Shubhra Sharma

Vandana Shiva Assistant Professor of Gender & Women's Studies

Joined Connecticut College: 2010

B.A., University of Delhi, India
M.A., M. Phil., Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India
Concentration in Women's Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin


Ethics of development

Globalization and policy-making in South Asia

Transnationalism and policy making

Feminist social research methods/ethnography

Governance and NGO's


Colonialism and education

Shubhra Sharma teaches GWS 103 Introduction to Gender and Women's Studies: A Transnational Approach, and GWS 312 Feminist Social Research Methods.

She taught two freshman seminars: "Homesick: Traveling in Search of Home," a look at the lives and travels of "global souls" today and in the context of 19th-century colonialism, and "Chutney-Popcorn: Bollywood, Globalization and Identity," a comparative perspective on film-making as a reflection of the times, drawing from contemporary films called "Bollywood" (the Hindi film industry in Bombay.)

Sharma is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, most recently completing a research fellowship with the Global Feminisms Collaborative at Vanderbilt University.

She has taught in the departments of anthropology and Asian studies and arts at the University of Texas at Austin, lecturing on the religions, economy, politics and cultures of South Asia. There she also taught first-year Urdu and Hindi language, grammar and literature.

Sharma's book, "Neoliberalization" as Betrayal: State, Feminism, and a Women's Education Program in India, was published by Palgrave-Macmillan in June, 2011. This book is part of the Comparative Feminist Studies Series edited by Professor Chandra Talpade Mohanty of Syracuse University. Through an ethnography of Mahila Samakhaya (MS), a government-sponsored education program for women’s empowerment instituted in rural Inia in 1991, she examined how a program that claims to “empower” disenfranchised women through the instrumentality of a “new” education, produces the effect of a vertical and horizontal spatialization of the state, especially in the way this “new” education was institutionalized over time. In her interviews with many “actors” (state and non-state) who created, implemented, and experienced the program, she examines the instrumentality of education, especially how it was operationalized by the state in a particular timeframe to re-institute itself both within the society that it encompasses and the international community of states to which it belongs. She draws attention to the connection between projects for women’s education and spatialization of the state, especially under conditions of economic liberalization in the 1990s post-cold war world. Most importantly, she shows such ‘global’ projects are received, processed, and critiqued differently at the local level.

Sharma's research interests continue to diversify. She is now examining the shifting (or not) nature of imaginations about self, family, and nation amongst the Indian diaspora community in Canada, especially those who have migrated there from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to understand what constitutes the linchpin of cultural identity building within this community in its transnational movement. Is religion (Hindu) retained as the marker for self and community identity or is religion replaced by/ juxtapositioned with other markers of identity like race? How is race/ racialization different in and across India, Dubai, and Canada, especially in and through the process of migration? She will conduct an ethnography in Ontario, Canada, interviewing a select group of Indian immigrants from Dubai, now legal residents of Canada, to identify and represent both transnational/ global and localized practices and meanings of India and Indians in the 21st century.

Other recent publications by Sharma include:

  • "Religions," in A Historical Companion to Post-Colonial Literatures in English, University of Edinburgh, U.K. (2005)
  • "Mera Gaon" (My Village), chapter in Saamaajik Vigyan (Social Science), grade six textbook, State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT), Delhi, India
  • A booklet, "Religiosity or Misconception: Questions on Religion, Politics, and Violence through a Woman's Perspective," co-written, Peepal Tree, New Delhi, India

Sharma's recent presentations include:

  • "Getting There, Being There: Doing Ethnography, Investigating Ethnography in Urban and Rural India," Hawaii International Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities, 10th annual conference sponsored by the University of Louisville, Kentucky. June, 2011
  • "Gendering India: Women's Education Programs and "Spatialization," 10th International Interdisciplinary Congress, MUNDOS DE MUJERES/Women's Worlds 2008, Madrid, Spain, 2008
  • "Bombs, Bodies and Borders: Quinicrine Sterilization in the Third World" (paper with Monica Casper, Ph.D.), Eighth Annual Conference on Mothering, Toronto, Canada, 2007
  • "Spatializing the State through Programs of Empowerment: A Critical Ethnography," paper presented at 28th National Women's Studies Association, St. Charles, IL, 2007
  • "Empowering Women in India: A Critical Overview," invited lecture at International Education Week Celebrations, Vanderbilt University, TN, 2006

Sharma formerly worked for Ignition, Inc., a cutting-edge design firm based in Dallas, TX, which conducts user-centered research, designs and redesigns consumer electronics and suggests marketing strategies to boost product sales.

Visit the Gender and Women's Studies department website.

From the book jacket of "Neoliberalization" as Betrayal: State, Feminism, and a Women's' Education Program in India, by Shubhra Sharma:

Using initiatives by non-governmental organizations to promote women's empowerment in rural India, this book draws new conclusions about the three-way relationship between neoliberalism, women's education, and spatialization of the state. Sharma gets to the heart of the assumptions and blind spots inherent in these programs and makes an important contribution to the debate about the institutionalization of women's education.

"Sharma has written a fascinating book about women's education and 'empowerment' in India. Grounded in a decade of reflexive, robust ethnography, her provocative work challenges taken-for-granted ways of doing and writing 'third world' feminism. In Sharma's account, empowerment is less about progressive practices for change and much more about the production of subjects within governance structures. She skillfully weaves women's own stories and experiences into an engaging and informative account of state authority, feminist expertise, and betrayal under neoliberalism. This is anthropology for the twenty-first century." - Monica J. Casper, Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Arizona State University and author of The Making of the Unborn Patient: A Social Anatomy of Fetal Surgery

"Sharma writes a convincing portrait of how education policy operates by entangling bureaucrats and program recipients at multiple levels, often producing contradictory outcomes. By examining program failure as 'betrayal,' she ushers in a new way of thinking about neoliberal development policy. This book is a welcome addition to the scholarship on bureaucracy, development, and gender studies."- Lamia Karim, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Oregon and author of Microfinance and Its Discontents: Women in Debt in Bangladesh.

Contact Shubhra Sharma

Mailing Address

Shubhra Sharma
Connecticut College
Box #5266
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


740 Williams Street, 2nd floor