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About me

Dr Ipshita Basu is a political sociologist specialising in the politics of identity and policy processes in South Asia. She is the author of Elite Discourse Coalitions and the Governance of Smart Spaces Political Geography (2019, Vol. 68). She has co-edited the book Politics and Governance in Bangladesh: Uncertain Landscapes (Routledge, 2017).Her forthcoming book is on the Politics of Social Justification and Democracy in Jharkhand, India She led the research team on the publication of the first and influential State of Cities report (2011, BRAC and IDRC).

Ipshita is a publically engaged scholar and has worked closely with NGOs and think tanks on research projects funded by the IDRC, World Bank and UN.  She was invited to the House of Commons in January 2018 to give evidence on DFID's work on Bangladesh, Burma and Rohingya Crisis

 She holds a PhD in International Development from the University of Bath (2010), an M.Res in International Development (Bath, 2004) and an M.A. in Sociology (Warwick, 2002). Previously, she was Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in International Relations at the University of Surrey (2012-2015) and Head of Research at BRAC'S Institute of Governance and Development (2010-2012). 


Ipshita has taught at universities in UK (Bath, Warwick, Surrey), Europe (Freie University of Berlin) and Bangladesh (BRAC university). She is external examiner for the MA in International Relations at Dublin City University.


Ipshita's research is on policy processes and identity politics in the context of neoliberal economic changes in South Asia and beyond.Her strong inter-disciplinary ethos resists classification, but if one insists she would describe herself as a political sociologist with a critical approach to mainstream theories of development, state and identity. 

Her research on identity politics has focused on the following issues: regional autonomy movements; values and social class formation; urban politics in developing countries. Her theoretical and thematic expertise and  scholarly contribution sums up as follows:

Elites, Governance and Urban Policy Processes: Elites influence policy processes in complex and crucial ways. Understanding how elites function through power structures and evolving networks is a step towards dismantling existing forms of social exclusion. Ipshita has written on colonial and nationalist projects of elite governmentality, values and middle class identity and the emergence of a new elite discourse coalition in the context of smart cities.Currently, her research focuses on determining technocratic nationalism as an ideology emerging out of elite coalitions in digital governance.

Recognition Politics and the Scope for Social Justice: Her ongoing research focuses on rethinking strategies of progressive politics of recognition as it faces the dual challenge of right wing chauvinism and centrist politics masking neoliberal marketisation. A decade ago, Ipshita's PhD thesis (forthcoming as Politics of Social Justification in Jharkhand, India) accounted for the failure of the Jharkhand Movement to deliver justice for tribal minorities by arguing that recognition politics was de-radicalised with the penetration of ethno-nationalism, capitalist expansion and reservation politics. These arguments tell us more relevantly now that the potential for social justice depends not just on what claims a resistance movement makes, but how its scope is shaped by the discursive space for social justice claims-making in the context of majoritarian nationalism and marketising neoliberalism. 

Borders, Boundaries and (Un)belonging: Identity is constituted through difference and differences in turn lend coherence to identity. This is exemplified in the making of real and imagined borders. Ipshita's research has deconstructed these acts of boundary-making at a number of levels- the Maoist rebel vs the tribal victim; the ethnic minority vs the liberal citizen. Her ongoing research discusses how India positions itself as a global power by Othering China; and looks at how narratives of pain from rural inhabitants define the porous Indo-Bangladesh border.


If you are interested in research on urban politics in the developing world; recognition politics in neoliberal/nationalist contexts; elites and policy processes; identity and borders please contact Ipshita directly with your research proposal and CV on [email protected]


For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.