Sarada Balagopalan is an Associate Professor of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University. Broadly focused on postcolonial childhoods, Sarada’s research is directed at both challenging the exclusionary logics that often underlie humanist efforts around marginal children in the majority world, as well as generatively engaging these lives to decenter hegemonic assumptions around a normative childhood. Her current research is an ethnographic exploration of India’s much touted youthful “demographic dividend” with a particular focus on urban female youth, who are first generation school goers, and the complexities that frame their transitions from schooling to skilling.She is the author of Inhabiting ‘Childhood’: Children, Labour and Schooling in Postcolonial India (2014). She serves on the editorial board of Childhood: A Journal of Global Child Research and is an Associate Editor for The SAGE Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies.
Wolf Humanities Center Regional Fellow
2019—2020 Forum on Kinship
Associate Professor, Department of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University
Crafting Related Selves in Precarious Times: Young Women and Retail Work in India
The proposed project focuses on how young women retail workers in India “do kinship” in the workspace. Existing research on women and retail work has often utilized kinship as a metaphor to categorize various efforts among women who, as strangers to the workplace, draw on gendered idioms to craft and consolidate their worker identities. Building on this research, while differing with its framing of kinship, this project highlights the critical role of relationality to the formation of young women’s subjectivities as workers. Based on four months of fieldwork and over fifty interviews with young women in the cities of Mumbai and Kolkata in India, this project opens-up existing research on school-to-work transitions, skilling, flexible work and postcolonial childhoods to the complexities of kinship.