provision (taught at IFMR, Chennai, 2009)
  • Teaching as guest lecturer at the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) Chennai
Professional / Research Experience:
  • July 2010 – present: Assistant Professor, IIT Madras
  • September 2008 – June 2010: Senior Researcher at Centre for Development Finance (CDF) of IFMR, Chennai. Experience as team leader of a qualitative study in a pilot village of World Bank-financed and Tamil Nadu government-implemented scheme for social empowerment and poverty reduction. Also involved in conceptualizing and leading qualitative field work in a project to review the design, implementation and impacts of World Bank funded irrigation investments in India.
  • January 2003 - December 2007: Co-investigator of project titled 'Women's Technology Park', Puducherry, implemented by Centre for Ecology and Rural Development (CERD) and supported by Department of Women and Child Welfare and Dept of Science & Technology, GOI.
  • 1998 – 2001: Core Faculty of Centre for Ecology and Rural Development (CERD) & Pondicherry Science Forum (PSF) under Core Grant Scheme of Science & Society Division, Dept of Science & Technology, Govt. of India. During this period, I coordinated a UNICEF supported project to build a trained community-based health activist force in select districts of Tamil Nadu. Also coordinated a state-wide campaign that involved action research studies and public audits of the public health sector and people's health status in Tamil Nadu.
  • 1997 – 1998: Coordinator of a federation of 1500 Self Help Groups (SHGs) promoted by Tamil Nadu Science Forum in Kanyakumari district. Role included helping to consolidate a financially self-reliant district wide federated structure of SHGs and designing leadership and capacity-building programmes for group coordinators.
  • Kalpana K (2017) Women, Microfinance and the State in Neo-liberal India, London and New York: Routledge.
Journal Articles/Working Papers:
  • Kalpana K (2016) ‘Feminizing Responsibility? Women’s ‘Invisible’ Labor and Sub-Contracted Production in South India’ in Journal of International Women’s Studies, Vol 18, Issue 1, pp 33 – 51.
  • Kalpana K (2015) Economic Entitlements via Entrepreneurial Conduct: Women and Financial Inclusion in Neo-liberal India, Journal of World-Systems Research, Vol 21, No 1, Winter/Spring.
  • Kalpana, K., (2011) 'How Pro-Poor is User-Owned Microfinance? Class, Gender and Group Dynamics in Self Help Groups, South India,' Indian Journal of Human Development, Vol 5, No 2, July – December.
  • Kalpana, K. (2011) 'Subverting Policy, Surviving Poverty: Women and SGSY in Rural Tamil Nadu', Economic and Political Weekly, Vol XLVI, No 43.
  • Kalpana, K., (2008) 'The Vulnerability of 'Self-Help': Women and Microfinance in South India,' IDS Working Paper 303, Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex, UK
  • Kalpana, K. (2006) 'Microcredit wins Nobel: A stocktaking', Economic and Political Weekly, p 5110 – 5113, 16 December.
  • Kalpana. K (2005) 'Shifting Trajectories in Microfinance Discourse', Economic and Political Weekly, p 5400 – 5409, Vol XL, No 51, December 17.
  • Kalpana, K. (2004), 'A Critical Reading of the Anti-Poverty Dimensions of Microcredit Programmes' Working Paper No. 189, Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), Chennai.
  • Kalpana, K., (2004) 'Microfinance – the Silver Bullet for Empowerment: Some Questions' Working Paper No. 191, Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), Chennai.
Books edited and book chapters:
  • Kalpana, K (2017) ‘Unpacking ‘Win-Win’: How Feminists Interrogate Microfinance’ in Kalpana Kannabiran and Padmini Swaminathan (eds) Re-Presenting Feminist Methodologies: Interdisciplinary Explorations, Routledge India.
  • Kalpana, K (2015) 'SHG Intermediation and Women's Agency: A View from Tamil Nadu' in Tara Nair (ed) Microfinance in India: Approaches, Outcomes, Challenges, Routledge India.
  • With V. Geetha, 'Introduction: The Life and Times of Mythily Sivaraman' in Mythily Sivaraman (2013) Haunted by Fire: Essays on Caste, Class, Exploitation and Emancipation, LeftWord, New Delhi
  • Kalpana, K (2011) 'Negotiating Multiple Patriarchies: Women and Microfinance in South India,' in Nalini Visvanathan, Lynn Duggan, Laurie Nisonoff and Nan Wiegersma (eds), The Women, Gender and Development Reader II : Second Edition, Zed Books.
  • Kalpana, K. (2007) 'Exposing the Media Spiel on Rural Women' in Nalini Rajan (ed) 21st Century Journalism in India, p 139 - 145, Sage Publications, New Delhi.
  • Kalpana, K. (2005), 'Situating Microcredit in India: Some Reflections' in Isabelle Guerin & Jane Palier (eds.), "Microfinance Challenges: Empowerment or Disempowerment of the Poor?", p 149-158, Collection Sciences Sociales, IFP, French Institute of Pondicherry.
Book Review:
  • An Anthropological Critique of Microfinance in Bangladesh, Economic and Political Weekly, 2011, Vol XLVI, No 35, Review of Lamia Karim authored 'Microfinance and its Discontents: Women in Debt in Bangladesh", 2011, University of Minnesota Press.
  • Review of John Harriss authored 'Depoliticizing Development – The World Bank and Social Capital', 2001, Left Word Books, in Review of Development and Change, January – June 2002, Vol VII, No. 1
  • Review of Cecile Jackson and Ruth Pearson (eds) 'Feminist Visions of Development: Gender Analysis and Policy', 1998, Routledge, in Review of Development and Change, July – December 2002, Vol VII, No. 2
Selected Paper Presentations at Conferences / Seminars:
  • “Feminist analysis of social and solidarity economy practices: case studies India”, at International Workshop on “Feminist analysis of social and solidarity economy practices: Views from Latin America and India”, organized by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, 29th January 2016.
  • “Women’s Right to Citizenship and Microcredit in India” at International Symposium on “New Approaches to Citizenship and Inequality: Gender, Race and Rights” Organized by Department of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts, Purdue University, West Lafeyette, USA, October 2, 2015.
  • 'Women and Labour: Some Conceptual Issues' at Workshop on 'Understanding Labour: Region, Caste and Gender; Through Tamil History and Literature' Organized by French Institute of Pondicherry and the Tamil Nadu – Puducherry Progressive Writers Artists Association, 22nd August 2013.
  • "Sexual Violence: In the Shadow of State Power and Class and Caste Power" at Seminar on 'Sexual Assault and Sexual Cultures', organized by Centre for Women's Studies (UGC-Funded), Ethiraj College for Women and Pengal Santhippu (an independent forum), 2nd February 2013.
  • 'Women, Microfinance and the State: Inclusive Policies, Exclusionary Realities,' at National Seminar on 'State, Democracy and Citizenship: Issues and Challenges,' organized by Department of Sociology, University of Pune, 14th March, 2011.
  • 'Women and Development: The case of Microcredit' at National Conference on 'Indian Feminism: Towards New Frontiers' organized by Asian Centre for Cross-Cultural Studies, Chennai, 26 August 2010.
  • 'Determinants of decision-making by SHG women' at International Seminar on 'Social Exclusion and Indebtedness' jointly organized by Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Pondicherry University and Rural Microfinance and Employment Project, French Institute of Pondicherry, 1st December 2009.
  • 'Contests over Credit: Class, Gender and Microfinance in Rural Tamil Nadu' at National Workshop on 'The Poor as an Emerging Market: Strategies, Research, and Implications' conducted by RBI Programme on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Economic Issues, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore, 6th November 2009.
  • 'Exploring Social Relations of Class and Gender in Microfinance' in University Grants Commission (UGC) sponsored National Seminar on 'Democracy, Development and Marginal Groups', organized by Sri Sharada College, October 2nd – 3rd, 2009, Basrur, Karnataka.
  • 'Understanding Intra-Group Power Dynamics: Class, Gender and Microfinance in Rural Tamil Nadu', 'First European Research Conference on Microfinance' organized by the Centre for European Research on Microfinance (CERMI), Brussels, June 2nd – 4th, 2009.
  • 'Self Help Groups and Livelihood Initiatives' at National Consultation on 'Current Employment Strategies and Women's Work' organized by International Labour Organization (ILO) and Ministry of Labour and Employment, July 6 – 7th, 2009, New Delhi.
  • 'Micro-credit, Gender and the State in India: Conflicts and Challenges', Invited seminar at Oxford Department for International Development, University of Oxford, UK, 24th April 2007.
  • 'Self Help Groups and the State in India: Confronting multiple patriarchies', Invited seminar at Department of Politics, University of Bristol, UK, 23rd April 2007.
  • 'Microcredit and Indian SHGs: A Critical Examination of Poverty Issues' at National Seminar on 'Globalization and the Indian Women's Movement' organized by the Centre for Women's Development Studies (CWDS), January 20th – 21st, 2005, New Delhi.
  • 'Problems in Interfaces between SHGs and the Nationalized Banking Sector', Invited presentation at public hearing organized by the Independent Commission on Banking and Financial Policy set up by the All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC), 10th October 2005, Chennai.
  • 'Issues for research in SHG-based microcredit programmes in Tamil Nadu' at National Consultation on 'SHGs, Empowerment and Poverty Reduction' organized by Nirantar: A Centre for Gender and Education, 13th – 14th December 2004, New Delhi.
  • 'The Shifting Trajectories in Microfinance Discourse – Is it an Anti-Poverty Weapon?' at the Development Convention organized by the Center for Development Studies (CDS), Trivandrum, January 24th – 25th, 2004.
  • 'Conceptualizing links between Microfinance and Globalization' at seminar on the "Future of Micro-credit" held at the World Social Forum, January 16th – 21st, 2004, Mumbai.
Conferences/Workshops organized:
  • Symposium on "Gender, Political Participation and Representation in India" at IIT Madras, on May 5th, 2017, sponsored by University of Nottingham, UK and Deparment of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras.
  • Symposium on "State and Social Movements: Violence, Health and Food Security" at IIT Madras, sponsored by Department of Sociology, Purdue University and Humanities and Social Sciences Department, IIT on March 13-14, 2013 (Co-organized with Dr. Binitha Thampi and Dr.R.Santhosh, IITM)
Invited Lectures/ Presentations / Panel Discussions:
  • Presentation on "Women and Empowerment" at Symposium on Women, Water and Wealth conduced by State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD), Tamilnadu on 28th March 2017.
  • Presentation on 'The Enforcement and Judicial Process: Gaining Justice Using the Law' at Seminar on 'Stopping Violence Against Women: Socio-Cultural and Politico-Legal Challenges' organized by the Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation, Chennai, 27th March 2013
  • Presentation on 'Women as Agents and Actors in Empowerment: The Role of the State and Voluntary Sector' at Thematic Seminar on Health, Education and Women's Empowerment of the Annual Conference, Tamilnadu Foundation (TNF) on 23rd February, 2013, Raj Bhavan, Chennai
  • Presentation on 'A Critical Review of National Policies to Combat Declining Sex Ratios' at National Consultation on 'Strategies to halt declining Child Sex Ratios', organized by the Campaign Against Sex Selective Abortion (CASSA) on 20th February, 2013, Chennai.
  • Presentation at Panel Discussion on 'Prevention of Abuse and Violence against Women' organized by Centre for Social Initiatives and Management (CSIM), Chennai on 19th February 2013
  • Participant in panel discussion on 'Data Collection Challenges for Specific forms of Gender Violence including Workplace Sexual Harassment, Pre-Natal Sex Selection, Street Sexual Harassment and Honour Killings' at Seminar on 'Making Numbers Count: A Seminar on Gender Violence Research Challenges', Organized by Prajnya Trust, 16th September, 2011, Chennai
Research Projects (ongoing and completed)
  • Research study on ‘Gender, Labour and Citizenship’ as part of ICSSR-sponsored project titled “Changing Contours of State Welfarism and Emerging Citizenship: A comparative study of Tamil Nadu and Kerala” Study period: 13 November 2013 – 12 June 2016.
  • Research study on ‘Feminist Analysis of Social and Solidarity Economy Practices: Views from India and Latin America’. Funded by the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP). Study Period: 1st October 2016 – 31st March 2018.
Awards / Fellowships:
  • 'Young Faculty Recognition Award, Awarded by IITM for Excellence in Teaching and Research, Awarded in 2013.
  • Visiting Fellowship awarded by the Centre for the Future State at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex (Feb 2007 – April 2007).
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fellowship for Doctoral Studies awarded by the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Trust, New Delhi (January 2004 – December 2005).
  • P. Aswathy – Globalization impacts on labour and livelihoods of women fish workers in Kerala. (Ongoing)
  • P. Shabna – Islamic Feminism and Muslim women’s rights discourse in Kerala (Ongoing)
MA Project (Completed)
  • Diana Evangeline - Middle Class Associationism and the Politics of Civil Society: A case analysis in Chennai (2016)
  • Svadhvitha V. Venkatraman - Poverty, Vulnerability and Disability: An Ethnographic study on single, low income mothers of disabled children in Chennai city (2015)
  • Raiza Talish – Revisiting Institutional Co-Production from a Feminist Perspective: Case Study of the Kudumbashree's Nutrimix and Santhwanam Initiatives (2013)
  • R.C.Sudheesh - Transformative Decentralization in Tribal Zones in Kerala: The Case of the Forest Rights Act 2006 (2012)
  • Aashish Gupta – Cash Transfers for Human Development? Evidence from a Social Cash Transfer Programme in India (2011)
  • Aadya Singh - Livelihoods and Microfinance: Credit Plus in Contemporary Development Practice (2011)