Lipika Kamra

Lipika Kamra

Department of Political Science and International Studies
Assistant Professor

Contact details

Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr. Lipika Kamra is an Assistant Professor in Politics and International Studies. She is a political anthropologist studying the state, development and democracy from an ethnographic perspective. Her research and teaching interests crisscross political and social anthropology, comparative politics, gender studies, development studies, and South Asian politics.

Google Scholar profile


DPhil in International Development, University of Oxford, 2016

MPhil in Political Science, University of Delhi, 2012

MA in Politics and International Relations, Jawaharlal Nehru University, 2010

BA (Hons.) in Journalism, University of Delhi, 2008


Lipika Kamra joined the University of Birmingham as an Assistant Professor in 2023. Prior to teaching at Birmingham, she has taught at Queen Mary University of London, O.P. Jindal Global University, India and Georgetown University, Qatar. She holds a D.Phil from the University of Oxford. 

Kamra is currently completing a book manuscript on counterinsurgency as a driver of statemaking in the margins of modern India. The book focuses on non-military modes of counterinsurgency, such as development, and how these frame state-society relations. She pays particular attention to the relationships between state actors and rural women that emerge in a counterinsurgency context, and how women navigate citizenship and development in rural India. 

She also leads a project on WhatsApp and Politics with Philippa Williams. The project examines how the digital messaging app, WhatsApp shapes everyday political life from the family to political party and the nation in India. The initial phase of this research was funded by WhatsApp. They are now embarking on a second phase focused on lived experiences of digital privacy in India. (2019-). 

Kamra is currently conducting fieldwork for a project on women voters in India, which studies how women voters think about the act of voting and the idea of democratic citizenship. As part of an ERC funded project led by Anastasia Piliavsky on India’s Politics in the Vernacular, she is also researching on gendered utterances in Indian politics.


Debates in World Politics


Research interests 

  • state, development, democracy, digital politics, South Asian politics 

Current projects 

Statemaking and Counterinsurgency: This research challenges work which treats counterinsurgency merely as a top-down policy agenda and ignores the everyday nuances of state-society relations in counterinsurgency contexts, and how state -citizen relations often lie betwixt and between acquiescence and resistance. Lipika's book manuscript, Making and Remaking the State, examines the relationship between counterinsurgency, statemaking, citizenship and development in modern India. Drawing on archival and ethnographic research on the Jungle Mahals of West Bengal, she explores how counterinsurgency recurs as a primary driver of colonial and postcolonial statemaking in regions associated today with the Maoist insurgency in India. With particular attention to the relationships between state actors and rural women that emerge in a counterinsurgency context, and how women navigate citizenship and development in rural India. This book draws on my doctoral research, and parts of it have been published in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes.  

Digital Technology and Everyday Politics: Lipika's research in this area examines how digital technology is reshaping democratic politics and the politics of development. She is a co-investigator on a WhatsApp funded project with Philippa Williams (QMUL Geography) on ‘Social media and Everyday Life’ which examines the role of WhatsApp in shaping political life and subjectivities in India. They have now extended the project to examine situated experiences of (digital) privacy (not funded by WhatsApp). For further information, see the project website

Lipika is beginning research on a new project on gender, digital technology and the state. In the backdrop of the Indian state mandating women development workers to use smartphones, she seeks to examine how women respond to the compulsory use of digital technology in their everyday work and life.

She is also leading a British Academy seed-funded project on comparing the use of digital technology during elections in South Asia and Latin America. Along with Ainhoa Montoya (School of Advanced Study, University of London, she is building a network of academics who work on this theme in both regions. 

Women and Democracy: Over the past decade, women in India are voting in elections much more than before and political parties have started to take them seriously as a separate electorate. Within this context, Lipika has been conducting fieldwork since 2019 among women voters of different age, caste, class and generational backgrounds, to understand how they perceive the act of voting, and how they imagine themselves as democratic citizens in a society where gender inequalities continue to persist. While political scientists and election analysts have now started to write about woman voters in their analyses, there is still no qualitative study which reveals what women in India think about the act of voting, whether their gender influences their voting behaviour, whether women vote for who the male members of the family vote for or, and whether they have strong preferences in terms of parties and candidates.

The second strand of her work on women and democracy is on gender and the language of politics. She is part of the research team of an ERC-funded project ‘India’s Politics in its Vernaculars’, led by Anastasia Piliavsky (King’s College London). As part of this project, she studies women-aimed rhetoric in Indian politics. In particular, Lipika focuses on the idioms and language that political parties in north India use to address women voters in their campaigns and election manifestoes. And how women voters, in turn, adopt this political language, and also create their own.

Other activities

Book Reviews Editor, Journal of South Asian Development 

Research Fellow, Akademie Schloss Solitude (2023), Stuttgart, Germany


Kamra, L, P. Williams and P. Johar (2023) Grassroots Authoritarianism: WhatsApp, middle-class boundary making and pandemic governance in New Delhi’s neighbourhoods. Territory, Politics, Governance, 11 (6) : 1121-1140, 

Williams, P and L. Kamra (2022) No room for dissent: Domesticating WhatsApp, digital private spaces and lived democracy in India. Antipode. 54(1): 305-330,

Kamra, L. and D. Sen (2020) Women’s Collectives and Social Transformations in South Asia: Negotiations, Navigations, and Self-Making, Journal of South Asian Development 15 (3): 309-315, Introduction to special issue, co-edited with Debarati Sen, 

Kamra, L .(2020) Women’s Collectives and State-led Development in West Bengal: Reimagining Selves during Counterinsurgency, Journal of South Asian Development 15 (3): 352-370,

Kamra, L. (2020) The Politics of Hopeful Citizenship: Women,   Counterinsurgency and the State in Eastern India, Critique of Anthropology

Kamra, L. and S. Khatri (2020)The Pandemic in the Periphery of Delhi: Covid-19 and Boundary (Re)Making in Peri-Urban India, City and Society, Covid Dispatches 2020                                                                              

Kamra,L. (2019) The Expanded State in in India: Counterinsurgency and the Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship, Contemporary South Asia 27 (1): 1-14.

Kamra, L. (2013)Self-Making through Self-Writing: Non-Sovereign Agency in Women's Memoirs from the Naxalite Movement, South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ) 7,      

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