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Dr Reva Yunus



I am a Lecturer in Education and Social Justice. I joined the Department of Education in June 2021. In 2020 I worked at an Indian Council of Social Science Research Postdoctoral Fellow on the project, ‘How children combine work and schooling: an investigation of childhood, mobility and marginality in urban India’, at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Before joining TISS I worked as Assistant Professor at the Azim Premji University in India. I completed my PhD in Sociology in 2018 at the University of Warwick and was funded by the Chancellor’s International Scholarship. My doctoral work offered a critical theoretical engagement with the relationship between educational and socioeconomic marginalisation in urban India, especially how intersections of gender, class and caste shape classroom processes and poor pupils’ educational experience.

My background is quite interdisciplinary. I did my BSc in Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science and MSc in Physics (Devi Ahilya University, Indore) before transitioning to the field of Education with a MA at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. It was my involvement in the social sector that acted as catalyst and support for this transition. Alongside my university education I developed my own project to teach urban underprivileged children. Later I worked with the Self-Employed Women’s Association-Madhya Pradesh and The Prajnay Trust, Chennai on women’s and workers’ rights, and with Kishore Bharati and Eklavya on the right to education and science curriculum, respectively.

I teach undergraduate and master’s modules relating to sociology of education, policy, social justice, research methods and citizenship education. In addition, I supervise undergraduate, postgraduate taught and PhD students. I am also currently Associate Programme Leader for the department’s BA in Sociology/Education.



My research straddles the interface between sociology of education, critical urban studies & childhood studies. My work theorises the relationship between the economic, cultural and political changes of recent decades, and contemporary educational and socioeconomic marginality. Drawing upon feminist, postcolonial and critical accounts of globalization, austerity and economic informality, it foregrounds the gendered social, political and economic roles of poor urban teenagers in the majority world. A vital decolonial intervention in contemporary theorisations of childhood, it challenges dominant narratives of international development that seek to untie educational marginality from socioeconomic inequalities.

I have an abiding interest in both classroom processes and social relations as well as the wider social and economic logics that embed the educational experience of marginalised communities. I am particularly interested in interrogating the everyday realities of economic informality and its impact on schooling for children of informal workers. I am primarily an ethnographer and my PhD produced rich accounts of pupils’ negotiation of social relations, economic constraints and academic demands, including distinctive insights into gendered classroom experiences, care work and political participation. In my doctoral and postdoctoral work I have developed a conceptual framework to unpack urban poverty as a structural condition emanating from historical class-caste relations which has implications for pupils’ classroom experiences. This work also offers a uniquely systematic engagement with the way intersections of gender, class and caste shape classroom discourse and disciplinary and pedagogic processes.

Currently, I am extending my work on poor urban children's political engagement, rethinking childhood and children’s ‘agency’ from a postcolonial perspective, and interrogating the relevance of class analytics for informal work in the majority world.

Research group(s)

External activities


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Invited talks and conferences

I have presented my work at many international conferences such as the European Conference on South Asian Studies, British Sociological Association annual conference, and the Gender and Education Association Biennial Conference. I have also been invited to record podcasts on my research and teaching.

A journal article titled, '‘Labour class’ children in Indian classrooms: theorizing urban poverty and schooling'; one of my core areas of research, can be found in the British Journal of Sociology of Education. I have also published interviews with scholars like Prof Ashwini Deshpande on the intersecting questions of gender and caste. I am currently working on a monograph, The poor child’s schooling in unequal India: interrogating gender, class and caste in student experience, (under contract with Routledge). It is based on doctoral and post-doctoral work which draws upon feminist, postcolonial and critical accounts of liberalisation, caste patriarchy and economic informality to foreground the gendered nature of poor urban teenagers’ classroom experiences, (un)waged work and political participation. I have guest edited a special issue of the British Educational Research Journal on rightwing populism and education with Dr Saba Hussain; and joined the BERJ as an Associate Editor in April 2022. I have also been a reviewer for journals like, Childhood, The Sociological Review and Third World Thematics.

Contact details

Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44(0)1904 328941