Dr Ipshita Basu

Dr Ipshita Basu

I am a political sociologist and my research focuses on Development Justice of indigenous communities, ethnic minorities and the labour precariat. More specifically, my works highlights how ‘relations of justification’ form the central axis on which development revolves and I have explained these dynamics through the politics of socially and spatially marginalised communities in relation to urban, digital and environmental transitions. My research approach is strongly inter-disciplinary, combining political sociology approaches with history, psychology and geography and I practice decolonial methods, which are based on equal partnership and provide alternatives to econometric data through narratives and visual arts. In the last 3 years, I have led research projects funded by the British Academy, the UK FCDO and the University of Westminster, which have catalysed fresh and innovative research on how accelerated changes since the pandemic, such as digitalisation, labour migration and planetary health have been experienced by communities and regions characterised by inequality and minoritisation.

The key themes in my research sum up as follows:

Governance, Citizenship and Accountability

Mobility Justice and Mobile Livelihoods

Sociology of Formal/Informal State and Political Systems 

Indigenous Self-Determination

Politics of the Poor

I write a blog on the Politics of the New Normal , to explain how rapid changes in political societies in South Asia and Europe are built on old and new regimes of power, inequality and identities.

I am a Fellow of the UK Higher Education  Academy and for the last three years, as Steering Group member of the Pedagogies for Social Justice Project and member of the University of Westminster's Equality Diversity and Inclusion Committee I have been working on innovative and impactful initiatives to decolonise pedagogies.

I hold 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), all funded by studentships. Previously, I 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). 

My theoretical and thematic expertise and  scholarly contribution sums up as follows:

Governance and Citizenship in Change and Crisis: Governance and accountability in developing countries are better understood through people and power than formal processes, and I have uncovered these dynamics in indigenous self-rule and civil war settings, followed by contexts of urban gentrification, digitalising states and environemntal change. Ultimately, the aim of my research is to show how rapid changes in policy, whether triggered through conflict, technology or development, are experienced locally by marginalised communities and how these shape their encounters with the everyday state and their claims to justice and accountability.

Social Justice Claims-Making and Democracy: My second contribution is on explaining the politics of recognition of indigenous and subaltern groups through the lens of 'relationality' that is the ways in which groups negotiate with states and wider political community not just instrumentally to access material resources, but more expressively to position themselves in relation to others for self-determination, sovereignty and self-worth. These arguments are covered in my long-standing research on indigenous and ethnic minority politics in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Political Sociologies of Governance: My third contribution is to explain the politics of rule and control inside out - that is through the intermediated, brokered yet highly systematic ways through which poor and marginalised communities access goods, services and security from the state bureaucracy and the wider political community. I have investigated these dynamics in relation to tribal self-determination movements, mobile livelihoods during the pandemic, social security and emergency relief in digitalising state contexts and land and labour migrant rights in relation to environmental struggles.



Co-Principal Investigator Rethinking Accountability for Digitised Futures in Bangladesh, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, Oct 2022-Dec 2023, £100,000.

Co-Investigator My City (In)visible British Academy 2021-2022 £15,000

Principal Investigator Moving from the Margins: Explaining Just Mobility in South Asia's Post Pandemic Urban Age. Westminster Sustainable Cities and Urban Environments Seed Grant, £10,000.


Arunopol Seal  Being a Santhal in Chaachanpur, West Bengal: Tracing the contested genealogies of the contemporary Adivasi subject 

Muhammad Rahaman Investigating the oractise of democracy in Bangladesh


Juweria Ali Ogaden Somali Resistance Against Ethiopian State Nationalism: A discursive Enquiry

Abdul Rashid Koroma  Post-Conflict Reintegration of Rebel Fighters in Sierra Leone  (2018)

If you are interested in research on politics of development and marginalised groups in the global south; digital state and accountability, decolonial methods please contact Ipshita directly with your research proposal and CV on basui@westminster.ac.uk

  • Centre for the Study of Democracy

Sustainable Development Goals
In brief

Research areas

Democratic Governance, Development Justice, Indigenous Rights, Political Sociology of State, Urban Politics, Mobility Justice

Skills / expertise

Qualitative methods, International Collaborative projects and Decolonising Research Methodologies

Supervision interests

Political Sociology of State in Developing countries Urban Politics and Governance, Indigenous Rights, Politics of Poor