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Social Anthropology:


Jeevan Sharma

Jeevan Sharma
Dr Jeevan Sharma
Lecturer in South Asia and International Development; Programme Director- MSc International Development; Deputy Director, Graduate School of Social and Political Science (Director PGT); Deputy Director- Global Development Academy
5.01 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0) 131 6511760
Research Interests
Migrant labor, Migration and development, livelihoods, Gender and Development, Youth, human rights, Development and Humanitarian Aid, Global Health, Reproductive & child health, Monitoring and Evaluation, Nepal and the Himalaya, South Asia

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Wednesday, 11.00-13.00

For appointments outside of my guidence and feedback hours, please email me at:

Research Day: Monday

I have broad interests in changing norms and forms international development, human rights and humanitarian response; labour migration; society, culture and politics of South Asia; and socio-economic-political transition in Nepal and the Himalaya. I have carried out ethnographic fieldwork in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Malawi. I received PhD from the School of Social and Political Science, the University in Edinburgh in 2007, and have worked at Feinstein International Centre at Tufts University and Save the Children UK. Over the last 15 years, I have offered consultancy services to a number of development agencies including DFID, World Bank, USAID, JHPIEGO, Oxford Policy Management Limited, Care International, Save the Children, Saferworld, Scottish Government and Family Health International among others.

Currently, I am concluding two ESRC-DFID funded research projects. The first project focuses on human rights documentation in low-income countries marked by limited institutional capacity and poverty. The second project focuses on new norms and forms of development examines social and political organisation of external development assistance with its focus on norms of outsourcing, value for money, results framework and evidence-based development in the field of maternal and child health. 

From November 2016, I will be working as Co-investigaor in a project titled 'Dynamic Flood Topographies in the Terai, Nepal; community perception and resilience', funded by Global Challenges Reserach Fund (GCRF)

Recent Reports/Research Briefs

Torture and Ill-treatment: Perceptions, Experiences and Justice-seeking in Kathmandu' Squatter Communities, Kathmandu, September 2016

New Norms and Forms of Development: Brokerage in Maternal and Child Health Service Development and Delivery in Nepal, Kathmandu, July 2016

New Norms and Forms of Development: Brokerage in Maternal and Child Health Service Development and Delivery in Malawi, Lilongwe, August 2016

Poor are most vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment: Findings from a survey conducted in the squa er se lements of Kathmandu, September 2016

Most recent Op-Eds

Documenting Torture (a commentary on torture documentation in Nepal), My Republica, 23 May 2016.

Far too common (a commentary on criminalisation of torture in Nepal, My Republica, Kathmandu, 19 April 2016)

Checkered History (a commentary on the political history of foreign aid in Nepal, My Republica, Kathmandu, 9 March 2016).

Revisiting Mahatonomics (a commentary on development in Nepal), My Republica, Kathmandu, 22 February 2016).

Current research projects

New Norms and Forms of Development: Brokerage in Maternal and Child Health Service Development and Delivery in Nepal and Malawi, funded by ESRC/DFID (from 1 May 2014, for two years), with Ian Harper, Pam Smith, Radha Adhikari and colleagues in Nepal and Malawi. website: www. 

A comparative analysis of the documentation of torture and ill-treatment in low-income countries, funded by ESRC/DFID (from 1 May 2014, for two years)


BA, Kathmandu University, Kathmandu, Nepal

MA, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India

PhD, University of Edinburgh, UK

Journal Articles

"Torture Redress mechanism in Nepal and Bangladesh: a comparative perspective" (with Morten Koch Andersen), Economic and Political Weekly, Vol LII, No. 17, April 2017. 

"WHO outsourcing dilemma: for whose benefit, at whose expense?" (with Harper, Adhikari, Smith, Thapa, Chand, Malata) BMJ Global Health 2017; 2: e000237, doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2016-000237  

Bodies in search of freedom: changing rural political economy and Nepal’s marginal migrants”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol 51, No 21. 21 May 201653-60.

"Understanding Health Research Ethics in Nepal" (with Rekha Khatri and Ian Harper), Developing World Bio-ethics, (Special Issue: the Ethics of Health Systems Research in Low and Middle-income Countries), (Open access; DOI: 10.1111/dewb.12109), Vol 16, No. 3: 140-147

Conflict resilience among community forestry user groups: experiences in Nepal”, (co-author with Andrea Nightingale), Disasters, 38 (3): 517-539, 2014.

Marginal but modern: Nepali labor migrants in India", Young: Nordic Journal of Youth Research, Vol. 21, No. 4, 2013.

"Social Science Engagement and Political Interregnum in Nepal", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLVII, No. 31, August 04, 2012.

Culture of migration in the middle hills in Nepal”, Labor Migration: Opportunities and challenges for mountain livelihoods, ICIMOD Periodical, No. 59, October 2011. 18-20 

On State Reconstruction in NepalEconomic and Political Weekly, Vol. 45, No. 4, 20-23 (2010).

Practices of Male Labour Migration from the Hills of Nepal to India in Development Discourses: Which Pathology?” Gender, Development and Technology, Vol. 12, No. 3: 303-323. 2008.

Book Chapters

Rise of adivasi janajati movement and Nepal’s political interregnum, in Hugo Gorringe, Suryakant Waghmore and Roger Jeffery (eds), From Margins to the Mainstream: Institutionalising minorities in South Asia, Sage Publications, December, 2015. 

"Aid and Violence: Development, Insurgency and Social Transformation in Nepal" (co-author with Antonio Donini), in Aparna Sundar and Nandini Sundar (eds), Civil War in South Asia: Sovereignity and Citizenship, Sage Publications, 2014.

“Migration, Marginality and Modernity: Hill Men's Journey to Mumbai", in Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka and Gerard Toffin (eds), Facing Globalisation in the Himalayas: Belonging and the Politics of the Self, Sage Publications, 2014.

“On the Way to India: Nepali Rituals of Border Crossing” (co-author with Sondra Hausner), in David Gellner (ed.), Borderland Lives in Northern South Asia, Duke University Press. 2013.

“Nepal: History and Trend of Migration”, in Ibrahim Sirkeci, Jeffrey H. Cohen, and Dilip Ratha (eds), Migration and Remittances during the Global Financial Crisis and Beyond, World Bank, page: 137-139. 2012.


How can you be 'marda' if you beat your wife. Notions of Masculinities and Violence in Eastern Nepal (co-author with Matthew Maycock, Juilie Bretheld, Ojaswi Shah and Ramesh Shrestha), Saferworld, London, UK (July 2014)

Structural Violence and Social Suffering Among Marginal Nepali Migrants, Medford, Feinstein International Center, Tufts University (September 2013).

From Subjects to Citizens? Labor, mobility and social transformation in Rural Nepal (lead author, with Antonio Donini)Medford, Feinstein International Center, Tufts University (March 2012).

Sovereignty, Nationalism and the Future of Aid in Nepal, Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, March 2012.

The impact of environmental change on work migration from Nepal to the Gulf States, Global Environment Migration (a project of Foresight, a UK government initiative), October 2011.

Towards a “great Transformation”? The Maoist Insurgency and Local Perceptions of Social Transformation in Nepal (lead author, with Antonio Donini), Feinstein International Centre, Tufts University, Medford, MA. 2010

The Resilience of Community Forestry User Groups in Conflict: Lessons from Nepal (co-author with Andrea Nightingale), LFP/DFID, Kathmandu, Nepal, 2010

Humanitarian Agenda 2015: Nepal Country Case Study (co-authored with Antonio Donini), Feinstein International Centre, Tufts University, Medford, MA. 2008.

Book reviews

"Maoists at the Hearth: Everyday Life in Nepal's Civil War", Conflict and Society, 1, 2015.

"Anthropology and Development: Culture, Morality and Politics in Globalised World", International Development Planning Review, 36 (4), 2014.

"The personal and the professional in aid work", e-IR, 14 February 2014.

Nepal- nation-state in the wilderness”, Economic and Political Weekly, November 2012.

Looking at Development and Donors”, European Bulletin of Himalayan Research, March, 2012.

“Cultures of Masculinity”, Gender, Place and Culture, Vol. 15.3. 317-331. 2008.

“Paradise Lost? State Failure in Nepal,” Contributions to Indian Sociology, 42.1: 157-160. 2008.

Previous externally funded research grants

January 2012- February 2014, Research Collaborator, (with colleagues in Edinburgh and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai), marginal populations, social mobilisations and development, UKIERI. GBP 30K

January 2012- April 2013, Co-investigator (with Antonio Donini at Tufts), Labor mobility, vulnerability and social transformation in Nepal, Humanity United Foundation, USD 150,000

2010-2011, Co-investigator (with Antonio Donini), Sovereignty, Globalisation and the Future of Humanitarian Action - Analysing Experience from Recent Crises in South Asia, The Future of Aid and Beyond Research Competition, DFID, UK. GBP 50,000

May 2011-December 2011, Principal Investigator, Labour mobility, vulnerability and social transformation in Nepal, Humanity United Foundation. USD 50,000

09/2010-08/2013, Co-Investigator (with Peter Walker, Daniel Maxwell, Karen Jacobsen and Elizabeth Stites), Coping with floods and managing livelihoods in Nepal Terai, OFDA/USAID. Total budget of the project is USD 1.1 million.

09/2010-02/2013, Research Collaborator (Nepal Co-Investigator), Biomedical and Health Experimentation in South Asia: critical perspectives on collaboration, governance and competition, ESRC-DFID Joint Scheme for Research on International Development (Poverty Alleviation), research grant with colleagues in Edinburgh, Durham India and Nepal, Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh. GBP 500k

2007-2010, Co-investigator (with Antonio Donini), Local Perceptions of Conflict and Social Transformation in Nepal, Governments of the Netherlands, Norway and Finland.

Topics interested in supervising

I have more than 10 years of research experience in the field of International Development. I welcome students working in the following fields: politics and practice of international development, role of socio-cultural knowledge and evidence in international development, livelihoods, labour, masculinities, brokerage, borderland, political violence, state-society relations, Maoist insurgency, ex-combatants, ethnography, Nepal, South Asia. Particularly, I welcome students who wish to develop interdisciplinary research skills.

If you are interested in being supervised by Jeevan Sharma, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Anthropology; PhD in South Asian Studies; PhD in International Development; MSc (R) Social Anthropology; MSc (R) in South Asian Studies