Sarada Balagopalan, PhD


Sarada Balagopalan
Associate Professor of Childhood Studies
Department of Childhood Studies
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
329 Cooper Street – Room 218
Camden, NJ 08102
Phone: (856) 225-6892

Broadly focused on postcolonial childhoods, Dr. Balagopalan’s inter-disciplinary research engages marginal children’s experiences with compulsory schooling, labor, gendered school-spaces, children’s rights discourses and pedagogies of ‘citizenship’.   Trained in education and anthropology, her work is directed at both challenging the exclusionary logics that often underlie humanist efforts around marginal children, as well as productively drawing upon these children’s lives to decenter hegemonic assumptions around childhood. 

Dr. Balagopalan is currently engaged in two separate research projects.  The first of these is an archival exploration of various efforts undertaken to democratize schooling in India from the late nineteenth century onwards.  Her effort is to trace shifts in ideas, institutions and technologies set in place, to not only include marginal populations of children, but to also design ‘appropriate’ and ‘meaningful’ curriculum for them.  Her second research project 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.

Sarada’s book Inhabiting Childhood: Children, Work and Schooling in Postcolonial India (Palgrave, 2014) foregrounds the tension between children’s work and schooling as a key site where discourses of colonial modernity, the ‘developmental’ nation-state, late capitalism and current transnational efforts around children’s rights play out.  Her work has been published in several journals.  Sarada’s work has also involved efforts to translate her research interests into curricular and related interventions in elementary education.  Between 2005-08, Sarada served as the Chief Advisor to the Indian government’s middle-school ‘Social and Political Life’ (earlier known as ‘civics’) textbooks.  Dr. Balagopalan is currently a Board member of Nirantar, a center for gender and education in New Delhi, and has also been a part of Eklavya, an NGO in Madhya Pradesh, engaged in pedagogic reforms in India’s public schools.  Prior to joining Rutgers University, she was an Associate Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi.