Areas of Interest & Expertise
- Labour History
- Artisanal history
- Informal sector
- Gender, Caste and Class in Histories of Labour
- Comparative perspectives in Economic History
- Social Movements
Karuna is historian with a broad interest in the economic and social history of modern south Asia. She completed her PhD at the University of Delhi. Her doctoral dissertation explored the changing world of handloom weavers in south India – and the economic restructuring of the industry – from the early nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. Her work is grounded in the history of labour, with a special focus on the informal sector. Her post-doctoral research focused on the historical emergence of the informal sector in India, looking at the complex interactions and conflicts between labour, capital and the state in a variety of industries between 1930 and 1970. She is currently working on a project titled “The informalisation of labour in India: Courts as a site of contestation”. Prior to joining the university she was a Newton International Fellow at the University of Oxford.
She enjoys birdwatching and working with her hands, be it gardening, weaving or working with clay.
- (2020). Weaving Histories: The Transformation of the Handloom Industry in South India, c. 1800 – 1960. British Academy with OUP (UK).
- (2020). The Emergence of the Informal Sector: Labour Legislation and Politics in South India, 1940 – 1960. Modern Asian Studies, 54 (4), 1113-148.
- (2016). Repertoires of Resistance: The handloom weavers of south India, c. 1800 – 1960. International Review of Social History, 61, 423 – 458.
- (2015). The geography of weaving in nineteenth century south India. Indian Economic and Social History Review, 52 (2), 147 – 184.
- (2014). Caste and Work: Weaving in 19th century South India. In Sabyasachi Bhattacharya (ed), Towards a New History of Work (pp. 97 – 120), Tulika Publishers.
- (2018, February 8). Formalising the informal: What’s in it for workers? The Wire. https://thewire.in/business/formalising-economy-workers
- (2020, 9 May). You can’t go back: Migrant workers told in Tamil Nadu. The Wire. https://thewire.in/labour/you-cant-go-back-migrant-workers-in-tamil-nadu
- (2020, August). Bled Dry: How India Exploits Health Workers. The Caravan. https://caravanmagazine.in/health/how-india-exploits-health-workers
She is currently working on a project titled “The informalisation of labour in India: Courts as a site of contestation”